It's A Sin star Olly Alexander fights back tears as he learns show has increased HIV testing numbers

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It's A Sin star Olly Alexander fights back tears as he learns show has increased HIV testing numbers

It's A Sin star Olly Alexander struggled to hold back tears as he discussed the impact the show has had during a Zoom reunion with the cast. Appear

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It’s A Sin star Olly Alexander struggled to hold back tears as he discussed the impact the show has had during a Zoom reunion with the cast. 

Appearing on Friday’s BBC Breakfast, the 30-year-old singer was left overwhelmed as he learned that the show had inspired a record number of people to get tested for HIV.

From multi-BAFTA Award-winning writer Russell T Davies, It’s A Sin follows the story of the 1980s, the story of AIDS, and charts the joy and heartbreak of a group of friends across a decade in which everything changed.

Emotional: It's A Sin star Olly Alexander struggled to hold back tears as he discussed the impact the show has had during a Zoom reunion with the cast on Friday

Emotional: It’s A Sin star Olly Alexander struggled to hold back tears as he discussed the impact the show has had during a Zoom reunion with the cast on Friday

Olly – who plays Ritchie Tozer in the series – was reunited with Omari Douglas (Roscoe) Nathaniel Curtis (Ash) and David Carlyle (Gregory) as they spoke with HIV Activist Rupert Whitaker and LBGTQ ally Deborah Neil.

Speaking about the response to the show, Olly gushed: ‘I’ve been blown away by how much it’s touched people. But we were so touched when we read it! I’m still processing it’.

As Omari added, ‘just seeing the viewing figures is absolutely insane’, Nathaniel interjected, ‘it’s amazing. There are moments when I’m reading these things and like “oh my god”, wow.’

David added: ‘It comes on television and then woo – you’re just not prepared for it. Like a tidal wave!’

Reunited: (From top L-R) Nathaniel Curtis, journalist Jayne McCubbin, David Carlyle, Omari Douglas, Olly, HIV Activist Rupert Whitaker and LBGTQ ally Deborah Neil

Reunited: (From top L-R) Nathaniel Curtis, journalist Jayne McCubbin, David Carlyle, Omari Douglas, Olly, HIV Activist Rupert Whitaker and LBGTQ ally Deborah Neil 

Revealing that he has been inundated with messages from viewers, Olly continued: ‘I’ve had really young gay people message me saying they had no idea this happened and they can’t believe it. 

‘This is a recognisable past, it’s not that long ago. It’s not hard for people to imagine what it was like – and they’re seeing this treatment of gay people and they’re just shocked. 

‘Of course you’d be shocked. How is this happening?!’

Rupert – who co-founded the Terrence Higgins Trust in honour of his late boyfriend – went on to reveal that the number of people getting tested for HIV had increased as a result of the programme. 

The activist is one of Europe’s longest-surviving people with HIV, having contracted the disease in 1981, and has dedicated his life to raising awareness following the death of his partner, Terrence from AIDS in 1982.

After hearing about the increase in testing, Olly welled up as he announced: ‘I’m trying not to cry!

Omari said: 'The fact that a piece of television has had such a cultural impact, but also the public heat impact is just crazy. It’s so rare that telly has that effect'

Omari said: ‘The fact that a piece of television has had such a cultural impact, but also the public heat impact is just crazy. It’s so rare that telly has that effect’

‘It’s incredible to see a real time response to the show from the audience. I’m just really moved by it.’ 

Omari added: ‘The fact that a piece of television has had such a cultural impact, but also the public heat impact is just crazy. It’s so rare that telly has that effect.’

Although Rupert has been delighted with the impact It’s A Sin has had, he confessed that he still isn’t ready to watch the show.

Great news: Rupert - who co-founded the Terrence Higgins Trust - went on to reveal that the number of people getting tested for HIV had increased as a result of the programme

Great news: Rupert – who co-founded the Terrence Higgins Trust – went on to reveal that the number of people getting tested for HIV had increased as a result of the programme

Explaining that the impact would be too great, he said: ‘I can’t see the whole thing yet. I live on my own and I need to have someone with me to do it’.

