It’s a Sin character Jill Baxter is the heart and soul of the Channel 4 drama series.
She has her heart broken several times during the five part series, as she loses more and more of her friends to AIDS.
Jill is actually based on a real life person called Jill Nalder, and she cameos in episode four and five as the mum of her own character!
Jill Nalder portrays Christine Baxter in the C4 series.
Here’s everything you need to know about Jill, her connection to the show and where she is now.
It’s a Sin: Who is Jill Baxter’s character based on?
Jill Baxter is played by Lydia West in the C4 drama series.
The character is based on Jill Nalder, a lifelong friend of It’s a Sin writer and creator Russell T Davies.
Jill lost up to 10 friends to AIDS in the 1980s, including three close friends.
Like Jill in the series, she is an actress and makes a cameo in the series as Christine Baxter, Jill Baxter’s mother.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Jill remembers how young men who contracted the virus at the time would “disappear”.
In the 1980s, when Jill Nalder was studying in London, she noticed young men were leaving and not coming back.
She says: “Boys would go home and sort of disappear. I lost three of my best friends in 18 months.”
Jill says it was a “devastating time”.
What does Jill Nalder think of It’s a Sin?
Speaking to the Acting Prime Minister podcast on ITV, Jill revealed it was “very emotional” to watch the story play out on TV.
Jill can relate to her It’s A Sin character.
She says: “The two things I relate to the most is frantically searching for information about the virus. I became like a dictionary of AIDS-related infections.
“And the hospital visits. Walking down the corridors and looking into the rooms and in each one seeing people around my age dying with AIDS. Seeing people with the kaposi sarcoma, the black marks on the skin, for the first time.
“Those images of the devastation that AIDS causes the body will always stay with me.”
Jill hopes It’s a Sin will make people realise how much times have changed.
“It is for them,” said Jill. “For the brave boys we lost.
“They were trailblazers fighting on the frontline. And we should never forget them.”
She describes an “overwhelming” response to the story she feels is “so important because it is real history that needs to be told”.
Speaking to Good Housekeeping, Jill says: “I really think it is making a difference.
“I think people are actually talking about AIDS and they’re talking about it with care.”
How does Jill know Russell T Davies?
Writer Russell T Davies is one of Jill’s childhood friends from Neath.
He told her she inspired him to write the series.
“I knew Russell from when we were at the West Glamorgan Youth Theatre in the 1970s,” she said. “It was such a joyous time.”
On moving to London at 18 to study musical theatre at Mountview Academy she and three friends lived in a flat they dubbed ‘The Pink Palace’.
“It was so exciting,” said Jill. “I was young, carefree and studying the thing I love.”
What does Jill do now?
Jill, now 60, is a gay rights campaigner, activist and actor.
The actress, from Neath in south Wales, performs in West End musicals.
In the late 1980s, Jill helped set up a charity called West End Cares, which raised over £2m in its first few years.
She says: “We’d do cabaret nights in West End pubs, and even put on late night performances of full West End shows. It was a great laugh.”
Now called Theatre MAD – which stands for Make a Difference – the charity has raised about £14m.
What does Lydia West say about Jill?
Lydia West explains that, the day before the read-through, Russell informed her that Jill exists and is one of his good friends – and that she’ll be playing her mum!
She says: “I met Jill at the read-through and it just felt so, so emotional to see her there. […]
“I had some conversations with her, and I got from her the absolute joy of the time, and the friendship, and the love.
“She was just so positive about all these friends that she brought into her life, and the years they spent together in the Pink Palace and the times in London and the fun, and that just kind of helped me to understand the tone.
“She is just astonishing and lovely. The fact that I was chosen to play a character inspired by someone who’s so close to Russell is just a massive honour and I feel very proud to do that.”
It’s a Sin episode four airs on Friday February 12 2021 at 9pm on Channel 4.
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