Skins (TV series)

Skins (TV series)
Genre Teen drama
Created by Bryan Elsley
Jamie Brittain

Ensemble cast, replaced biennially

Dakota Blue Richards
Alex Arnold
Freya Mavor
Laya Lewis
Sean Teale
Will Merrick
Jessica Sula
Sebastian De Souza
Theme music composer Segal
Country of origin United Kingdom
Language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 45 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Bryan Elsley
Charles Pattinson
George Faber
John Griffin[1]
Producer(s) Chris Clough
Matt Stevens
Location(s) Bristol, England, UK
Camera setup Single camera
Running time 44-48 minutes
Production company(s) Company Pictures
Original channel E4
Picture format HDTV 1080i
Audio format Surround
Original run 25 January 2007 (2007-01-25) – present
Related shows Skins (U.S.)
External links
Production website

Skins is a BAFTA award-winning British teen drama that follows a group of teenagers in Bristol, South West England, through the two years of college. The controversial plot line explores issues such as dysfunctional families, mental illness (eating disorders for example), adolescent sexuality, substance abuse and death. The show was created by father and son television writers Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain for Company Pictures,[1] and premiered on E4 on 25 January 2007.[2]

Skins has broadcast five series, and has been commissioned up to a sixth. In the UK, the show is currently on its fifth series, which introduces a third generation of Bristolian teenagers. A Skins film, focusing on characters from the show's first four series, is also in production. The Skins brand has also been exported overseas; an American adaptation began airing on MTV in 2011, where it has been subject to significantly more controversy than the UK original despite the show becoming less racy due to MTV's corporate censorship practices. The U.S. version was later cancelled on June 9, 2011, after just 10 episodes.


Cast and characters

The show is known for its casting of amateur actors and young writers. The cast are entirely replaced every two series, when the characters leave sixth form and begin their adult lives. There are usually about eight main cast members, although the second generation had nine. Most of the central actors are relatively inexperienced, but more well-known actors, such as Nicholas Hoult, Jack O'Connell and Dakota Blue Richards have also held main roles. Additionally, the show has traditionally cast well-known British comic actors as the parents of the central cast, who appear sporadically.

First generation

Tony Stonem (Nicholas Hoult) is an attractive, intelligent and popular boy. His manipulative ways often go unnoticed by many, and are a catalyst for the majority of the events in the series. Sid Jenkins (Mike Bailey) is Tony's best friend, but has an entirely opposite personality. He lacks confidence, is socially uneasy and struggles with school work. Tony's girlfriend is Michelle Richardson (April Pearson), a girl who can never stay angry at his mischievous behaviour for long. Outwardly, Michelle appears shallow, vain and conceited but she works hard and is emotionally mature. She is friends with Cassie Ainsworth (Hannah Murray), an eccentric girl who suffers from an eating disorder. Cassie attempts to hide her own struggles with mental health while her flamboyant parents ignore her in favour of their new baby.

Chris Miles (Joe Dempsie) is the party animal of the group. He has a difficult home life; he lost his brother to a hereditary subarachnoid haemorrhage at a young age, and is living alone due to his ambivalent father and absent mother. He has a crush on his psychology teacher Angie (Siwan Morris). Jal Fazer (Larissa Wilson) is a sensible girl with a talent for playing the clarinet. Her runaway mother has left her to live with her famous musician father and aspiring rapper brothers. Maxxie Oliver (Mitch Hewer) loves to dance. Unlike most openly gay characters on British television, he is still considered "one of the lads". He is portrayed as attractive, seductive, talented, and is well accepted by his friends and peers. His best friend Anwar Kharral (Dev Patel) takes a pick-and-choose approach to Islam, and has no qualms indulging in pre-marital sex, alcohol, and drugs. He has a slightly off-the-wall personality, known for his silly antics and sense of humour. Only appearing in the second series, Lucy, better known as "Sketch" (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), is a quiet Welsh girl who is polite yet unnerving. She is a young carer for her mother Sheila, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

As well as the regular cast, there are several important recurring characters. Effy Stonem (Kaya Scodelario) is Tony's younger sister, and shares many of the same qualities as he. She is mysterious and manipulative, but almost mute, she regularly breaks the fourth wall. Abigail Stock (Georgina Moffat) is Tony Stonem's mistress, a posh school girl with sociopathic tendencies. "Posh" Kenneth (Daniel Kaluuya) goes to the same college as the main cast and often found spending time with the boys. Madison Twatter (Stephen Walters) features as Sid's emergency drug dealer, Doug (Giles Thomas) is a senior teacher at Roundview College, and British comedian and co-writer Josie Long appears as the college's careers counselor.

