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Olly Alexander leads the cast of Russell T Davies’ 1980s-set drama Boys

Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry, Neil Patrick Harris, Tracy Ann Oberman, Shaun Dooley, Omari Douglas, Callum Scott Howells and Lydia West also star in the 5-part series charting the joy and heartbreak of four friends during a decade in which everything changed.

Casting has been announced on multi-BAFTA Award-winning writer Russell T Davies’ (Queer As Folk, A Very English Scandal, Years and Years, Doctor Who) brand new 5-part drama for Channel 4, Boys (working title).

It’s 1981, the start of a new decade and Ritchie, Roscoe and Colin begin a new life in London.

Strangers at first, these young gay lads, and their best friend Jill find themselves thrown together, and soon share each other’s adventures. But a new virus is on the rise, and soon their lives will be tested in ways they never imagined.

As the decade passes, and they grow up in the shadow of AIDS, they’re determined to live and love more fiercely than ever.

Olly Alexander, from the band Years & Years, plays 18-year-old Ritchie Tozer, the family’s golden boy, though he’s determined to keep his secrets from them.

Newcomer Omari Douglas plays London-born 17-year-old Roscoe Babatunde, a wild, brittle party boy, always on the run.

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Newcomer Callum Scott Howells plays Colin Morris-Jones, a quiet, unassuming, boy from Wales, about to become an apprentice on Savile Row.

Lydia West (Years and Years) plays Jill Baxter, Ritchie’s friend from college, straight-talking, funny, and the rock on which they rely.

Nathaniel Curtis plays Ash, a faithful friend through thick and thin.

The cast also includes Keeley Hawes (Honour, Bodyguard, The Durrells, Line of Duty), who plays Valerie, Ritchie’s mum, Shaun Dooley (Gentleman Jack, Broadchurch, Woman in Black) who plays Clive, his dad, Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, Gone Girl, A Series of Unfortunate Events) as Henry Coltrane, Stephen Fry (Wilde, Gosford Park, Bones) as MP Arthur Garrison, and Tracy Ann Oberman (Friday Night Dinner, Toast of London, After Life) as Carol Carter.

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Olly Alexander says: “I feel like the luckiest boy in the world to be a part of this project, I’ve been a fan of Russell T Davies ever since I watched Queer As Folk in secret at 14 years old.

“His work helped shape my identity as a gay person so I’m absolutely over the moon we’ll be working together. The script was amazing to read, I laughed and I cried a lot, it’s a privilege to be helping to tell this story and I’m so excited.”

Neil Patrick Harris says: “I’m so pleased, and incredibly proud, to be a part of Russell T Davies’ new series. This drama, Boys, is two things: it is an irresistible, funny, jubilant story of young people discovering their true identities and the unalloyed joy of living life to the fullest, it is also a deeply resonant exploration of a decade when so many of these lives were cut short by the devastating effects of the nascent AIDS pandemic.

“Russell’s scripts chart the highs and lows of this time so beautifully and deftly, it’s an honour to help tell this story.”

Filming begins next week and the series will air on Channel 4 in 2020.

Written by QWEERIST editor

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