Interview extra

Shane Meadows, This Is England '88November 28, 2011

Vicky McClure

The award-winning This Is England saga returns with a three-parter set in 1988. TV Choice catches up with its director Shane Meadows…

How did This Is England ’88 come about?
You know, the funny thing was that there was never going to be a This Is England ’88, so it’s something very different. It’s not connected to a part of history, unlike the others.The first one was about the rise of the skinhead, 86 was about the World Cup and 90 [which Shane will make next year] will be about rave culture. So this one is about something and nothing and I’ve enjoyed it all the more for that.

Is it true that you’re very tough on your actors?
Yeah. If two characters are at war, I don’t expect the actors to socialize. When I heard that Vicky McClure [pictured above] had had a chat with Joe Gilgun before their characters Lol and Woody were reunited, I packed her off to the biggest s***hole hotel! But she’s my star pupil. I have very high standards for her. I reckon she’ll be going to the Oscars while the others are making pornos!

How was growing up in 1988 in Uttoxeter?
Well there wasn’t a boom. I don’t think a boom actually existed north of Watford. If someone had a Porsche in Uttoxeter it was one of those VW ones.

Young Shaun [played by Thomas Turgoose] is based on your younger self. So, like Shaun, did you get into amateur dramatics?
Yeah, I got into drama because I met a girl at the swimming baths who told me she was doing this drama course and they couldn’t get any blokes to take part. It was 14 girls and a gay guy called Darren. I was like, ‘OK, then.’

Your films always combine tragedy and comedy. Do you feel comfortable with that mix?
It’s like real life, isn’t it? I remember in 1981 spending a brilliant day doing bombs in the swimming pool and then getting off with Sharon Wilkinson. When I got home, the street was rammed with cars and I couldn’t get into my own house. I was packed off to my Auntie’s and was in her local newsagent’s and saw a local newspaper with my dad’s face on the front. He’d been accused of child murder. In fact he found the body and somebody else was eventually convicted, but it seems I can’t get away from these odd rhythms, these highs and lows, in my life.

This Is England '88 takes place over Christmas. What are your own memories of Eighties Christmases?
I just remember Christmas being a bit s***. I remember unwrapping my presents early one year when no-one was looking and getting depressed so I drunk a bottle of Advocaat and honked up everywhere.

Ben Lawrence

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