Lydia West’s year in TV: ‘It’s a Sin got me into HIV and Aids activism’

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Lydia West, 28, made her debut in Russell T Davies’s Years and Years in 2019, and worked with him again in 2021 on the hit series It’s a Sin for Channel 4. She will star in the BBC drama Inside Man later in 2022, with Stanley Tucci and David Tennant.

You starred in It’s a Sin in 2021 – what was it like to work on a show that had such a huge cultural impact?
It was mind-boggling. The whole year was a bit of a blur; being recognised as a Bafta Breakthrough Brit was a highlight, though. It’s not often you can say you’ve been part of a project that’s both entertaining and educational. Personally, I did extensive research, and got into HIV and Aids activism. That’s a role I don’t take lightly. What happened in the 80s can feel like a distant part of history, but it was less than 40 years ago. We can still learn a lot from it, and remember and honour those that we lost during the fight.

With Olly Alexander in It’s A Sin.
With Olly Alexander in It’s A Sin. Photograph: Ross Ferguson/Channel 4

What would you be doing if you weren’t an actor?
I dip in and out of different hobbies – my current obsession is pottery. I’ve really gotten into it since watching The Great Pottery Throw Down on Channel 4, so I started an eight-week pottery course. So I’m going to say I would be a ceramic artist, though I’m absolutely terrible so far.

What makes you angry?
The news and politics. And on a more trivial level, when I’ve caught up on all the episodes of Married at First Sight Australia and I have to wait for the weekend for the next load of episodes.

The TV show you can’t wait to come back?
I’m excited for the next series of The Crown with Elizabeth Debicki, and seeing how they approach that period of time – the next series will be set in the 1990s.

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Your favourite TV show growing up?
The Simpsons, because I remember it being on every night at 6pm, around the time my parents got home from work, and us all watching it together.

What do you eat in front of the TV?
My current snack of choice is chocolate-covered raisins.

When was the last time the TV made you cry?
Episode six of This Is Going to Hurt. I thought it was amazing – so moving and real, and sensitively done. Ambika Mod is absolutely brilliant.

Are you Succession’s Team Shiv or Team Tom?
Team Tom. I just think he’s hilarious. He’s sneaky, but Shiv’s a Roy, and I don’t support any of the Roys. Actually, wait, I’m thinking about the series three finale again – I felt really sorry for her. Can I change my answer?