Olly Alexander, Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry and Neil Patrick Harris will star in Russell T Davies’ new series Boys

Davies' five-part series about the AIDS crisis signs up an incredible cast

The cast of Channel 4's Boys

From Years and Years to… Years & Years – Russell T Davies new Channel 4 drama The Boys will star actor and pop singer Olly Alexander in the lead.

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The five-parter, which explores the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, has signed up an all-star cast, including Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry and Neil Patrick Harris.

Lydia West (who also worked with Davies on his BBC show Years and Years), Tracy Ann Oberman, Shaun Dooley, Nathaniel Curtis, Omari Douglas and Callum Scott Howells will also appear in the series.

Described as “charting the joy and heartbreak of four friends during a decade in which everything changed”, Boys will begin in 1981, as friends Ritchie (Alexander), Roscoe (Douglas) and Colin (Howells)  begin a new life in London.

Boys readthrough
Boys readthrough
Channel 4

Strangers at first, these young gay lads, and their best friend Jill (West(, find themselves thrown together, and soon share each other’s adventures. But a new virus is on the rise, and soon their lives will be tested in ways they never imagined. As the decade passes, and they grow up in the shadow of AIDS, they’re determined to live and love more fiercely than ever.

Hawes (Bodyguard), will play Ritchie’s mum Valerie, with Shaun Dooley (Gentleman Jack) playing Clive, his dad. Harris (How I Met Your Mother) stars as Henry Coltrane, with Fry (Gosford Park) as MP Arthur Garrison, Oberman (Friday Night Dinner) as Carol Carter and Curtis as Ash.

Olly Alexander said: “I feel like the luckiest boy in the world to be a part of this project, I’ve been a fan of Russell T Davies ever since I watched Queer As Folk in secret at 14 years old. His work helped shape my identity as a gay person so I’m absolutely over the moon we’ll be working together. The script was amazing to read, I laughed and I cried a lot, it’s a privilege to be helping to tell this story and I’m so excited.”

The cast of Channel 4's Boys
The cast of Channel 4’s Boys
Channel 4

Neil Patrick Harris said: “I’m so pleased, and incredibly proud, to be a part of Russell T Davies’ new series. This drama, Boys, is two things: it is an irresistible, funny, jubilant story of young people discovering their true identities and the unalloyed joy of living life to the fullest, it is also a deeply resonant exploration of a decade when so many of these lives were cut short by the devastating effects of the nascent AIDS pandemic. Russell’s scripts chart the highs and lows of this time so beautifully and deftly, it’s an honour to help tell this story.”

Filming begins next week, with Boys set to air air on Channel 4 in 2020.

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Produced by RED Production Company, the series will be executive produced by Davies and Nicola Shindler (Years and Years), with Phil Collinson (Doctor Who) as producer and Peter Hoar (The Umbrella Academy directing.