It’s A Sin true story: Who was Jill Nalder and how accurate was her character?
The real-life Jill Nalder plays Jill’s mother in the series
It’s A Sin is Channel 4’s recent series that centres on a group of friends living in London amidst the AIDS crisis. The director, Russel T Davies, has said the story is based on much of his own experience growing up in the 80s during the pandemic. Although many of the characters are loosely based on his friends, Jill (played by Lydia West), was based on a real-life woman and friend of Davies, Jill Nalder.
The show has been widely praised for its depiction of the devastating illness, as well as the government’s complete neglect of the disease and those who contracted it. Among these praises is the love for Jill, a best friend and fierce ally who supports so many of her loved ones through their deteriorating health. Not only was this role dedicated to Jill Nalder, but she also plays Jill’s mother in the series.
Who is Jill Nalder from It’s A Sin?
Much like the depiction of Jill in the show, the real Jill Nalder was living with her best friends in London as the AIDS pandemic began to spread, leading to the heartbreaking deaths of many of her friends.
In an interview for Gay Times, Nalder recalled: “You’re living in London – which is all very exciting – and then all of a sudden, there’s a disease that literally changes everything”.
How accurate was the depiction of Jill Nalder from It’s A Sin?
Like her character in the show, Nalder was “very much involved in fundraising” for research around the illness. She said: “The West End community really came together because one thing everybody could do was entertain, and so there were a lot of late-night performances and shows.”
She was also dedicated to visiting victims of the disease so they had company in their final days. She said: “I went on endless hospital visits. You’re taking a place, in a way, of a family member because you become that family and just [have to] be there in a loving way. It’s not an exceptional thing to do. But it was hidden. Because you feel like, ‘Ok, I’ve got to go but not tell anyone I’m going'”.
Was watching some It's A Sin interviews with Russell T Davies and the cast and crew where he said the character Jill was based on someone he knew in real life called Jill and asked her to appear as the characters mum in the show. #ItsASin pic.twitter.com/jUPdI4OBrN
— Suzie's Stolen Champagne 🥂 (@suziesexposure) January 24, 2021
What part did Jill Nalder play in It’s A Sin?
The real Jill Nalder appears in episodes four and five, playing Jill’s supportive mother in the series. On Graham Norton’s radio show, Lydia West said Nalder had been there at the time of filming and how intimidating this has been.
She told Graham Norton: “[Davies] sent me a message saying the show was very loosely based about his life and his friends’ lives, and that the real Jill was playing my mother. He said: ‘I don’t want you to do anything differently, or analyse her or try and mimic it in any way.'”
West added how emotional it was to perform many of the scenes: “I think we tried to have as much fun as we could by getting really into the eighties spirit, dancing and celebrating. Then when it was time to do the scenes, especially the scenes in some of the wards, [they] were absolutely harrowing and emotional.”