My own private London. A gay life in the first year of It’s a Sin. Part Six of Six The Reviewers

Robin Rowland
10 min readMay 16, 2021
Jill and Roscoe make a futile attempt to visit Ritchie before he dies in the final episode of It’s A Sin.

(Contains spoilers and may trigger some AIDS survivor readers. Names in quotation marks are pseudonyms. Many of the names from the 80s aren’t mentioned because I don’t remember. Other names are real, taken from my occasional diary or letters I wrote)

It is obvious that It’s a Sin has made a profound affect on me. It compelled me to put aside the science fiction novel I am working on for a week or more to write this.

When the story is about what you experienced, you go into a theatre for a play or a movie or turn on the television and wonder, first of all, has Hollywood fucked it up? Or did they get it as right as you can when you’re producing a work that has to also appeal to a wide, usually commercial audience?

I did lead a parallel life to the story. I can’t say enough to praise Russel T. Davies writing. Olly Anderson is near perfect. I wish I could I call some of those old friends and say “Did you see him? He was you.” Anderson is also doing what they call in acting classes, “playing your fairy tale,” channeling his own experiences.

If The Doctor could take Anderson in the Tardis back to Heaven on the night I was there August 9, 1981, he would fit right in. If I had been lucky enough to spot him in the huge sweaty crowd, I would have asked him to dance. (Tardis technically we would both be 30).

Some of the reviews from both the critics and activists have taken issue with the portrayal of the women, especially Jill, and the Black community, mainly Roscoe, who they say weren’t fully realized as characters.

For those I have two answers.

First most of you weren’t there.

The old advice of writing about what you experienced and what you know holds true. You write about the people you knew, your lovers, your friends, the activists, the people you met. In the gay community of the 1970s and 1980s for me that was mostly other white men. Writing about what you experienced in a situation like the AIDS crisis can be so exhausting and also liberating at the same time.

Writing a story or script that is both painful and personal never lends itself to checking boxes whether…

Robin Rowland

Independent visual journalist in Kitimat, BC, Canada. Author of five books, more at