This Is England ’90 swaggered back onto TV last night (Channel 4, September 13) in a haze of bongs, baggy fashions, pilfered school dinners and “sniff bangs”. Director Shane Meadows talks to Sam Rowe about the future of the game-changing series.
This Is England ’90 is airing in the midst of a ’90s nostalgia boom. Was that planned?
“I never thought about that, but there’s always been this little kismet thing with This Is England. I don’t know how, we weren’t trying to be cool.”
You were 17 in 1990, so you must have been right in the thick of the baggy boom…
“I remember people having really tight perms… then the Stone Roses hit. Musically, for my generation it was a huge movement. People were travelling the country, going to Spike Island – most of which I missed – but I was part of the ripple effect of that.”
So This Is England ’90 is about missing out on a big cultural event?
“Yeah, it bears the brunt of that in a beautiful way. It manages to find beauty in the mundane, and in the obsolete sometimes. These people in small towns, whatever they’d fallen in love with as a kid, they didn’t change. You’d have a goth, and you’d go back [years later] and they’d still be a goth. It sounds a bit sad, but it isn’t, it’s kind of beautiful.”
Did shooting the Stone Roses documentary Made Of Stone influence how you made TIE ’90?
“There’s a scene in episode three which is a single take of probably the most dramatic scene I’ve shot so far, with quite a few characters. Using 30 cameras at a gig to film The Stone Roses, I realised I don’t have to use just one camera for everything and then do the take a million times. So had I not done Made Of Stone I wouldn’t have ever come up with the concept of having 10 cameras running at one time in a council house, from the back of the room, to capture it in one go. It’s one of the most believable, real, penetrating, emotional scenes I’ve ever shot – but shot with 10 cameras, which is quite weird.”
You say there “probably” won’t be another This is England. Is this really the end?
“Hard to say. Imagine a group of mates you meet up with – it might only be every two or three years, but you hook up in your old town, in the old pub you used to go in. That’s what it’s like for us. It’s a hard thing to shut off. The only reason we would never come back again is if a story didn’t arise that was worthy or needed telling. At the moment there isn’t another series that exists in my head, but as this one has proved, you can have a couple of years on the sidelines and then things can formulate. I’ve given people an ending I’m really proud of on this one, if it does turn out to be the last one. But never say never.”
This Is England ’90 continues Sunday at 9pm on Channel 4.