It’s a Sin

Having found Alice (sort of) we now turn our attention to the new Russell T Davies offering, It’s a Sin. This has been widely trailed and had good reviews; nevertheless I was a little wary because I’d been feeling down last night and didn’t want to get downer. In case you missed the trailers, It’s a Sin deals with the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s, a time when homosexuality was legal but still deeply stigmatised, especially in traditional communities. But I needn’t have worried; so far it’s a delight. The series centres on three guys; Ritchie, a sheltered young lad from the Isle of Wight going to university on the mainland; Roscoe, a Nigerian whose family already know of his homosexuality and are planning to ship him back home to be ‘cured’, and a young Welshman Colin joining a London firm of couturiers seemingly staffed exclusively by gay men. There’s a predatory boss reminiscent of Monty in Withnail and I and an older colleague, Henry, who takes Colin under his wing and later dies of a mysterious disease, alone and abandoned by everyone including his Argentine lover. At uni, Ritchie falls in with a wild and joyous crowd and ends up changing from Accountancy to Drama, and as for Roscoe, he leaves the family home dressed in short skirt, skimpy top and headband so his trajectory is already set. I expected It’s a Sin to be sad; I did not expect it to be joyous, but so far it largely is. Episode one concentrates on music, dance, sex, self-discovery and joyous self-expression and ends with the three men plus two of their friends moving into a huge house together. It reminded me of the Small Axe films, especially Lovers Rock; it has something of that spirit in showing us a marginalised and oppressed community expressing itself.

It’s hard to imagine now just how hidden homosexuality was back in 1981. The Tory government – arguably stuffed with closet gays of which I suspect Stephen Fry’s character will turn out to be one – was vicious in its opposition to gay rights and at least one member of the cabinet, Matthew Parris, found serving in Thatcher’s government as a gay man a deeply uncomfortable experience. So far Thatcher has not been mentioned by name, nor has the Falkland’s war but there’s some anti-Argentine feeling expressed by one of Henry’s neighbours.

So it’s definitely worth a watch.

We’re still working through Mark Kermode’s series on cinema, of which more anon. I can’t help thinking it would have been better to have more episodes and take more time doing it, as it’s a bit of a whistle-stop tour so I find myself pausing half-way through in order to digest. This week’s episode was about cult films – we’re still waiting to see if he mentions Withnail.

And that was yesterday. Today we have no snow and the world is a muddy green.

Kirk out

4 thoughts on “It’s a Sin

  1. In reverse order, I’ve enjoyed the eps of the Mark Kermode series I’ve been able to watch so far [I might have recoded then deleted one: d’oh!], but I agree with what you say about the breakneck pace of the references; I also feel a bit sorry for MK now that his marvellous quiff has gone grey 😉 With regard to It’s a Sin, not my cup of meat at all, but bravo to whichever channel is showing it [can’t recall: 4 maybe?], because I abhor the enforced suppression of a human being’s personality, however that might present itself, on ‘moral’ grounds, and although we in the West are now more liberal [a description that can be too easily redefined according to one’s values], we still have a long way to go, especially in countries like ‘Murica, and don’t mention Russia…….. Cheers, Jon.

  2. When AIDS came to prominence, I was working in the Notting Hill area for the London Ambulance Service. At first, sufferers were treated the same way as biological warfare victims. We wore full protective clothing when dealing with them, and then everything we used, and all the items from the back of the ambulance, were sent to be destroyed by incineration. Then the ambulance was taken off the road to be completely professionally disinfected. Dealing with one AIDS patient might take up a whole shift.
    Later on, they opened the Lighthouse, the Terence Higgins Trust unit for AIDS patients. That was in the street behind my ambulance station, so we went there on an almost a daily basis. I came to know many of the patients and staff well, and saw many of them die too.
    I think I will give the new C4 series a miss. I don’t want to be reminded of that time now.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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