Russell T Davies on It's A Sin and Doctor Who: 'We’re just starting auditions'

The writer of the Channel 4 Aids drama reveals he was worried about getting the hit show wrong.


Words: Alastair James; pictures: Markus Bidaux

Russell T Davies has opened up about being inspired to write his acclaimed Aids epic, It's a Sin, as well as his fears for getting it wrong. 

It's a Sin tells the story of a group of teenagers living in London during the Aids crisis in the 1980s and 90s. The show has recently been named the number one TV show for 2021 by The Guardian, as well as Digital Spy

Davies' next big project will see him return to Doctor Who, a series he helped bring back in 2005, as the show marks its 60th anniversary. 

"Imagine if I’d got this wrong"

Speaking to The Guardian to mark It's a Sin being named the paper's best TV show of the year, Russell says the inspiration came from speaking to a friend of his, Jill Nalder who would go on to inspire the character of Jill in the show, about a young boy whose parents found out he was gay and dying of Aids all at once. 

"I never asked her what they said because I wanted to imagine it. And I’ve been imagining it for 30 years," he continues.

He tells The Guardian, "Imagine if I’d got this wrong, if it had been rubbish. Imagine if I’d let down all those people for whom this is a life-defining thing. We all lived with their deaths for so long, and doing it justice was an enormous weight to bear."

He also reveals that the main character, Ritchie (played by Olly Alexander) contains some of Russell's own characteristics. "His selfishness, and the fact that he thinks he’s so clever he can talk his way out of any situation. That’s me. All his worst faults are mine."

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Russell goes on to say that he likes his character's being quite "unlikeable", refuting the idea that gay characters have to be the opposite. "There’s often a feeling that the gay character should be the nice character.

"And I’m like, nobody worries about Tony Soprano, do they? But gay people have to be nice! I love ignoring that," he says.

Moving on to discuss other projects Russell has coming up he mentions a drama about Crossroads' Noele Gordon, which will star Helena Bonham Carter. Doctor Who is also mentioned.

Explaining his love for the show, Russell says it was the first thing he watched on TV. On rejoining the series ahead of its 60th birthday in 2023, Russell refuses to give anything other than he has already written a few episodes.

On rumours of Olly Alexander playing the ever-changing timelord, Russell gives nothing away confirming only that: "We have genuinely not cast anyone yet. We’re just starting auditions."

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