IT'S A Sin has become one of Channel 4's biggest dramas – and with some pretty graphic sex scenes, it's also one of the most talked about.
But the steamy storylines are all part of the candid look back at the Aids crisis of the Eighties, which killed thousands of people.
Writer Russell T Davies, who gave us Queer as Folk, A Very English Scandal and helped revive Doctor Who, has worked his magic on a bleak period of history.
He's managed to create a show which chronicles the joy and pain of the five central characters.
They are made up of four gay men: cocky party boy Ritchie, played by Years and Years frontman Olly Alexander; shy Welsh tailor Colin, played by Callum Scott Howells; extravagant Roscoe, played by Omari Douglas and actor Ash, played by Nathaniel Curtis.
And at the centre of the storm they find themselves in is Jill, played by Lydia West, a real-life friend of Russell from the Eighties. With social media buzzing with chat about the show, three writers on The Sun, give their points of view on why It's A Sin is such a hit.
By Rod McPhee
TERRIFYING TV adverts, rampant hysteria and a government warning sent to every home about a deadly new disease.
It may sound like the current Covid crisis, but this was the authorities' response in 1987 to another virus that threatened Britain – HIV.
As someone who'd just entered their teenage years, I can vividly remember the abject fear as images of tombstones flickered across the telly as John Hurt told me: "Don't Die of Ignorance."
Sadly the original crisis which enveloped the nation has almost been forgotten, which is why new Channel 4 drama, It's A Sin, is a crucial reminder.
The timing – exactly 40 years since the first AIDS case was recorded – is perfect. But Russell T Davies' masterpiece does something which all the other TV shows and movies have often missed – HIV didn't just kill famous people like Rock Hudson or Freddie Mercury, it also stole sons, brothers, fathers and uncles from ordinary families.
Across the country, mantlepieces carry pictures of men who, if anyone asked, died of an illness their loved ones invented because they were too ashamed to tell the truth.
Back in the Eighties young gay guys – like the four central characters in this drama – arrived in big cities, after fleeing queer-bashings and derision in their home towns and villages.
Once there, they did what millions of straight people did – and still do – they went out in search of partying, love and as much sex as they could get.
Condoms were something you used to prevent pregnancy or catching a "VD" which, unlike AIDS, wasn't going to kill you. Despite this, heartless people said it was a divine gay plague cleansing the world… I wonder if they have an equally cruel explanation for Covid predominantly killing the elderly?
It's A Sin isn't just a reminder that Aids was a heartbreaking human tragedy, it's a history lesson on keeping our humanity at a time of national crisis.
By Clemmie Moodie
I was 17. My friends at an all-girls school in Surrey were excitedly watching Dawson's Creek and This Life – perving over Pacey [Joshua Jackson] eyeing-up Egg [Andrew Lincoln].
I, meanwhile, was in my parents' spare bedroom furtively watching Channel 4 and Russell T Davies's ground-breaking gay series, Queer As Folk, bemused as to why I found Canal Street, and its kaleidoscope of colourful characters, quite so intriguing.
When my mum burst in unannounced – invariably during an explicit sex scene – I would furiously change channel, red-faced and stuttering.
Some 20 years on, how things have changed. Watching It's A Sin – every bit as raunchy, if not more so – I've been proudly Tweeting, telling anyone who cares just how brilliant this show is.And my mum follows me on Twitter.
Yes, ostensibly the series is about gay men (plus the brilliant heterosexual legend that is Jill; we all know a Jill). But as part of the gay community, there are scenes I recognise, and have seen play out.
The house parties, the music, the drag queens, the in-jokes and, well, the sheer, unbridled joy that comes with being accepted as part of a tribe, is all there, on screen.
The first episode was watched by almost two and a half million people on Friday night – an excellent post-watershed result for Channel 4.
Whilst I might not be rushing back to Surrey to watch certain scenes with my parents – only a masochist, or sociopath, would deliberately watch sex scenes of any kind with their mum and dad – I'm proud to suggest they give the show a try. It really is wonderful.
By Benjy Potter, Millennial
THERE’S nothing quite like watching an X-rated scene with your mum and dad over a Chinese takeaway on a Friday night. And I should have known better. If this pandemic has taught me one thing, it’s to check the box before suggesting family viewing.
As a long-time fan of It’s A Sin writer Russell T Davies [see: Doctor Who], his Nineties drama Queer as Folk featured the first depiction of a certain oral sex scene on British telly, so there was no doubt that It’s A Sin would be just as risqué. Right, enough talk of X-rated scenes.
From their small town lives Ritchie, Roscoe, Jill, Ash and Colin magnate to Soho in their early twenties as the AIDs epidemic begins to rear its ugly head.
They shag everything they see without knowing what lies around the corner. The show is both an education and a step back into the colourful soundtrack of the 1980s. Plenty of Pet Shop Boys and crop tops.
It’s A Sin made me nostalgic for my early 20s – literally four years ago. Replace cruising with dating apps, roomy Soho lofts for Brixton bedsits and that pandemic for this one: My life was basically It’s A Sin…well, not really.
Watching it made me grateful for the leaps science has made which means we can treat HIV and know how to protect ourselves against it. The gay community is nowhere near as marginalised as it once was.
Seeing the lads try and keep their sexuality hidden from their families back in their small towns took me right back to my teens and that shaky phone call to mum to tell her I was gay. I shouldn't have worried though, everyone is fine with me being gay now and even my grandma comes to drag shows with me. Life as a millennial gay man couldn’t be more different to the Eighties.
I’m refusing to join the millennial craze by binging it all in one go, though. So I’ll watch it one week at a time as the awaiting tragedy inevitably unfolds.
This Friday night though, you’ll find me watching it in my bedroom. Yes, television has moved on leaps and bounds but some things are best enjoyed alone.
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