Rising star Callum Scott Howells will be on everyone's lips after they've watched a few episodes of Russell T Davies’ drama It’s A Sin.
The five-parter coming to Channel 4 and HBO Max is a vibrant portrayal of 1980s London set against the darkening backdrop of the AIDS crisis. While it boasts an all-star cast, including Keeley Hawes, Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Fry, it’s the newcomers who arguably steal the show, and that includes Callum.
Fresh out of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, with a few minor theatre roles under his belt, Callum plays sweet, shy Colin Morris-Jones, who arrives from South Wales into the hedonistic world of London’s gay scene.
Known as Gladys Pugh to his friends Ritchie (Olly Alexander), Jill (Lydia West) and party boy Roscoe (Omari Douglas), in a nod the Welsh Hi-de-Hi! comedy character made famous by Ruth Madoc, Colin finds work in a Savile Row tailoring shop and an ally there in his debonair gay colleague Henry Coltrane, played by Neil Patrick Harris. He later takes a trip to New York, which proves eye-opening and eventful.
But as the AIDS crisis escalates, the repercussions are devastating and Colin isn’t the only one caught in its shadow.
We caught up with Callum, who tells us more about his character Colin and why he loved working closely with US star Neil Patrick Harris…
Callum Scott Howells reveals what it was like landing his first TV role in the Russell T. Davies drama It’s A Sin
“It’s bonkers," says Callum Scott Howells. "You have take a moment to process it. I grew up watching Doctor Who so I knew a different strand of Russell’s work. Now I’ve watched Queer as Folk and Cucumber. But it’s great. There’s so much to get your teeth into. We’re so lucky as actors to be working with really amazing writing.”
Callum Scott Howells on his It’s A Sin character Colin (aka Gladys Pugh)
“There’s a naivety to Colin and he’s learning everything as he goes. Even though they’re similar ages, Colin really admires Roscoe and he learns a lot from him. There’s real love there. There’s an opposites attract thing in this beautifully platonic friendship kind of way. They’re like family.”
Callum Scott Howells on working with Neil Patrick Harris in It’s A Sin
“It was just amazing. Honestly, Neil is a magician, he really is, he’s a wizard! It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life, that first moment being on set with him. And he was so generous and nice to me and I felt like he made it so easy to play Colin because I was constantly so in awe of him. We’re so lucky in terms of the older actors who are in this series, like Neil and Stephen Fry. To be able to talk to them and work with them has been amazing.”
Callum Scott Howells explains the joy and the heartbreak behind It’s A Sin
“At the start of the story nobody knows what’s about to come in terms of AIDS. The boys are all so young and fresh and let loose. They’re just so joyful, but they’re not aware how much AIDS is going to affect their friends and loved ones and community. Leaving home is also a theme in the story, and with that comes a kind of liberation and sexual awakening. It’s a story about love and with love comes sex.”
Callum Scott Howells reveals what he knew about the AIDS crisis of the 1980s before taking on the role of Colin in It’s A Sin
“I was never taught about it in school and I never knew about it until my late teens. Particularly my generation, and my generation in Wales, we never talked about it. Now, being able to play this role in this show I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by all this information about what happened. I think that’s what’s going to be really important about this show is that people are going understand how it affected so many people.”
When can we see Callum Scott Howells in It’s A Sin?
The five 60-minute episodes began on Channel 4 on Friday 22 January at 9pm and all episodes are now available on its On Demand service All4. It’s A Sin will air in the US from February 18 on HBO Max.
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.