Colin works at Saville Row as an apprentice with a fabulously moustached work partner named Henry Coltrane (a scene-stealing Neil Patrick Harris). Roscoe has come out and proud from the start and is quickly embracing his sexuality in the London club scene. Richie is quick to too; embracing it as “one glorious party”. The three boys all end up living in a grotty flat with a very nice woman named Jill (Lydia West) (a kind of ministering angel for the boys).
AIDS is clearly a subject close to Writer Russell T Davies’ heart. In all his projects, from ‘Queer as Folk’ to ‘Dr.Who’, he has fought for good LGBT roles and equality for this community. Of course, he feels a personal affiliation to a crisis which rocked the gay community in the 1980s.
It’s thrilling that, despite this, ‘It’s A Sin’ is such a joy. It recreates an awfully troubling time with a big smile, a stride in its step and a very bad haircut. All the mullets, the perms, the bouffants are there in their enfant terrible entirety. The soundtrack has Joy Division (‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’), Eurythmics (‘Sweet Dreams’) and Kate Bush (‘Running Up That Hill’) cooing in the background. I just wanted to download the whole thing on Spotify!
The series reminded me to some extent of the films of Gurinder Chadha - in particular ‘Blinded by the Light’ (2019). That film had Neo-Nazi politics on its front doorstep, but channeled that out through its Bruce Springsteen singalong musical numbers. You’ll be singing along here too…
Across the board, the performances are exceptional. Davies shows an impressively sexuality-blind approach to casting; casting gay actors to play gay parts. Olly Alexander is just a little box of delight as Richie - full of child-like wonder and enthusiasm. Neil Patrick Harris pretty much steals the show - despite only being in it for one episode.
Stephen Fry is always good and I loved him here as a homophobic, hypocritical, Thatcher-admiring politician. And I loved Keeley Hawes and Shaun Dooley as the homophobic parents. Especially the former who gets the show’s most moving scene in the ending.
Of course, the HIV/AIDS epidemic setting has a lot of links and relevance to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was another time when communities had to rely on each other and family support to unite and get through the toughest of times. In this sense, ‘It’s A Sin’ is just the slice of feelgood escapism we need. Russell T Davies’ best show to date...
‘It’s A Sin’ is on All4 now.
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
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