Russell T Davies: I want to show what life was like for gay men during the 1980s AIDS crisis

Former Doctor Who showrunner says that TV drama has not done enough to show the experience of those who have suffered from the disease – but his new drama The Boys will face it head on

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Russell T Davies is making headway with his next drama project, The Boys, a series about young gay men coping with the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

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And he adds that the experience of gay men with AIDS has been underserved by British TV.

“It’s not been done a lot on telly,” says Davies, who is the subject of a South Bank Show on Sky Arts next week.

“The first British soap to feature a gay man with HIV was last year, it was Steve in Hollyoaks,” he said. “There were women like Val In Emmerdale. When they did that it was a real eye opener for me.”

He adds that his work on the project is requiring a lot of reading.

“The research is endless, I am steeping myself in it,” Davies told RadioTimes.com.

“It will be the most research-based piece I will ever do. It was my life. Episode one starts in 1981 with an 18-year-old boy leaving home. That’s me.”

He tells Melvyn Bragg on the South Bank Show that he also wants to record the experience of the young men who suffered or died during the AIDS epidemic, because they are a generation which is fading away from history and lack a legacy.

“Gay men weren’t having children back then, not in the way they are today. And they are starting to die out; their parents are starting to die out.

“My battle with it was I simply did not believe it [at the time], because it seemed so perfectly designed as a virus to attack gay men through their sex and kill them while they were young. If you were writing a thriller you would invent that virus.”

Davies is still sounding out a formal commission, but says it will not be a BBC show, with Channel 4 the most likely destination.

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The South Bank Show: Russell T Davies is on Sky Arts on Wednesday 29 June at 8pm