Fresh from the success of A Very English Scandal, writer Russell T Davies is focusing on AIDs in the 1980s for his next British drama project.

The Doctor Who writer (above) has created The Boys, a five-part series for Channel 4. The series is produced by Studiocanal-owned Red Production Company, which recently made Netflix’s Michael C Hall-fronted thriller Safe.

The Boys follows the story of the 1980s, the story of AIDS, and the story of three boys, Ritchie, Roscoe and Colin, across the decade. 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. Year by year, episode by episode, their lives change, as the mystery of a new virus starts as a rumour, then a threat, then a terror, and then something that binds them together in the fight. It’s the story of their friends, lovers and families too, especially Jill, the girl who loves them and helps them, and galvanises them in the battles to come. Together they will endure the horror of the epidemic, the pain of rejection and the prejudices that gay men faced throughout the decade.

The Boys is the tenth collaboration between Russell T Davies and Red Production Company following shows such as Queer As Folk, Casanova, Cucumber, Banana, Bob & Rose and The Second Coming.

Commissioned by outgoing Head of Drama Beth Willis, Commissioning Editor Lee Mason and Commissioning Executive Jonny Richards, the show will go into production in 2019. It is executive produced by Red boss Nicola Shindler and Davies.

“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,” Davies said.

Mason added, “Nearly 20 years after the glorious Queer as Folk left an indelible mark on British TV and changed the pop culture landscape forever, I am thrilled Russell is back on Channel 4 with The Boys. It’s an incredibly important project that feels just as landmark, just as uncompromising, and just as heartfelt.”

Shindler said, “I’m thrilled to be working with Channel 4 and Russell again on this incredibly poignant and enthralling story. It’s full of what we’ve come to expect from Russell – a powerful but heart-warming story that highlights both the emotional fragility and strength of human nature, delivered through engaging and complex characters. The 1980’s AIDS epidemic was a deadly and uncertain period of time, and The Boys tells the human story behind the headlines.”