It’s A Sin star Callum Scott Howells lost two of his grandparents to Covid-19.
The 21-year-old newcomer has had his breakthrough role in the biggest show of 2021 so far, winning critical praise for his portrayal of the adorable and naive Colin in Russell T Davies’ drama about the HIV/Aids crisis.
Sadly, two of his grandparents died before the show aired, after they contracted coronavirus.
Speaking to the Independent, Callum said: ‘I’m fighting for my grandparents. They were the biggest part of my life.
‘People deny that Covid-19 is real? I can tell you it is real because my grandparents are dead. Sorry, I know that’s really brutal. I’m sorry if you find this too direct.’
It’s A Sin tells the story of the Aids epidemic in the 1980s from the perspective of a group of young gay men living in London, who are sceptical of the news that a virus is spreading among gay men.
Callum says that the show has ‘frightening parallels’ with today’s world, with many people sceptical of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed over 2 million people worldwide and infected 100 million.
The Welsh actor said: ‘I remember sitting in the make-up truck on set and being like, “Oh, there’s this thing called coronavirus and people are saying it’s going to come over here.” And you just hope it will disappear.
‘Fast forward to now and we’re on Zoom and we can’t meet in person because of this pandemic. It’s similar to the Aids crisis in the sense that people didn’t think it was real. And as soon as it hits you just go, “F***”.’
Russell T Davies previously compared the two epidemics, telling ITV: ‘It’s very interesting with the new virus coming along now that it’s on the news every night. Part of the problem with the HIV virus is that it wasn’t on the news. It happened in silence, it happened in fear.
‘That then makes people lie and that then makes people ashamed, and that closet door just tightens and the situation gets worse and worse. That silence literally led to more deaths.
‘What a strange time. It’s good for all of us to look back.’
Callum’s character Colin is a bright-eyed, earnest lad from the Welsh valleys who moves to London after getting a job at a tailors.
He’s given the confidence to explore his sexuality after meeting a gay man in work (Neil Patrick Harris), and eventually moves into the Pink Palace with new friends including Ritchie (Olly Alexander) and Jill (Lydia West).
However, among all the fun, romance, sex and partying, HIV is infringing on the friend group, and is set to destroy lives.
It’s A Sin continues at 9pm on Friday on Channel 4, while the full series is available on All4.