'It's a Sin' is a Ratings Smash but Britain's Channel 4 was Leery at First

Monday May 3, 2021

Nathaniel Curtis, Callum Scott Howells, Neil Ashton, Olly Alexander, and Lydia West in 'It's a Sin'
Nathaniel Curtis, Callum Scott Howells, Neil Ashton, Olly Alexander, and Lydia West in 'It's a Sin'  (Source:Channel 4)

The British miniseries "It's a Sin" has been a huge success both in the U.S. (on HBO Max) and in Britain, where it was produced by Channel 4, but a television executive was uncertain at first, UK newspaper The Independent reports.

The reason, the account says, was the timing, with today's global COVID-19 crisis creating a backdrop that Channel 4 executive Alex Mahon feared would make the show unappealing.

"Really, in this pandemic, are people going to watch a drama about another pandemic?" the Independent quoted Mahon as saying. But the show's instant popularity and critical acclaim put her fears to rest: The five-episode miniseries, Mahon said, turned out to be "exactly the best that we could possibly aim for," the article noted.

Mahon shared her initial uncertainties and the way the show affirmed the decision to go ahead at the spring conference of independent group Voice of the Listener & Viewer (VLV), which "works to promote high quality broadcasting which maintains the democratic and cultural traditions of the UK" according to text at its website.

Mahon, the news report noted, told the VLV conference that "the series juxtaposed the 'shame' felt by people who contracted AIDS with 'what a joy it was to leave your provincial town and come to London, come out and have fun and live life to the full in the '80s'."

"And to find that we could bring people to that and explain the message in a beautifully written show and have an impact on society is just an absolutely exquisite joy to be associated with," Mahon added.

Noting that the series was written by "Queer As folk" creator Russell T. Davies, the Independent recalled that the series "starred Years & Years' Olly Alexander, Keely Hawes, Stephen Fry, Neil Patrick Harris and Omari Douglas."

Viewers flocked to the series' broadcast, tuning in en masse, but the show also did brisk business online, having been made available for streaming by Channel 4. Mahon "disclosed that 'It's a Sin' has been streamed 24 million times," the Independent reported.

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