Back to the 80s

Olly Alexander, Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Fry to start filming AIDS drama

Olly Alexander, Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Fry will feature in the 1980s-set drama

The casting has been announced for a major new British TV drama that looks at the arrival of HIV and AIDS in London in the 1980s. The five-episode show, entitled Boys, has been penned by acclaimed screenwriter Russell T Davies.

Davies penned the original British production of Queer As Folk and last year’s acclaimed A Very British Scandal, starring Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw.

Casting for the show was announced yesterday. It will star singer Olly Alexander of the band Years and Years. He will play 18-year-old Ritchie Tozer, one of three young men who move to London at the start of the 1980s.

The other two leads, Roscoe and Colin, are played relative newcomers, Omari Douglas and Callum Scott Howells.

Also in the cast at Neil Patrick Harris, Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry, and Tracy Ann Oberman. The show will premiere on the UK’s Channel 4 in late 2020.

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This is not Alexander’s first acting job. He has previously appeared in the movies The Riot Club and God Help The Girl but put his acting on hold when his pop career began to take off.

He has been out as gay since the start of his music career. In 2017, he fronted a BBC documentary called Growing Up Gay, in which he revealed something of the mental health challenges he and other gay people face.

Alexander said he’s thrilled to be involved with the show.

“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.

Related: Olly Alexander feels sorry for straight guys, says they need marijuana lube in their butts

“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.”

Neil Patrick Harris described the show as, “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 honor to help tell this story.”

Stephen Fry took to Twitter to reveal that he play the part of a right-wing Conservative politician.

He called Boys a, “vital, beautiful story of friendship & joy set against one of the most devastating decades for the gay community”

Shooting is due to commence next week.