Russell T Davies pays moving tribute to ‘those we lost’ to AIDS as It’s a Sin wins NTA

Olly Alexander in It's a Sin, embracing a man

Russell T Davies paid tribute to those who died during the AIDS pandemic that tore through Britain in the 1980s as It’s a Sin won big at the National Television Awards.

In a defining moment for queer representation, the British public overwhelmingly voted for It’s a Sin as best new drama – a show written by a queer man, about queer people and played by a queer-majority cast.

The wrenching, euphoric Channel 4 drama starring Olly Alexander followed the lives and lusts of young queer people in London on the onset of the AIDS crisis.

For its creator, Russell T Davies, the win was a stunning rebuke to the TV bosses that dismissed him or never believed It’s a Sin would capture the hearts of the public.

Davies, 58, said at the awards, which took place at London’s The O2: “I’d just like to say, this is a story about a pandemic in which many people lost their lives.

“So, I’d like to dedicate this award to those we lost, those who lived, those who learned and those we loved.”

After Davies cheekily nudged Olly Alexander to “say something”, the Years & Years singer added: “This show is so brilliant, from everybody in the cast to the crew, in the production behind the scenes.

“It was the hugest privilege of my life to be part of it, so thank you to everybody who voted.”

He later added in a tweet: “I can’t begin to describe how proud I am to be part of a show with such a powerful narrative surrounded by talented humans.”

Chatting to WalesOnline after the ceremony, Davies took aim at the TV programmers who responded to It’s a Sin with hesitation when he first started pitching it.

“There was one television executive who referred to it as ‘that miserable Aids drama’,” he said while holding his trophy.

“Where are they tonight? They won’t get to lick my trophy!”

The premise, Davies told PinkNews earlier this year, was “hard to sell” to TV channels.

“Genuinely, because it’s about people dying,” he said. “It’s a tough piece of work. And I can’t sit here now with any guarantee that people will watch it – it’ll be really interesting to know.”

Some 19 million people watched It’s a Sin on Channel 4’s streaming service, according to figures from the broadcaster.