The screenwriter has previously told of how he had to pitch the drama to various broadcasters before Channel 4 picked it up, and he has now detailed how he refused to bow to a suggestion put to him by one network.
Speaking about the pushback he faced during the commissioning process, he told The Hollywood Reporter’s TV’s Top 5 podcast: “I was told at one channel, ’What if its start is on an AIDS ward in say, 1990 or 1992, with the machines and people dying, and then went, 10 years earlier....’.
“I thought that was unbelievably crass and literally refused to do it.”
He continued: “My producer said, ‘I know you don’t like that scene. If you just type it out, if you just type one page of that, it might get made’. I’d rather die than type that page. It’s the wrong way to tell it. There was a lot of nonsense like that.
“Then you just wait for the right commissioner. In my experiences, all the bosses will leave their jobs every two or three years. So just sit still and the right person will enter the seat again. Heads of department changed and I got [It’s A Sin] commissioned five years later.”
During the interview, Russell dismissed hopes for a second series of the show, explaining he had already “said everything I wanted to say” in It’s A Sin.
“I don’t know how I follow something like It’s A Sin. I think I’m just going to write something funny,” he added.
Despite not getting a second series, It’s A Sin was actually supposed to run for longer than five episodes, and feature a number of storylines that eventually had to be scrapped.
In an interview with Damian Barr’s Literary Salon last week, Russell revealed that It’s A Sin would ideally have run for eight episodes, and that there would have been an extra housemate living in the Pink Palace.
There was also supposed to be an episode that revisited the characters in the present day, which would have seen Roscoe discover he had HIV later in life and Jill confronting Ritchie’s mother about her behaviour as she visited her in her old age.
“It was never written, so it doesn’t exist, but it was kind of budgeted for,” Russell lamented.
It’s A Sin concluded on Channel 4 last month, with all five episodes still available to stream on All4.