10 Things You Didn't Know About... This is England
The arrival of This is England '90 on DVD this week marked the end of an era. Both as a film and a run of series depicting life on the council estates of England, writer/director Shane Meadows won the hearts of a nation with his gritty realism and black humour.
As a tribute to one of the most original and vital dramas we've produced on these shores in recent years, we dug up ten facts that you may not know about Shane Meadows and his creation...
The character 'Shaun', played by Thomas Turgoose, is based on Shane Meadows himself
Though that might be fairly obvious to some, the story is more autobiographical than you'd think and both film and series are based on his experiences growing up in the East Midlands, particularly Uttoxeter and the Sneinton area of Nottingham, where he styled himself out as a skinhead. Which brings us onto the young actor playing the character...
Turgoose demanded £5 for turning up to his audition
Thomas Turgoose had literally no acting experience whatsoever before he was cast for the film, not even the kind you get at school (he was banned from taking part in his school play for “bad behaviour”), but that didn't stop him from telling the director to he'd have to hand over a fiver if he wanted to see his acting skills. He'll go far in this business...
Joe Gilgun's first role was in Coronation street, aged 10...
Unlike many of the actors that Meadows cast for his film, Joe Gilgun, who plays Woody , did have some experience of being in television, having been a regular in ITV's long-running soap Emmerdale, but his first appearance on TV came at a tender age on the set of Coronations Street.
...and that parrot from This is England '86 was actually his
Yep, that was actually Joe Gilgun's parrot. In fact, when the parrot escape while filming in Sheffield, they had the local news and radio stations issue an appeal to try and find him, which happily somebody did. The person in question had reportedly been expecting a crew member to collect the bird, so was quite surprised when Gilgun turned up at the door himself.
Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown once had a cameo in the show, dressed as a policeman
It's a well-known fact that Shane Meadows is a massive Stone Roses fan, as well as having directed their documentary Made of Stone, but did you know that singer Ian Brown once appeared in the show? Dressed in a full police uniform, no less...
Shane Meadows once screened a film in a porn theatre...
As seedy as that might sound, it's not what you think; Meadows had his entry to a film festival refused because the didn't accept submissions on video tape, so instead Meadows tried to find a venue to screen the film on his own. With cash being tight, he settled on a local cinema that specialised in 'gentleman's entertainment', but because the venue had only 15 seats the film had to be screened several times over the course of the day while people queued outside waiting for their turn.
...and once had a job working as clown's assistant
Before his career as a director took off Meadows had a variety of jobs, some of them quite unusual. Besides assisting clowns at children's parties and events, he also used to work in the steel erection industry. That's not what you think either...
Meadows was also in a band with Paddy Considine
Considine has worked with meadows on films like Dead Man's Shoes, but the pair actually met at college in the brewing town of Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire. They formed a band called She Talks To Angels (named after a song by the Black Crowes) whose lineup also included Nick Hemming, a former member of the psych band The Telescopes and the frontman of The Leisure Society.
Lol and Milky were a couple in real life
Vicky McCure and Andrew Shim, the actors who play Lol and Milky, had at one time been a couple in real life. The pair met whilst working on one of Shane Meadows' earlier films, A Room for Romeo Brass.
Joe Gilgun had his own idea for the ending of This is England '90
The actor told the journalists at the NME: “There’s gonna be an apocalypse, that’s how we’re gonna end it. There’s gonna be an apocalyptic event where Lol massacres the entire gang with a f***ing machine gun…”
This is England '90 is out on DVD in hmv stores now, the Blu-ray arrives on Monday November 30th. Buy or pre-oder online here