Meet the skinheads & the folks

A scene from the This is England television series headed for DStv’s ITV Choice.

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BY BILLY SUTER

THREE seasons of a mini-series inspired by a 2006 British film, This is England, will be shown on DStv’s ITV Choice (channel 123) this and next month, the first season lined up to start at 8pm today, Wednesday, June 14.

Written and directed by Shane Meadows, the film was released to critical and audience acclaim.  It told of young skinheads in England in 1983, and illustrated how their subculture  – which has its roots in 1960s West Indies culture, especially ska, soul and reggae music – became adopted by the far-right, especially white nationalists and white supremacists , which led to divisions within the skinhead scene.

Flash forward to 2010 and This Is England ’86, a four-part TV drama series that continues the film’s storyline was produced –once again, written by Shane Meadows. The show starts on ITV Choice at 8pm today (June 14).

The follow up to This is England ’86, titled This is England ’88, will be shown on ITV Choice from 8pm on Wednesday, July 12, and the final chapter in the series, This is England ’90, will start at 8pm on August 2.

The series focuses on the mod revival scene rather than the skinhead subculture but, like the film, stars Thomas Turgoose as Shaun, Vicky McClure (Line of Duty) as Lol,  Joe Gilgun as Woody, Andrew Shim as Milky, Stephen Graham (Little Boy Blue) as Combo and Rosamund Hanson as Smell.

The story takes place during the 1986 Ffifa World Cup. As Shaun completes his last school exam, he realises he will have to find his way in the world. His friends, who include Woody, Lol, Smell, Gadget and Meggy, are still around, looking for love, entertainment and employment.

Says Meadows: “When I finished This Is England, I had a wealth of material and unused ideas that I felt very keen to take further – audiences seemed to really respond to the characters we created and the idea for a television serial developed.

“Not only did I want to take the story of the gang broader and deeper, I also saw, in the experiences of the young in 1986,  many references to now – recession, lack of jobs, a sense of the world at a turning point. Whereas the film told part of the story, the TV series will tell the rest.”

Also headed for ITV Choice is Meet The Parents, a new dating series hosted by Holly Willoughby, who puts the romantic futures of a group of singletons into the hands of the people who know them best: their parents.

The series starts on DStv’s channel 123 at 8pm on Saturday, June 17.

Holly Willoughby presents Meet the Parents.

In their quest to find love, nothing is off limits, as the picker looking for romance gets to ask their potential suitors’ parents anything. Mum and dad then get busy spilling the beans, on everything from their off-spring’s relationship history and grooming habits, to questionable celebrity crushes and cringe-worthy childhood stories.

Says Willoughby: “It’s different because the singleton who is looking for a potential date gets to ask a series of questions in order to pick who she’s going on a date with.

“But the questions are asked not to a potential date but to the potential date’s parents. Obviously, with this, all sorts of things can happen… it can be brilliant or it can be embarrassing, or it can go horribly wrong.”

Willoughby continues: “When we filmed the pilot there was a girl who was picking a potential date and they always get asked the final question: Why should I date your son or daughter?’

“Anyway, this mum said: ‘My son, he’s just a really lovely, genuine boy and anyone who had them in their life would be really lucky.’ And the son sat with his head in his hands going. ‘Mum, what are you doing? Nobody wants a good boy, you’ve ruined my chances!’

“But sure enough she picked him, and when I asked what swung it she said, ‘It was his mum, she said you were a really nice person’.  So you never know, sometimes people think the parents are going to embarrass them and sometimes it goes completely the other way.”

Once the picker picks his/her date, the couple go on the date straight away. The moment they get picked, they go out of the studio into a car and they’re taken to the Meet The Parents restaurant, where they have dinner. It is all filmed and the viewer gets to see everything unfold immediately.

Concludes Willoughby: “The thing with parents is they don’t mean to be embarrassing, because ultimately they really love you and they want you to find a date. None of them is going in there to stitch their kids up, just sometimes the parents think the things they say would help.”


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