In 2006 we were first introduced to Woody, Lol and Milky in the film This Is England.
Then in 2010 and 2011 they returned for two TV spin-offs This Is England 86 and This Is England 88.
Fast forward four years, and this month sees the third and final instalment, This Is England 90, launch on Channel 4. A few weeks ago I attended a special Channel 4 launch party for the series where the brilliant (and very funny) first episode was shown.
Before the screening I was given the opportunity to speak to the cast, who as I discovered aren’t a million miles away from their characters. Their energy was infectious, and it was clear that they really got on as a cast, resulting in some of the most entertaining interviews I’ve ever done.
In this first interview, I speak to Vicky McClure who plays Lol, Joe Gilgun who plays Woody and Andrew Shim who plays Milky. Here’s what they had to say…
So where are we then at the start of the new series?
Vicky McClure: Well I have a child with him (points at Joe) and I have a child with him (points at Andrew).
Joe Gilgun: It’s really dysfunctional, but really quite a beautiful thing. My mum and dad split up a long time ago, and our family is quite dysfunctional in a wonderful way, and I think this is very much the same. I think people will be able to relate to this fucking mess we’ve ended up with! But yeah, I think it’s lovely. Lisa and Jimmy have two yabbies, and one awesome mum, and it’s time for Woody and Lol, and Milky, to be happy.
Did you ever imagine back in 2006 when the film came out that we’d be sat here almost 10 years later talking about a third TV series spin-off?
Andrew Shim: I don’t think any of us thought we’d be doing anything like this again, any kind of follow-up to This is England. We were all just grateful that we’d done it in the first place and were happy with that.
JG: I didn’t even believe it was a film. I remember going “Yeah… Of course it is! Dickhead” but they were like “there’s going to be a red carpet” and all that shit, and they were right man. I remember finding myself on the red carpet with these dicks and it was the most incredible experience, and now here we are 10 years down the line speaking to all you media types!
You alluded to it earlier, but is this series slightly happier than the previous two?
AS: I don’t think anything that Shane will ever do is going to be massively happy. Anything Shane does will always have elements of amazing humour, and happy times, but there’s always going to be a dark day coming at some point.
VMC: The thing is, who’s taken on the humour? We all know that the likes of Gadget are always going to give you the comedy, but Lol has had a great time and I’ve had such a laugh filming it.
JG: This has been the best one. For me, I’ve enjoyed filming this one more than any of the others. It’s been fucking wonderful because I’m 31 now and I can appreciate it now.
When it started I were only 20 and I didn’t realise how lucky I was, and I knew it was getting bigger and bigger but because I was young, I thought “Yeah. It’s your birth right mate. You’ve done really well. You’ve worked hard, you deserve it.”
I had no idea how lucky all of us were.
AS: I think that’s the same with all of us. This particular one has just been the absolute most amazing experience ever. Again, like Joe was saying, with us growing up and knowing how lucky we are to do it, but also this particular one, my character doesn’t get as much of the partying and the rave scenes.
He’s not as much involved. In the beginning I was a little bit pissed off about it. I was hearing about even freaking Lol having a great time, and I’d seen the call sheet and it didn’t look right to be honest. I though surely Milky’s involved in this bit.
But what it did do was make me appreciate and really look forward to the stuff that I did have coming which was the slightly more difficult scenes to shoot.
What’s it been like going back to 1990 then? What are your memories of that era?
JG: Wicked man. I look like a fucking heroin addict. Woody has a beard, and it’s as if a disciple and a heroin addict had just run into each other as hard as possible, and somehow there’s been this afterbirth and there’s Woody.
I remember bits of it. I remember the ladies, I remember my mum having hair like Brian May and my dad still having bit of a mullet and those fucking horrible New Bals, although they’ve come back around now.
They were a shit dad shoe when I were a kid. If you had New Bals back in the day you were a figgy bastard and your mum and dad were shady and that.
They’re the shoes that are sitting on the rails now outside JJB, encouraging you to steal them. You walk past, and even though both pairs are there you just can’t.
VMC: Well we were only young, so we just go on Shane’s interpretation. So anyone can watch This Is England the film, or 86 or 88, and that year might not have been anything like that for them, so we’re just going on what it was like for Shane (Meadows).
JG: I remember my mum and dad were really angry at news, furious at politics and the way the world was going. Our generation nowadays don’t seem to give a shit, and I’m a part of that. We’d rather sit behind a TV and go “It’s fucking not fair” instead of taking to the streets and being heard.
VMC: And that’s all in there. You know those montages that Shane does, they are incredible this time.
AS: Like Vicky was saying, everyone has their own interpretations of a particular time, it doesn’t matter if it’s 1990 or the year 2000, everyone would have experienced it slightly differently, and it is down to us to interpret what Shane wants us to show.
How has Woody taken to fatherhood then? Is he a good dad?
JG: He’s ace! Of course he’s brilliant. He can’t clean the house, or do any of that shit, or dress himself, or have a shower, or shave. I think all his energy has had to go into the children and I think I’d be quite similar, in that I genuinely need reminding like a fucking infant.
I think Woody’s giving everything to these children and they are his everything.
VMC: Well he stays at home. He’s a stay at home dad. Lol goes to work now.
Is it right that you guys were kept away from each other last series to reflect the isolation of the characters?
JG: Yeah. It works. It really works.
VMC: And it shows, because we actually did see each other when we shouldn’t of, and it was accidental, but I told Shane and he wasn’t very happy and all shit kicked off.
JG: We were having a love affair mea and Vicky so I were fucking fuming! (Laughs) But we did, we accidentally bumped into each other and Vicky fell out with Shane.
VMC: We shot the end scene, the scene where Woody comes in with his zimmer frame, and because we’d already seen each other, that shot where we first meet each other didn’t have the same impact.
JG: We fucked it up. That’s the thing with Shane, you’re here to fucking work, not to socialise. We’re all friends now, that’s established, we all know that. But you are here to do a job and produce the result and that is a tried and tested method of Shane’s. It really works man.
AS: Even when you don’t think it’s going to work and you argue against it, it really does.
VMC: We had to go back and re-shoot that months later.
Now the series has come to an end for good, if indeed it has, what are you going to miss most?
VMC: This lot. But we’re stupidly tight, we talk all the time. It’s not like we’re going to lose each other, and contact’s going to go. It’s just going to be a shame that we’re not going to put on the fucking clobber and do the thing you know.
JG: The last episode was fucking stupid man. I wanted to end myself. Vicky was acting as if she’d had her kids took of her. I was like “Vicky, fucking settle down.”
It were awful though, it were really fucking sad. We’ve ended up so close, that now I just fucking hate them all. You know with family members, I love them, but I can never get rid of them!
But yeah man, we’re so close, and I don’t think it matters anymore if we shoot this or not.
This Is England 90 begins Sunday 13th September at 9pm on Channel 4