If you're a teenager, especially living in London, you've probably heard of Youngers, an E4 comedy drama which follows a group of teenagers from South London who want to become the next big thing in the music industry as well as negotiating their way through teenage life.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of the new series and it was great to see so many people from the area the show represents, laughing along and enjoying the show - a sign that the show is not forced, stereotypical or insulting, a real testament to the writing, performances and all involved. It's no wonder really that after a successful first series, which saw 450,000 people tune in to the first episode on E4, Youngers which is written by Levi David Addai, is back for a second series which continues to tell the story of Jay, Yemi and Davina who live in Peckham.
Just in case you didn't catch the first series, here's a bit of a recap. Jay (Calvin Demba, Hollyoaks) is an MC and very much lives for the moment and as a consequence can often land himself in trouble. Yemi (Ade Oyefeso, Misfits) comes from a very strict Nigerian household, and his parents would like to see him become a doctor or a lawyer, but he'd much rather be a music producer. Series one begins with them finding out their GCSE results - Yemi got straight A's and Jay got nowhere near that. But not letting that get him down too much, Jay picks up a leaflet for a local music competition which he believes could really be his big break into the urban music industry.
To cut a long story short, Jay and Yemi together with Davina (Shavani Seth, My Murder) form a group known as the 'Youngers', and the rest of the series follows their attempt to make it big in the urban music industry. And as the series goes on, the group steadily climb their way to the top of the music charts, but with success comes problems, and one thing leads to another, including a relationship between Jay and Davina, and slowly the group begin to fade away. So there you have it, there's series one in a nutshell.
So what can we expect from series two? Well... having now disbanded, the three Youngers no longer talk to one another but one thing has remained the same - their love for music. In the first episode we see Jay working with a new producer on his first solo track, whilst Yemi struggles as the leader of his youth church choir and looks less than happy when performing outside on the street.
Then there's Davina, who is hell bent on securing that record deal and having a successful singing career although when the group's ex-manager is sat behind the desk at her first audition it's looking unlikely that she'll be signed.
Strapped for cash, Davina takes a job at the local gym, which proves to be the final straw, so when in episode two Jay and Yemi speak to her about getting the band get back together the timing could not have been more perfect. The decision to regroup wasn't one taken lightly and Yemi refuses to let Davina come between the band again. Also returning for series two are popular You Tubers The Mandem, from 'Mandem on the Wall'.
Recently, I was at BAFTA to watch Lenny Henry OBE give the annual TV Lecture, in which he focussed on the lack of BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) representation on television today. Whilst the numbers and statistics Lenny pulled were shocking, I can't help but think he shoold've looked further than just BBC One and ITV and as he would've come across Youngers, whose cast are in the main, from a BAME background. The characters themselves also don't fall into the traditional stereotype of council estate - yes the characters may live on a council estate but their stories are entirely to do with love, friendship and music and not once is there a suggestion of drugs or gang culture.
Not only does Youngers answer Lenny Henry's wishes of seeing more BAME representation on television, but also it's refreshing to see a non-sterotypical portrayal of young people growing up in South London who instead of wanting to join a gang want to enter the music industry. I'm not saying Youngers is the answer to Lenny Henry's dreams, but it certainly feels like a start, and if E4 can do it, then I'm sure others can follow suit fairly sharpish... or we could just sit and wait for series three.
Overall I really enjoyed Youngers, and whether you're young or old, this show will either give you an insight into some of the young people around you, or allow you to recognise yourself or one of your friends. There's also the fact that Youngers is very funny and if the doom and gloom of the soaps aren't quite what you were after at 7:30pm in the evening then Youngers may just be the light relief you were looking for.
I've now seen the first two episodes in the new series and I can't wait to see the rest. Will the group stick together? Will old feuds begin to eat away at them again? Is success back on the cards for the Youngers? Only time will tell, but I for one will be sticking with the rest of this series and hope there'll be another. It feels like Levi David Addai has created something great here, and it'd be a shame to let it go to waste.