News Column

Poignant connections in Shane's film gang

August 31, 2013


An Evening With The Cast Of This Is England The Approach Sharon Walia THE cast of This is England came together for the second time at the city centre bar, The Approach, in Friar Lane.

But this time guests were treated to the bonus of director Shane Meadows and Wollaton's Vicky McClure taking part, as well as Kasabian guitarist Serge Pizzorno, who was in the audience. It was an informal Q&A session and the question on most people's lips was: will we see a further instalment of This Is England? Meadows confirmed that he planned to make a This Is England 1990. He amusingly explained how the idea for the follow-up TV series came about when he was joking with the Channel 4 producers about the idea; only to find six weeks later that they had implemented the budget and were ready to film.

Meadows also explained how the idea for the film began, as homage to the influence of Martin Scorsese and his 1973 film Mean Streets. Meadows was fond of the realist aspects of film-making and described how he frequently saw what happened around him from his bedroom window. This would later spur him to write the events shaping the tumultuous lives of the characters in the 2006 film This Is England and the TV series This Is England '86 and '88.

The director told how he was bullied at school, but saw something in the skinhead culture that attracted him and gave him a sense of belonging. He explained how he soon realised the skinhead rhetoric was mostly nonsense but, when poverty was high, scapegoating other cultures was the norm.

Amongst the most vocal of the cast was Grimsby-born Thomas Turgoose (Shaun) who Meadows said he chose because he saw attributes of himself growing up in the young actor.

The conversation had some serious moments, especially with McClure going into detail about the long rehearsal process and mental preparation for her numerous dark scenes. She explained that it was all made easier because the cast were so supportive of each other and trusted Meadows with their lives. What was obvious and endearing to see was the special bond between the cast. What was more poignant was the mutual respect the actors have for director Meadows.

Stephen Graham (Combo), who participated in a lot of banter with the crowd, said working with Meadows is different from any other director as he would always learn something new, and likened it to going back to school again and being on summer holiday.

A great part of the show was the personal insights into behind- the-scenes filming, where Andrew Shim (Milky) and Turgoose revealed that they nearly got kicked out of their flats when filming and would throw wild parties, often to Meadows' disapproval. The session was paused for a live auction in which the public could bid for the chance to appear in a scene in the next series. The highest bid was Pounds 1,100 - which will go to Macmillan Cancer Trust.

The stars also stayed behind to mingle. All in all, it was a superb night of behind-the-scenes gossip, laughter and an insight into the filming methods of one of the most respected directors in modern British cinema.

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