The director behind the British AIDS drama It’s a Sin revealed he had to dial down Ritchie Tozer’s iconic threesome sex scene as there was “too much pleasure”.
Speaking to Digital Spy, Peter Hoar also tore into the pearl-clutching backlash that the Channel 4 show was dealt for its queer sex scenes, including an “appalling” report from The Sun that described viewer’s “shock” at men having sex.
The newspaper became a lightning rod of criticism for a story that rounded up viewer reaction to Olly Alexander‘s character, Ritchie, having sex with two men.
“We did have to lose a couple of moans,” Hoar said of the now iconic scene.
“The censors said that there was too much pleasure. Again, I’m now thinking back to that moment, and going, ‘F**k off! It’s not porn.
“But it was Ritchie in a threeway, and he was having the time of his life. So why did I have to take the tone of that out?”
He added that early on in the show’s creative process creator Russell T Davies received “a comment” from Channel 4 “that we should be aware of how we shoot our sex scenes, because there are certain things that people will be OK with, and there are certain things that people won’t.
“He and I sat down, and we basically both agreed if that’s the case, that’s not how we’re going to do it.
“We’re not doing this to keep people happy. We’re doing this to tell the right story.”
It’s a Sin director slams ‘appalling’ press for gay sex coverage
The scene, as much as it came to be celebrated by fans for its candid portray of queer sex, also became entangled in a debate over how the British press handles queer sexuality.
Describing the controversy that brewed around the clip, Hoar said: “Outraged. They’ve now edited the headline.
“That’s all I’ve seen. I don’t want to look at the paper, because they probably get a little hit if I do that.
“Basically, it started off by saying viewers were ‘shocked’ – and then it went to the Bridgerton thing, and it was like: ‘How much great sex is this?’
“I think it was literally a day later, two days later [that the headline changed]. Because the writer had been given a lot of stick. And I have no sympathy for them whatsoever.”
“I’m not going to worry about how people feel about the sex because this is our sex, and this is the way it is,” he added.
“How can you show the story of men having a life they loved, and dying from it, if you don’t show that sex?”
After a Twitter user offset a pair of headlines on the two shows, fans criticised The Sun for appearing to stoke the very sense of queer shame that the show challenges by describing gay sex scenes as “shocking” and “explicit”.
“SO MUCH SEX,” the It’s a Sin story headline began in the article first published 22 January. “It’s a Sin viewers shocked by drama’s explicit sex montage with raunchy threesome and oral sex.”
The header was contrasted by the user against a 30 December 2020 story on period dramas that rounded-up various scenes of mixed-sex couples canoodling.
Its headline read: “HISTORY BUFF: The period dramas with the hottest sex scenes ever – from Bridgerton‘s steamy oral sex to Versailles endless romps.”
Stung by the criticism, The Sun later changed the headline to: “‘LIBERATING!’ It’s a Sin viewers praise drama’s ‘wonderful’ sex montage and say raunchy scenes came ‘thick and fast’.”
The Sun insisted to PinkNews its It’s a Sin headline was in keeping with different ones written for other straight shows – though it conceded it “didn’t do it justice” and amended the wording.