Doctor Who’s Russell T Davies to exec produce new BBC Viagra drama

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies is to executive produce a new one-off BBC drama charting the true story of the world’s first medical trials for the drug that would go on to become Viagra.

Centring on a group of men in South Wales in 1994, the show written by Matthew Barry (Industry, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) stars an impressive cast including Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones, Misfits, Riviera), Aneurin Barnard (Dunkirk, The Pact) and Alexandra Roach (Killing Eve, Sanditon, No Offence) and Joanna Page (Gavin & Stacey, Dolittle).

The programme will tell of “a group of ordinary middle-aged Welsh men underwent the extraordinary, taking part in one of the first clinical trials for an unknown drug which later became Viagra.”

The official synopsis explains that: “Meurig Jenkins (Rheon), Colin White (Rhodri), Tommy Cadogan (Rhys), Peetham ‘Pete’ Shah (Sharma) and Eddie O’Connor (Jones) all have one thing in common. Impotency. It’s affecting them in every aspect of their lives, as they are drowning in shame and silence. Left feeling as failures as men, questioning their manhood, and having attempted their own fixes to no avail, the group is presented with a lifeline: a place on a trial for an unknown drug thought to cure impotence led by the ambitious Dr Dylan Pearce (Barnard) with support from clinical nurse Moira Davies (Page). As each man grapples with their own insecurities and hiding the truth from their loved ones – including their wives and partners Ffion Jenkins (Roach) and Teresa Rigby (Palfrey) who are also fighting their own battles – will this little pill be able to bring back their spark?”

The show is described as a mix of humour and drama and promises to be both a poignant and beautiful story.

Writer Matthew Barry said: “Who knew that one of the first Viagra trials in the world took place in 1994… in Swansea! I’m beyond delighted to be working with Nicola, Russell, and the entire team to bring this extraordinary tale to the screen. People hear the word impotence, and they wait for the punchline. But this story is about so much more. And with an incredible Welsh cast, led by Iwan Rheon and Alexandra Roach, I can’t wait to bring it to the screen.”

Lindsay Salt, Director of BBC Drama, said: “Men Up is a little-known chapter of our history, beautifully told across 90 minutes of poignant, funny, and life-affirming television. It’s no surprise that Matthew’s charming and intelligent script has attracted such a strong ensemble of acting talent, and I cannot wait to see them bring his words to life.”

BBC Cymru Wales Head of Commissioning Nick Andrews said: “It’s almost too extraordinary to be true. And yet it is! Matt Barry’s exquisite script has brought to life a precious true story, a social history, that will leave you punching the air with the sheer joy and triumph of it all. A truly Welsh story with global impact.”