‘A Very English Scandal’ writer returns with ‘powerful, heart-warming’ new period drama

Channel 4 has announced the commission of a new 1980s-set drama about the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

The Boys will be written by award-winning Welsh screenwriter Russell T Davies, who adapted A Very English Scandal for BBC One earlier this year, starring Hugh Grant.

The five-part mini-series will follow “the story of the 1980s, the story of AIDS, and the story of three young men, Ritchie, Roscoe and Colin, across the decade.”

Writer Russell T Davies commented: “I lived through those times, and it’s taken me decades to build up to this. And as time marches on, there’s a danger the story will be forgotten. So it’s an honour to write this for the ones we lost, and the ones who survived.”

The official synopsis reads: “Ritchie, Roscoe and Colin are young lads, strangers at first, leaving home at 18 and heading off to London in 1981 with hope and ambition and joy… and walking straight into a plague that most of the world ignores. Year by year, episode by episode, their lives change, as the mystery of a new virus starts as a rumour, then a threat, then a terror, and then something that binds them together in the fight.

“It’s the story of their friends, lovers and families too, especially Jill, the girl who loves them and helps them, and galvanises them in the battles to come. Together they will endure the horror of the epidemic, the pain of rejection and the prejudices that gay men faced throughout the decade.

“There are terrible losses and wonderful friendships. And complex families, pushed to the limit and beyond. This is a series that remembers the boys we lost, and celebrates those lives that burned so brightly.”

Executive producer Nicola Shindler added: “I’m thrilled to be working with Channel 4 and Russell again on this incredibly poignant and enthralling story. It’s full of what we’ve come to expect from Russell – a powerful but heart-warming story that highlights both the emotional fragility and strength of human nature, delivered through engaging and complex characters.

“The 1980’s AIDS epidemic was a deadly and uncertain period of time, and The Boys tells the human story behind the headlines.”

Russell T Davies created ITV’s period drama The Grand, which was set in a Manchester hotel in the 1920s, and adapted Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for BBC One in 2016.

The Boys begins filming next year and will air on Channel 4 in the UK later in 2019.