Across a hugely varied career, TV writer and showrunner Russell T Davies has been an instrumental voice telling queer British stories on mainstream, primetime telly. And now, following the groundbreaking likes of Queer As Folk and Cucumber, he’s back with a new series that’s about to present a new perspective on the AIDS crisis. Set initially in the early 1980s (and named after the iconic Pet Shop Boys single), It’s A Sin will be the first British TV series to directly address the HIV and AIDS epidemic that wrought destruction particularly on gay men. The five-episode run will depict a decade of life starting from 1981, during which cases of the virus rapidly increase, and the wider world is eventually forced to take notice.

It's A Sin – exclusive

“I’m not the first person to say, ‘I’m going to write an AIDS drama.’ And there are brilliant pieces of work out there. But not from a British perspective,” Davies tells Empire in the new issue – on sale Thursday 26 November, and available to order online now. “I know I’m entering a body of work. There’s Angels In America and The Normal Heart, which was a scream of rage, and of course more recently Pose. I was steering between appreciating all those other things, and finding my own way to do this.”

It's A Sin – exclusive

At the centre of the show is 18 year-old Ritchie Tozer, played by actor and singer Olly Alexander. Among a household of fellow young adults who move to London in 1981, Ritchie finds his world opened up considerably in the big smoke, but also witnesses the growing stature of the virus, growing from whispered rumour within the gay community to a full-blown urgent health crisis. Starring alongside Alexander in the series are the likes of Stephen Fry, Neil Patrick Harris, Shaun Dooley, and Keeley Hawes.

Empire – January 2021 – WandaVision cover

Read Empire’s full story on It’s A Sin in the WandaVision issue, out Thursday and available to buy online here. The series is due to air on Channel 4 in January 2021.

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