The It’s a Sin true story revealed - the reality behind the 1980s drama

Is the Russell T Davies drama series based on fact?

Characters from series, It's a Sin
(Image credit: Channel 4)

The drama series It’s a Sin has had viewers hooked by its ability to be simultaneously heartbreaking, inspiring, and at times hilarious. Created by Russell T Davies (Doctor Who, Queer as Folk), it tells the story of young gay men who each leave their homes and move to London. 

With a star-studded cast to bring this highly moving series to life, including Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander, as well as Keeley Hawes and Neil Patrick Harris, it’s no surprise that you might want to know how to watch It’s a Sin

The show explores the prejudices that gay men faced during this period when homophobic attitudes were entrenched in British society. 

For those who have already delved into the series, the question of what the It’s a Sin true story really is and if the series is based upon real-life won’t be far from your mind.

Is It’s a Sin a true story?

Whilst some viewers might imagine the dramatic events of the popular series to be true, writer Russell T Davies has reportedly said that It’s a Sin is not, in fact, a true story. 

Though the HIV/AIDS epidemic was prevalent in the United Kingdom at this time, the stories shown in It’s a Sin and which revolve around this small group of friends are fictional. 

Were the It's a Sin characters real people?

Though the plotline of It’s a Sin may be fictional, many of the characters in the show are understood to have been inspired by real-life people in creator Russell T Davies’ life. Speaking to the press ahead of the show's premiere, Russell discussed the real people and true events which inspired the series.

According to The Daily Express, he shared: "A lot of it is based on myself and people I know and stories of people I knew, stories that have built up for decades."

"It's just kind of bits from all over the place," Russell added. 

Davies also explained how the character of Colin, played brilliantly by Callum Scott Howells, is based on a man he once knew named John.

He disclosed: "Colin is actually based on someone I went out with in the nineties who trained to be a tailor and went to New York to fit Lords and Ladies who lived in New York with their suits and gowns. "

Russell also shared how he has commemorated people that he used to know in certain elements of the show.

“I was 18 in 1981and I went to University and a lot of my friends went to live in London and all my gay friends went to live there and they all moved into a big flat in Hampstead, I think it was and they called it the Pink Palace.”

"[A] lot of the dialogue has got their jokes, their rhythms and stuff like that. There will be a few friends I haven't seen in years who will be watching going 'This is slightly familiar'”. 

Russell went on to add that: “some of them are, of course, no longer with us”, before explaining that it was nice to “remember them”.

If you haven't already watched It's a Sin, what are you waiting for?

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is Senior Lifestyle Writer for, and and she loves sharing the latest lifestyle, celebrity and entertainment news. Before joining Future, previously TI Media, Emma was a Freelance Editor and before that a Publisher for an independent digital publisher. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!