Olly Alexander Starring in AIDS Drama From “Queer as Folk” Creator

The cast of "Boys" also includes Neil Patrick Harris.

Oh, boys! Russell T. Davies, creator of Queer as Folk, has announced the cast for Boys, his next series exploring British gay life.

Out Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander stars as 18-year-old Ritchie Tozer, one of three queer men starting new lives in London in the early 1980s, Variety reports.

“I feel like the luckiest boy in the world to be a part of this project,” Alexander, 29, writes on social media, adding that he’s been a fan of Davies since watching Queer as Folk “in secret” as a teen. “His work helped shape my identity as a gay person so I’m absolutely over the moon we’ll be working together.”

Alexander’s previous acting credits includes movies The Riot Club and God Help the Girl, as well as British teen drama Skins.

Ritchie will face the dawn of the AIDS epidemic alongside friends Roscoe and Colin, played by Omari Douglas and Callum Scott Howells, respectively. The cast of Boys also includes Neil Patrick Harris, Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry, Tracy Ann Oberman, Shaun Dooley, Lydia West, and Nathaniel Ash.

As we reported in August, Boys is a five-part drama that will air on Channel 4 in the U.K. According to an official synopsis, “the young trio, strangers at first, leave home at 18 and head off to London in 1981 with hope and ambition and joy. However, they’re walking straight into a plague that most of the world ignores.”

“Together they will endure the horror of the epidemic, the pain of rejection and the prejudices that gay men faced throughout the decade,” the synopsis continues. “There are terrible losses and wonderful friendships. And complex families, pushed to the limit and beyond. This is a series that remembers the boys we lost, and celebrates those lives that burned so brightly.”

“It is an irresistible, funny, jubilant story of young people discovering their true identities and the unalloyed joy of living life to the fullest,” says Harris, who plays a character named Henry Coltrane in Boys. “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.”

“I lived through those times, and it’s taken me decades to build up to this. And as time marches on, there’s a danger the story will be forgotten,” Davies said in a previous statement. “It’s an honour to write this for the ones we lost, and the ones who survived.”

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OLLY ALEXANDER stars as Ritchie in BOYS, Channel 4, 2020. Also starring KEELEY HAWES as Ritchie’s mum, Valerie, NEIL PATRICK HARRIS as Henry Coltrane and STEPHEN FRY as Arthur Garrison, plus TRACY ANN OBERMAN as Carol Carter, with SHAUN DOOLEY as Clive. The story of three young boys arriving in London in 1981, just as a new virus appears, @ollyyears stars alongside blazing new talent: LYDIA WEST (from Years and Years) as Jill, OMARI DOUGLAS as Roscoe, NATHANIEL CURTIS as Ash, CALLUM HOWELLS as Colin Cast by Andy Pryor Casting, Directed by Peter Hoar, produced by Phil Collinson. . . . @channel4 @redproductionco @ollyyears #boys @misskeeleyhawes @nathaniel.curtis @callumhowells_c @marsdoug @carlyle_david @tracyanno @stephenfryactually @nph @nathanieljhall @davidgajones @shaun_dooley_ @philcollinson @pjuk @nicolanshindler @andypryorcasting @realandypryor @meccleston Yes, I’ve gone from Years and Years to Years & Years, I know

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Boys has been gestating for at least five years. “It’s the kind of story that you think has been told, but then you realize it hasn’t been told in Britain,” Davies told Variety in 2015. “I am amazed that I haven’t written this before—I am amazed no one has. I think we are reaching a bit of a generational thing now where men like me in their 50s are looking back and realizing how shocking it was.”

Davies’ most recent projects include the HBO drama Years and Years and the Amazon miniseries A Very English Scandal. He is also executive-producing an upcoming reboot of Queer as Folk, his groundbreaking show about the lives and loves of gay men and lesbians, for NBCUniversal’s streaming service.

Boys is set to begin production this week and premiere late next year on Channel 4.

Celebrity interviewer. Foodie and Broadway buff in Manhattan. Hates writing bios.