Olly Alexander credits Queer as Folk with ‘scandalising’ and ‘shaping’ him as a gay teenager

Olly Alexander surrounded by friends in a bar

It’s A Sin star Olly Alexander has reflected on how watching Queer as Folk shaped him as a young gay teenager.

The Years & Years frontman plays a lead role in It’s A Sin, Russell T Davies’ eagerly-anticipated Channel 4 series about the AIDS crisis that’s already been hailed his best work yet.

It’s a full circle moment for Alexander, who would have been eight years old when Davies’ seminal gay drama Queer As Folk first aired in 1999.

The star recalled in a Q&A session the first time he came across the show and how – like many gay men of his generation – he found it eye-opening.

“I remember being 14 years old and watching Queer as Folk with my friend at her house – in secret, in her upstairs bedroom, away from her parents” Alexander said.

“I remember being so scandalised because I’d never seen men on television touching each other before or with their clothes off. It was very scandalous to me at that age, and it left a mark on me.”

However, it wasn’t until he was older, when he revisited the show, that Alexander realised just how big an impact it had had on him.

“I felt like it had such an important part in shaping me as a gay guy and the culture and the community I’ve grown up in.

“So when I heard Russell was making a show, I just wanted to be involved. I didn’t need to hear anything else. And then when I read the script and story, I was so moved by it. And I think it’s one of the coolest things ever.”

It’s A Sin stars Olly Alexander as Ritchie, who arrives in London from his home on the Isle of Wight aged 18 eager to find himself.

It’s 1981, and soon Ritchie, his new friends Roscoe (Omari Douglas) and Colin (Callum Scott Howells) become aware of a virus sweeping through the gay community.

A trailer for It’s A Sin reveals that Ritchie is quick to dismiss HIV as a hoax, but the series promises to lay bare the devastating effects the AIDS crisis had on the gay community, and to pay tribute to those who lost their lives and were forgotten by society.

Alexander is hopeful that the story will educate those who were lucky enough to escape the worst of the crisis by virtue of their age.

“I really think a story has the power to change the way you feel about something,” he said.

“That’s how I’ve really come to understand a lot of this era, through amazing works of fiction, and I think this story is so moving… and I think that leads people a little bit more to more understanding.”

It’s A Sin launches on Channel 4 and All 4 on 22 January at 9pm.