It’s A Sin writer Russell T Davies: “A lot of it is based on myself and people I know”

The former Doctor Who showrunner on how his new series pays "testament" to friends he lost during the AIDS epidemic.

It's A Sin Russell T Davies

Channel 4 drama series It’s A Sin is set during the 1980s, and charts the AIDS crisis and its impact on three young gay men who all move to London and rent a flat they nickname “The Pink Palace”.

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Russell T Davies penned the script, and the screenwriter recently revealed that many of the characters and their dialogue were inspired by a real-life group of friends – so much so that he kept the name of the London flat they all shared, The Pink Palace.

Speaking at a press Q&A, Davies confirmed that much of the series was autobiographical, or else based on people he knew. “It’s a lot, yeah – a lot of it is based on myself, people I know, and stories of people,” he said. 

He added that the drama series mirrors his own life, as he was also 18-years-old in 1981, just like the three main characters in It’s A Sin.

It's A Sin
Nathaniel Curtis and Olly Alexander in It’s A Sin (Channel 4)
Channel 4

“This series fits my life literally. I was 18 in 1981, [and] I went to university. A lot of my friends went to live in London, all my gay friends all went to London, and they moved into a big flat in Hampstead I think it was, and they called it the Pink Palace.

“So this is quite literally, a lot of the dialogue has got their jokes and their rhythms and stuff like that. There will be a few friends who I haven’t seen for years who’ll be watching it going, ‘This is slightly familiar. I lived in the Pink Palace once.’ 

“Some of them, of course, are no longer with us, they passed away because HIV came along and claimed a lot of their lives. So it’s nice to pay testament, it’s nice to remember them, I’m very lucky in my job that I can do this.”

Asked if the character of Welsh teenager Colin was based on his younger self, Davies said: “I mean, Colin’s Welsh, so it’s obvious [there’s a similarity], but actually he was [based on] someone I went out with in the ’90s who trained to be a tailor and went to New York to fit lords and ladies who lived in New York, with their suits and gowns, so actually that was based on someone else. A man called John. Beautiful man.”

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It’s A Sin will premiere Friday 22nd January 2021 at 9pm on Channel 4. All five episodes will be available to stream on All4 after that. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide.