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07th Sep 2015

Exclusive: This Is England ’90 cast sit down – and get naked – with JOE

Mad fer it

Lia Nicholls

There’s jeering and pleas for Thomas Turgoose (This is England’s Shaun) to drop his trousers.

It’s clear his peers aren’t going to let up so he succumbs, and as we cheer – with me clapping along – I’m also looking around thinking ‘Erm, what the f**k is happening here?’

The reason quickly becomes apparent with the sight of his bare botty; on it is every name from the This Is England cast. There are 12 in total, so as you can imagine it’s pretty busy back there.

At this point I should probably apologise for not offering pictorial evidence, but I’m just not that brave. Although I can tell you that Vicky McClure’s name is misspelt.

Sitting down with the cast ahead of the first screening of director Shane Meadows’ revered drama is as delightfully chaotic as I imagined it to be; they talk over one another, finish each others sentences and constantly take the piss. A bit like being with your family at Christmas.

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Thomas Turgoose, Vicky McClure and Joe Gilgun are telling the story of the This Is England wrap party when they “absolutely nailed the make-up truck”.

“We had a wrap party before the wrap party in there, we were all so over-excited. It was mad,” says Vicky, who plays every man and woman’s crush Frances Lorraine “Lol” Jenkins in the series.

Their boozy tale quickly turns to emotion as they describe it as the final time with “the gang”.

“I’ve just been torn to pieces again, I just found it all really emotional,” adds Vicky, close to tears. “I cried like I had a newborn taken away from me, it was the cry where you can’t breathe. It was a grieving.

“We’re as proud and passionate and excited about this as the audience are, and of course we’re all sad it is ending. We’re all going to stay in touch, we can’t not – we’re like a family, as cliché as it is.”


This Is England ’90, the final instalment of Shane Meadows’ Channel 4 series, airs on Sunday, September 13. The first episode is heart-warming, funny and includes a brilliant Madchester club scene.

It’s appears to be a happier time; Lol has reconciled with ex-boyfriend Woody and is living with him, Milky and her two children fathered by each of them. The excitement of the rave scene is sweeping over the group of loyal friends.

Conscious of not giving too much of the plot away, Vicky says: “The arc of the storyline, if you’re constantly going through misery, it’s too much, it’s too bleak man. You don’t want to be dark for the sake of being dark, I think it needed to be happier.

“Don’t get me wrong it is gonna be dark but ’88 was made ultimately to pave the way for ’90, I mean everyone was affected by 86′.”

Thomas adds: “Everyone grows up a lot in this one, that’s the thing about This Is England, and Shane manages to do very well. You change in very subtle ways as you get older, perhaps you don’t realise at the time.”


Shortly after Thomas met Shane and joined This Is England, his mum passed away. The Grimsby born actor was only 13, which meant he gravitated towards the cast, quickly becoming part of the family.

“I spent a lot of time with them. When you’re 13 and starting to become a man…well…I mean becoming a man with all these lot, it was amazing,” he says.

“We’re saying goodbye to the series but not to each other, we’ve grown up together, we’ll stay in touch.”

The hedonistic rave scene of the nineties, were they part of it? How much of it resonates?

“No chance!” says Joe (Woody) loudly. “I was discovering erections! I was showing my dad my little pink todger!”

Thomas adds: “I was still in a bawbag in the nineties!”, with Andrew quickly adding: “Aw man, don’t write that!”

Jo Hartley (Cynthia) is one of the only cast members who does remember it and without prompting, she rattles off some epic stories.

“I didn’t have to do much research as I remember it,” she says. “I started going clubbing in ’88, I was friends with Noel Gallagher and Shaun Ryder and all that before they were famous.

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“We used to go raving; the ecstasy scene, smiley faces, acid house, it was all brilliant. I’ve got my mad hair and glasses on so don’t get to do it in on the show. Shane knows all about it because he was there too.

“We didn’t have the internet, we used to meet in the park at 6pm, go to the pub, have a drink and get on the bus to the Hacienda and all meet there. That’s what Shane gets across, it’s the effort you had to go out and see each other.

“You’d meet at 2am, steam coming off ya, you’d get in a car, like eight of ya and go to Blackburn and rave all night, it was amazing! We haven’t had a scene since.”

Shouting into the dictaphone she says: “Come on people, we’re ready for a scene!”


The only research Andrew Shim (Milky) found himself doing was Googling famous people.

“A lot of our comedy comes from obscure celebrity references,” he says. “A lot of it is improvised so you have to quickly Google whether certain people were around, like whether Moira Stewart was a newsreader at that time. Of course she bloody was.”

It’s a character story but the genius is down to Meadows’ ability to capture the era; the music, the styling, all authentic owing to his own experiences. There’s an epic rave scene in the first episode, and it’s hard to believe they were acting and not actually popping pills.

Thomas says: “Shane will do this amazing thing where he’ll set up a rave and put someone on the DJ box, play loads of music and give us a beer and says, ‘right, go have fun and we’ll film round ya’.

“It’s like we’re walking into a rave for real  He’s always got a story to tell about these places and he tells them so well, you remember them.”

With all the right ingredients there, a dedicated cast and an army of loyal fans, why put an end to it now? Surely there’s room for another without it becoming stale.

“As far as we know, this is it,” says Thomas. “Well, we might do another one, like when Shane needs his mortgage paying…”

This Is England ’90, episode one, airs on Sunday, September 13.