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It’s A Sin: Acting Grad Callum Scott Howells’ TV Debut

14 January 2021

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It’s already being lauded as the hottest thing to watch this year and we can’t wait until It’s A Sin, from the multi-award winning writer (and RWCMD Fellow) Russell T Davies, with grad Callum Scott Howells in his TV debut, hits our screens next week.

Callum, who graduated in 2020, filmed the role in his final year at RWCMD. He’s joined by a glorious cast including newcomers like himself, alongside a host of well-known faces including Keeley Hawes, Olly Alexander, Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Fry.

Although the series focuses on a group of young friends during the Aids epidemic of the 1980’s Callum assures us in his recent Guardian interview, ‘It’s not mainly about death. It’s about life: their vibrant, colourful, beautiful lives.’

Callum as Colin with his new friends in It's A Sin. Credit: Channel 4

Callum as Colin with his new friends in ‘It’s A Sin.’ Credit: Channel 4

Training at RWCMD

As Callum already had an agent before he joined RWCMD, having appeared in the musical She Loves Me at the Menier Chocolate Factory, was he tempted to carry on performing and not go to College?

‘I knew I needed to train. I knew it was vital as otherwise I wouldn’t have a career with any longevity.’

‘RWCMD was the perfect school for that industry standard training, and also for me as a person. It’s given me the muscularity to be a complete actor, ready to start my career. Acting is such a multi-faceted job and what the College does so brilliantly is to get you to immerse yourself in it all – working with so many specialists, from radio to screen and everything in between.’

Callum with Neil Patrick Harris in It's A Sin. Credit: Channel 4

Callum with his mentor Neil Patrick Harris in ‘It’s A Sin.’ Credit: Channel 4

How did your RWCMD Training Prepare you for TV?

‘The College totally prepared me for this role. There was very little that happened during filming that I wasn’t expecting, given the breadth of the training I had.’

Callum as Colin. Credit: Channel 4

Callum as fresh-faced Welsh boy Colin. Credit: Channel 4

‘I had the most brilliant teachers, all industry professionals. For example, the brilliant Suzanne Packer, (who’s now one of RWCMD’s senior lecturers) has been in the industry for years and taught me so much and was everything you’d want from a teacher.

Director Lee Haven Jones*  taught us about delivering a performance on screen and bringing aspects of yourself to the work. Although you’re playing a character, it’s my face you see on the screen so for it to be truthful I have to bring something real, that’s me, alongside my interpretation of the script.’

*Lee regularly directs Doctor Who, including the 2021 New Years Day special, and also directed the College’s short film Dove. 

Callum with Russell T Davies when Russell came to RWCMD to give his BAFTACymru talk in 2019

Callum with Russell T Davies when Russell came to RWCMD to give the Royal Television Society 60th Anniversary lecture in 2019

‘One of the main things that really attracted me to RWCMD is the fact that in your final year you join its rep company, the Richard Burton Company, working with the Stage Manager and Design for Performance students on such a variety of different plays.’

In his final year Callum returned from filming to perform in RWCMD's production of Simon Stephen's 'Motortown.' Credit: Simon Gough 

In his final year Callum returned from filming to perform in RWCMD’s production of Simon Stephen’s ‘Motortown.’ Credit: Simon Gough

‘It was also the teaching. I got a glimpse of how the teachers work in my audition which was so exciting and really confirmed for me that there was nowhere else I’d rather train.’

Staying Grounded

So how is he coping with the attention that comes with starring in a Russell T Davies production?

‘RWCMD and the friends I made there have really kept me grounded. It’s not part of the College ethos to be a ‘star,’ it’s all about the acting and what you can bring to that. Their teaching instills in you that you have to keep that level of commitment and professionalism throughout.’

If you can’t wait for It’s A Sin to premiere on Channel 4 on Friday 22 Jan, here’s the trailer to keep you going:

All It’s A Sin photos: credit Channel 4

UPDATE: Everybody’s Talking About Colin – just some of the press about Callum, from Attitude,  Independent and Notion – ‘the break out star Callum Scott Howells, the young actor we all need to watch this year.’

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