Channel 4’s groundbreaking drama series, ‘It’s a Sin,’ created by Russell T Davies, is a heart-warming story set against the backdrop of the 1980s AIDS outbreak in the UK. It features an ensemble cast starring Olly Alexander as Ritchie Tozer, Omari Douglas as Roscoe Babatunde, and Callum Scott Howells as Colin Morris-Jones. Lydia West, Nathaniel Curtis, and David Carlyle appear as Jill Baxter, Ash Mukherjee, and Gregory Finch respectively. Keeley Hawes and Neil Patrick Harris also appear in limited but pivotal roles.
The series follows the lives of a group of gay men living in London and how their dreams and aspirations are affected by the HIV/AIDS outbreak. The series details the effects of the AIDS outbreak on the lives of people in a time when awareness was less, people were conservative, and having the virus was considered shameful. These real-world elements give the series a touch of realism and make you wonder if ‘It’s a Sin’ is based on a true story. We are here to put those doubts to rest.
Is It’s a Sin Based on a True Story?
No, ‘It’s a Sin’ is not based on a true story. The series incorporates real-world elements from the real-life experiences of creator Russell T Davies. Speaking about the inspiration behind the series, Davies revealed that the idea for the series was drawn from personal experiences and stories he heard from people who lived during the 1980s and experienced the HIV/AIDS pandemic firsthand.
He further elaborated on this subject in an interview with Metro, stating, “This series fits my life. I was 18 in 1981. A lot of my gay friends went to go and live in London and they moved into a big flat in Hampstead and they called it the pink palace. A lot of the dialogue was their jokes and their rhythms and stuff like that. There will be a few friends I haven’t seen for years who will feel like this is slightly familiar. Some of them, of course, are no longer with us because HIV came along and claimed a lot of their lives.”
In fact, Davies had revealed that the character of Colin is inspired by one of his ex-boyfriends who trained to be a tailor. The character of Jill Baxter is also based upon Davies’ real-life friend, Jill Nadir. In an article written by Davies for The Guardian, he spoke about his friendship with Nadir: “We’ve known each other since we were 14, daft camp kids belonging to a wonderful youth theatre in West Glamorgan which was accidentally, brilliantly, the safest gay space imaginable.”
He continued, “As we grew up, I went to university, got a job, started to write, but Jill lived a bigger, better life. She went to London. Became an actor. She moved into a flat which she called the Pink Palace, and it felt like an endless party, the rooms filled with gay men and drag queens and show tunes.” Davies went on to describe Nadir’s role during the AIDS crisis, saying that Jill met the crisis head-on and stood at the heart of the storm. She went to hospitals, funerals, and marches. She held the hands of so many people who were affected by the virus.
The apartment Davies mentioned in the article serves as the inspiration for the apartment that is home to the group in the series and is also called the “Pink Palace.” The character of Jill shares many similarities with Nadir, and Nadir also appears in the show as Jill’s mother. The scene in which Ritchie’s parents arrive at the hospital and discover he is gay and has AIDS is inspired by the story of Davies and Nadir’s common friend. If the performances of the actors feel realistic and have touched your heart, it is because Davies insisted on casting gay actors for gay roles, and he has been vocal about it as well.
Davies has channeled personal experiences and those of his friends to craft a story that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and brings to light some of the horrors they faced during the HIV/AIDS crisis. In doing so, he has created a realistic depiction of the LGBTQ+ community that should prove to be the gold standard in the time to come.
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