TV

Channel 4 bosses were worried about It’s a Sin response

Josh Milton May 2, 2021
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Its a Sin has so much to teach us in the ongoing battle against HIV stigma

The central cast of It's A Sin. (Channel 4)

Channel 4 bosses were nervous about what response Russell T Davies’ AIDS drama It’s a Sin would receive.

The British television programme has earned plaudits for its raw and euphoric look into the lives of queer folk in their 20s who arrived in London at the beginning of the 1980s – all the while the shadowy threat of AIDS lurked ahead.

But when Davies began pitching the show to network bosses, he was often met with hesitation, he previously told PinkNews.

And this included Channel 4’s chief executive Alex Mahon, who said at the VLV Spring Conference that she was initially worried viewers may not be keen on a show so centred on public health amid the coronavirus pandemic.

She said according to the Associated Press: “I was worried about it because I thought: ‘Really, in this pandemic, are people going to watch a drama about another pandemic?'”

While parallels have been drawn between the two crises, it seems that all of Mahon’s concerns were for nought. The show went on to smash an array of viewing records, which, she said, was “exactly the best that we could possibly aim for”.

“It’s popular, it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s saddening, but it’s bang on remit.”

Among the viewership records broken, It’s a Sin has been streamed 6.4 million times in just 10 days since dropping on All 4, the broadcaster’s streaming service.

And that, Mahon said, is something to be proud of.

As well as how the show contrasted the “hideousness” and sense of “shame” that shrouded queer people in the epidemic with “what a joy it was to leave your provincial town and come to London, come out and have fun and live life to the full in the ’80s”.

“And to find that we could bring people to that and explain the message in a beautifully written show and have an impact on society is just an absolutely exquisite joy to be associated with,” she added.

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