British screenwriter Russell T Davies (Queer As Folk, Doctor Who) has given a wide-ranging interview to The Guardian after the newspaper named his AIDS drama, It’s A Sin, the best TV show of 2021.
Davies said he was over the moon to receive the honor, and did not know when writing the five-part series whether anyone would want to “watch a show about AIDS.”
It’s A Sin is set in London in the 1980s and follows a household of friends as they are impacted by the arrival of HIV on the gay scene. It was screened by HBO Max in the US earlier this year.
Davies revealed the inspiration behind some of the scenes and characters. This included Welshman, Colin. Three years ago, Davies lost his own partner of 20 years, Andrew Smith, due to a brain tumor. He said that watching his husband slip away inspired some of Colin’s final scenes as he lay dying in hospital.
“There’s that moment of Colin staring into space with his eyes flickering side to side. That was Andrew for his final six to seven days. He was actually asleep, but his eyes just happened to be open, bless him. That haunts me. Sometimes you put those things in the script to exorcise them.”
Related: Russell T. Davies blasts “pathetic” portrayal of bisexuality in ‘Loki’
He said another inspiration for Colin was a man he used to have a crush on.
“He’s partly somebody I fancied like mad, who I went out with once or twice, who worked in a gentleman’s outfitters and went to New York to measure lords for shirts. That’s all real. The nice thing is he got in touch after all these years and said: ‘Was that me?’”
Davies said he remains in the same house in Manchester where he and Andrew lived, debating whether he should sell and move somewhere else.
“Maybe I should get out and buy a flat in town and go dating?” he asks, before answering himself: “Fifty-eight and dating. That’s not a good look.”
The interviewer suggests Davies try Grindr.
“At my age? I don’t think there’s much action at my age, do you?” replies Davies, before saying he does in fact use the app.
“I am on Grindr. I’ve been on there for years because I find it fascinating. Unfortunately, everyone goes: ‘Oh, you’re the man who wrote Doctor Who.’ I’d never meet anyone off Grindr – I’ve got too much fear of being murdered.”
The interviewer asks him if he just uses the dating app to look at profiles, and he replied, “I write a lot about the modern world, and it’s very helpful. That’s why I read Twitter but don’t belong to it. I go on Grindr, but I don’t Grind. I think it would be mad if I didn’t look at all those modern forms of communication.”
Related: Russell T. Davies was pressured to add this “unbelievably crass” scene to ‘It’s a Sin…’
Davies is credited with successfully reviving the long-running BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who when he took over as showrunner in 2005. He departed in 2009, and fans were surprised—and delighted—when it was recently announced he would be returning as showrunner.
He says he loves the show too much to stay away from it.
“I’ve already written some of the episodes. The first will go out in November 2023 – that’s the 60th anniversary of the show.”
He refused to be drawn on rumors as to whether Years and Year’s Olly Alexander (who starred in It’s A Sin) might be taking over from Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor.
“We have genuinely not cast anyone yet. We’re just starting auditions.”
I would slip into his DMs for sure…
to specifically say, “You ruined Torchwood”.
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