Russell T Davies drama about the 1980s AIDS crisis to air on Channel 4
The Boys will be a five-part series examining the lives of a group of young gay men hit by the outbreak of the deadly virus
Russell T Davies’s much-anticipated drama The Boys, about the impact of the 1980s AIDS crisis, has been snapped up by Channel 4.
The former Doctor Who showrunner has been talking about the series for a number of years and claims it is his most heavily-researched work. However it hasn’t had a broadcaster attached – until now.
- Russell T Davies: Why I want to show what life was like for gay men during the 1980s AIDS crisis
- Russell T Davies is writing a drama about the 1980s AIDS crisis
- Russell T Davies reveals he will never write another Doctor Who episode
The five-part drama will follow the story of the 1980s, the story of AIDS, and the story of three boys, Ritchie, Roscoe and Colin, across the decade.
“Ritchie, Roscoe and Colin are young lads, strangers at first, leaving home at 18 and heading off to London in 1981 with hope and ambition and joy... and walking straight into a plague that most of the world ignores,” Channel 4 revealed. “Year by year, episode by episode, their lives change, as the mystery of a new virus starts as a rumour, then a threat, then a terror, and then something that binds them together in the fight.
“It’s the story of their friends, lovers and families too, especially Jill, the girl who loves them and helps them, and galvanises them in the battles to come. Together they will endure the horror of the epidemic, the pain of rejection and the prejudices that gay men faced throughout the decade.”
Davies revealed that he was working on the drama in 2015 and spoke about the project to RadioTimes.com in June 2016.
“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 said he partly wanted to write it to help remember the people caught up in the crisis – many of whom did not have children who would help preserve the memories from the era.
“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 also said that the gay experience continues to be underserved by British TV.
“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.”
This week he added:“I lived through those times, and it’s taken me decades to build up to this. And as time marches on, there’s a danger the story will be forgotten. So it’s an honour to write this for the ones we lost, and the ones who survived.”