Lydia West reunites with Years & Years showrunner Russell T Davies for his latest drama It’s A Sin, in which she plays a teenage drama student who befriends a group of young gay men during the 1980s AIDS epidemic.
The Channel 4 series is loosely inspired by Davies’ own teenage friends, and none more so than the character of Jill (West), who is based on a real-life person also called Jill — and who’s set to co-star in It’s A Sin.
Speaking during a Q&A ahead of the series, West told RadioTimes.com and other press that her character was based on Jill Nalder, who will appear on-screen as Jill’s mum.
“Russell told me the day before the read-through that the [character] Jill is based very loosely on a real-life character called Jill, so much so that he didn’t change her name, and she will her playing my mother, and I was like, ‘Argh! Oh my gosh’,” she said.
“So I arrived at the read-through and I’m kind of like, reading all my lines, and looking over [with] odd glances at Jill just wondering if I’d said that correctly and I approached her at the end of the read-through, and I was like, ‘Thank you so much for being you’, and she was just like, ‘Oh stop it,’ and she’s just very lovely.”
However, West stressed that she didn’t base her character choices on the real-life Jill.
She said: “I didn’t make any of my character choices based on her, but it was just amazing to have someone in the room who lived through this time and she is how Jill is depicted, that is the real-life Jill – she’s kind, she’s generous, she’s very sweet, and every time I spent time with her I learned so much, she’s so interesting and so inspiring, so yeah, I managed to have some conversations with her about the era and about her friends and about the Pink Palace [the flat where the main characters live].”
She continued: “It just gave me the complete freedom to play Jill as I did and not kind of try and mimic certain traits of the real-life Jill. Not that that would have been an issue because she is spectacular.”
It’s A Sin will air on Channel 4 on 22nd January 2021. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide.