Spoiler alert: This article contains plot hints for It's a Sin.
It's a Sin has quickly become one of the biggest shows of 2021 so far, with lots of viewers binge-watching the five-part Channel 4 drama in one sitting. In fact, Channel 4's streaming service, All 4, has had its biggest month ever in January, thanks to the drama; almost doubling last year's viewing figures.
Since airing a fortnight ago, the groundbreaking series has attracted 6.5 million streams on All 4 — making it the third biggest series to date and most binged new series ever, with the first episode All 4’s most popular drama launch on record.
Now, Lydia West, who plays Jill in It's a Sin alongside Keeley Hawes and Years and Years frontman Olly Alexander, has revealed a little-known fact about the backstory to her character.
Jill is the only girl in a group of gay men who all share a flat nicknamed 'the Pink Palace' in London in the 1980s. Their carefree coming-of-age (and identity) is suddenly cut short as the AIDs epidemic begins to infiltrate the gay scene, with terrifying and tragic consequences.
While fans of the show will know that the drama is semi-autobiographical – based on Queer as Folk writer Russell T Davies' experiences living in the city as a young gay man in the 80s – what they might not know is that the real-life Jill actually has a part in It's a Sin.
West told ELLE in a recent interview that Jill is actually on one of Davies' closest friends – and the actress was told while auditioning that she would star alongside her.
'[Davies] said: "Her name's Jill Nalder and she will be playing the part of your mum in the show",' West explained. 'I just felt so honoured firstly to be even just involved in the project. But also, playing someone who is in the room with me and playing my mum, it's just special.' Yep, that's right, the real Jill plays West's mum in It's a Sin.
Describing her as 'the most interesting woman,' West revealed that 'real life Jill embodies everything about the character Jill – she's just beautiful and fascinating'.
'She has so many anecdotes about the time, their friendship group and all living together in the Pink Palace in real life.'
It's a Sin has been lauded for its unflinching, compassionate and vibrant portrayal of the LBGTQ+ scene at the time. As well as highlighting the huge prejudice the gay community faced from wider society; something that is often overlooked.
Despite the trauma of living through such frightening and tragic times, West is hopeful that viewers will take away the fun and nostalgia of the decade, too – from the 80s fashion to the music and culture, the feeling of freedom and liberation – and the joyful times the gang had in the Pink Palace, of course.
'I was so happy to be immersed in in such an authentic way into that era through work, she said. 'I never wear blusher in everyday life. But Jill is massively into blusher and the big eyes and the make-up artists would like coat layers of blusher on the cheeks, no blending, just a constant flushed look and I’m into it.'
It's A Sin is currently showing on Channel 4 at 9pm on Fridays - or you can stream all five episodes on All4 now.
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