ESP’s resident film critic Gavin Miller continues to report from his sofa on the best the small screen has to offer during lockdown. This time he turns his attentions to Channel 4 series It’s A Sin…
Acclaimed TV series writer Russell T Davies has just unleashed a ground-breaking, five-part drama – focused on the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s.
For those old enough to remember when it first hit the news – and for those who don’t – this provides a hard-hitting limited series salvo that will put you through a whole host of emotions – particularly as the world goes through its own (albeit different) pandemic at the moment.
The man behind the likes of Doctor Who, Years and Years and Queer as Folk, unleashes some of Britain’s hottest young talent onto the small screen, as the lives of five friends – confident aspiring actor Ritchie (Olly Alexander), his best friend and eventual pro-gay rights campaigner Jill (Lydia West), timid Savile Row tailor Colin (Callum Scott Howells), Indian school teacher Ash (Nathaniel Curtis) and Nigerian bar worker Roscoe (Omari Douglas) – converge as they live in a flat together in 1981-91 London.
Even the likes of Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and British stalwart Stephen Fry join the ride to the backdrop of iconic eighties music blasting in the background, from the likes of Erasure, Culture Club and Pet Shop Boys.
Those classic tunes will at least take some viewers on a trip down memory lane, to pull it through it’s more slower and methodical moments – even if some may not be able to pallet some of the intense sex scenes.
But for the most-part if you give it your time and attention – particularly as the five-part series evolves and reaches its conclusion – you’ll find it a gritty and heartwarming throwback to a time when there was another serious disease plaguing the world (and predominantly the gay community at this particular time), that little was known about too.
And when these friends started taking this new illness seriously after shrugging it off at first as ‘scare-mongering’ – and it began affecting people all around them – it rocked their world in more ways than one.
Hence why it has just become the best-performing Channel 4 drama among young people (aged 16-34) in three years, and ends up being another slice of ingenuity from Davies – particularly with the difficult subject material at hand – that is competently handled by director Peter Hoar.
But it’s the exciting young cast (particularly Alexander and West deserve the greatest recognition) who are the real stars here – and for their performances alone it’d be a sin not to catch this.
Platform: Channel 4
Cast: Olly Alexander, Lydia West, Keeley Hawes, Omari Douglas, Callum Scott Howells, Nathaniel Curtis, Shaun Dooley, David Caryle, Tracy Ann Oberman, Stephen Fry & Neil Patrick Harris
Running Time: Approx 45 Mins Per Episode
Director: Peter Hoar