The Doctor Who and A Very English Scandal writer has announced the A-List cast for his new drama Boys

Writing on Instagram, Russell T Davies has given details of the cast of upcoming drama Boys. And it’s an admirable selection of famous names, including Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Fry and Keeley Hawes.

The central trio is filled by Olly Alexander (Penny Dreadful, Skins) as Ritchie, alongside newcomers Callum Howells and Omari Douglas as his best mates Colin and Roscoe. Meanwhile the celebrated Keeley Hawes (Doctor Who: Time Heist, Bodyguard, and Ashes to Ashes) and Shaun Dooley (Epzo in The Ghost Monument) play Ritchie’s parents Valerie and Clive.  And Hollywood star Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, A Series of Unfortunate Events) co-stars as Henry Coltrane. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, he’s alongside Stephen Fry (QI, V for Vendetta, Blackadder) as Arthur Garrison MP.

Tracy Ann Oberman (Yvonne Hartman in Army of Ghosts/Doomsday) is Carol Carter. Nicholas Pegg, who has Dalek piloting as just one of his many skills, is also among the cast. Finally, Lydia West, who drew massive praise for her portrayal of ‘transhuman’ Bethany in Davies’ Years and Years earlier this year, plays Jill Baxter, the boys’ best friend.

Lydia West (Jill Baxter), Olly Alexander (Ritchie Tozer), Russell T Davies, Nathaniel Curtis (Ash), Omari Douglas (Roscoe Babatunde), and Callum Scott Howells (Colin Morris-Jones) at the Boys readthrough (c) Channel 4
Lydia West (Jill Baxter), Olly Alexander (Ritchie Tozer), Russell T Davies, Nathaniel Curtis (Ash), Omari Douglas (Roscoe Babatunde), and Callum Scott Howells (Colin Morris-Jones) at the Boys episode one readthrough (c) Channel 4

The new cast were quick to express their universal delight on Twitter.

Olly Alexander has called himself “the luckiest boy in the world” and expressed his huge pride at working with Russell T Davies. “I’ve been a fan 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.” And Omari Douglas said his “heart could burst with joy and gratitude.”

Stephen Fry called Boys “a vital, beautiful story of friendship & joy set against one of the most devastating decades for the gay community” and said he was “delighted” to be join the cast. Calling the entire team “off the scale,” Tracy Ann Oberman said she was “delighted & honoured to be part of this exquisitely funny yet moving series.”

Neil Patrick Harris, meanwhile, told Channel 4  it was “an honour to help tell this story.” “This drama is two things. It is an irresistible, funny, jubilant story of young people discovering their true identities. It is also a deeply resonant exploration of a decade when so many of these lives were cut short by the devastating … 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.”

Nicholas Pegg said he was both “honoured and thrilled beyond words” and called Davies’ work “incomparably brilliant” predicting “a fantastic series and a wonderful adventure.”

The story of a generation living in the shadow of AIDS, the 1980s drama arrives on Channel 4 next year

Casting for Boys has been performed by long-running Doctor Who casting director Andy Pryor. The five part series is directed by Peter Hoar and produced by Phil Collinson. Filming begins next week ahead of broadcast on Channel 4 in 2020.

The series focuses on three young gay men, Colin (Callum Howells), Roscoe (Omari Douglas) and Ritchie (Olly Alexander). The three meet when they all arrive in London in 1981 in search of adventure and a new life. But soon their new lives are disrupted by rumours of a mysterious new virus… As the episodes and the years pass, the rumour becomes a terrible reality. A threat that binds them to one another in the fight of their lives. Together they will endure the horror of the epidemic. Together they’ll stand up to the prejudices that gay men faced throughout the decade.

Speaking about the project earlier this year, creator Russell T Davies said, “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. So it’s an honour to write this for the ones we lost, and the ones who survived.”

Boys arrives on Channel 4 in 2020

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