The cast then invited Rupert to a viewing party so they could all watch it as a group after lockdown is over.   

Growing emotional, Nathaniel thanked Rupert and Deborah for their work and activism over the years, stating: ‘We are very proud of this show, but we just couldn’t have done it without you guys paving the way you have given us.’

Welling up, he continued: ‘Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.’ 

Heartwarming: Growing emotional, Nathaniel thanked Rupert and Deborah for their work and activism over the years that enabled them to make the show

Heartwarming: Growing emotional, Nathaniel thanked Rupert and Deborah for their work and activism over the years that enabled them to make the show 

It’s A Sin has already had 6.5 million views on All 4, making it the streaming services’ biggest ever instant box set, third biggest series to date and most binged new series ever.  

Starring Years & Years frontman Olly alongside a cast of rising stars and celebrated favourites including Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry and Neil Patrick Harris, It’s a Sin has been universally praised by fans.

Russell T Davies, the writer and producer behind Queer As Folk, the 2005 revival of Doctor Who and Cucumber, loosely based It’s A Sin on his own experiences in the eighties.

Cultural moment: The Terence Higgins Trust tweeted news of the huge impact it has had on viewers

Cultural moment: The Terence Higgins Trust tweeted news of the huge impact it has had on viewers

He also spent hours in conversation with his childhood friend Jill Nalder, an actor, ally and activist who lived in London during the decade and is played by Lydia West in the drama. The real-life Jill also appears, playing Lydia’s mother in episodes four and five.

The Terence Higgins Trust tweeted news of the huge impact it has had on viewers.

They tweeted: The power of TV to change lives. #ItsASin is Channel 4’s most binged watched new series and honours the heroes of the past — stopping our history being forgotten.

‘It’s also led to more people than ever taking action and getting tested during #HIVTestWeek. ‘What a legacy. LA!’

The Terrence Higgins Trust told MailOnline on Friday: ‘There has been a surge in HIV test following the It’s A Sin effect.

‘This is the biggest ever National HIV Testing Week (1-7 Feb) with tests being ordered at a faster rate than we’ve ever seen before.

‘On Monday we saw a x4 increase on a “usual day” or National HIV Testing Week to over 8,000.

As a result, the Public Health England has released 10,000 additional HIV self-sampling tests due to demand to make sure tests continue to be available.’

Wow: It's A Sin has already had 6.5 million views on All 4, making it the streaming services' biggest ever instant box set, third biggest series to date and most binged new series ever

Wow: It’s A Sin has already had 6.5 million views on All 4, making it the streaming services’ biggest ever instant box set, third biggest series to date and most binged new series ever

They continued: ‘We’re calling it the ‘It’s A Sin’ effect, with people re-engaged in important discussions around HIV.

‘Testing is crucial for seeing the end of new HIV cases by 2030 – which is the goal we’re working hard to achieve.’

Prior to 1996, HIV was a death sentence.

Then, ART (anti-retroviral therapy) was made, suppressing the virus, and meaning a person can live as long a life as anyone else, despite having HIV.

Inspired: Russell T Davies spent hours in conversation with his childhood friend Jill Nalder, ally and activist who lived in London during the decade and is played by Lydia West in the drama

Inspired: Russell T Davies spent hours in conversation with his childhood friend Jill Nalder, ally and activist who lived in London during the decade and is played by Lydia West in the drama

Drugs were also invented to lower an HIV-negative person’s risk of contracting the virus by 99%.

In recent years, research has shown that ART can suppress HIV to such an extent that it makes the virus untransmittable to sexual partners.

That has spurred a movement to downgrade the crime of infecting a person with HIV.

It leaves the victim on life-long, costly medication, but it does not mean certain death.

Information about HIV, other sexually transmitted infections and how to maintain good sexual health can be found out at https://www.tht.org.uk/ 

The Terrence Higgins Trust told MailOnline on Friday: 'There has been a surge in HIV test following the It’s A Sin effect'

The Terrence Higgins Trust told MailOnline on Friday: ‘There has been a surge in HIV test following the It’s A Sin effect’

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