The central cast's parents are often played by well-known British actors credited in a guest starring role. Harry Enfield portrays Tony and Effy's father, Jim Stonem, with Morwenna Banks playing his wife Anthea Stonem. Peter Capaldi and Josie Lawrence act as Sid's parents, Mark and Liz Jenkins. Neil Morrissey and Naomi Allisstone play Cassie's parents Marcus and Margeritte. Arabella Weir acts as Michelle's mother, Anna Richardson, and Danny Dyer as her step father Malcolm. Ronnie Fazer (Mark Monero) is Jal's musician father, and Elaine (Josette Simon) her estranged mother. Mark Heap portrays Graham Miles, Chris' father, and Sarah Lancashire his stepmother Mary. Inder Manocha plays Istiak Kharral, Anwar's father, with Nina Wadia as Anwar's mother. Heidi Monsen acts as Dr. Victoria Stock, Abigail and Josh's mother. Maxxie's parents Walter and Jackie Oliver are played by Bill Bailey and Fiona Allen.

Second generation

Elizabeth "Effy" Stonem (Kaya Scodelario), Tony's younger sister, becomes the lead character for the second generation. Effy is pretty, popular, and a natural leader like her brother, but also quiet and distant, attempting to keep her own troubles hidden. Pandora Moon (Lisa Backwell) is her best friend, having appeared for the first time in a second series episode. She is innocent to the sexual and narcotic world in which Effy indulges, but is ready and willing to explore it. Thomas Tomone (Merveille Lukeba) is an immigrant from the Congo, with a morally upright outlook and good-hearted nature, and his storyline sees him become romantically involved with Pandora.

James Cook (Jack O'Connell), Freddie Mclair (Luke Pasqualino) and JJ Jones (Ollie Barbieri) have been best friends since childhood. Though Cook is charismatic and sociable, he is also boisterous and not afraid of authority. His womanising drives many of the events in the series. By contrast, Freddie is an easy-going skater who likes to smoke weed, and as the more sensible and responsible friend, is often put out by Cook's behaviour. Cook and Freddie are both drawn to Effy, which drives a rift in their friendship. JJ's autism makes it difficult to fit in socially, but he has learnt to use magic tricks to make friends. His friends view him kindly but with a degree of amusement, and sometimes irritation, but he knows Cook and Freddie will always take care of him. He is the kindest of the three, and by far the least worldly.

Katie (Megan Prescott) and Emily Fitch (Kathryn Prescott) are very different identical twin sisters. Katie thinks of herself as something of a WAG and wants to usurp Effy's place as queen bee of the group. Katie's homophobic attitudes cause problems between them, as Emily comes to terms with her lesbianism. The quieter of the two, Emily is used to being in her sister's shadows. She is sulky but perceptive. She is in love with Naomi Campbell (Lily Loveless), a fiery, politically-charged and passionate young woman with idealistic views and an abundance of ambition. Emily also develops a good friendship with JJ, becoming close confidantes to one another.

Other characters include Karen McClair (Klariza Clayton), Freddie's sister who is desperate to become famous.[3] Mackenzie Crook guest stars as Johnny White, a psychotic Bristol gangster with comedians Jordan Long and Justin Edwards as his inept henchmen.[4] Ardal O'Hanlon is the gang's careless Northern Irish college tutor, Kieran MacFoeinaiugh (pronounced Mac-Phew). As with the first generation, the central cast's parents are played by established British comedic actors. Harry Enfield and Morwenna Banks return as Effy's parents, with Banks' real life partner David Baddiel appearing as her fictional husband's work colleague. Sally Phillips is introduced as Pandora's mother Angela, and Maureen Lipman as her Aunt Elizabeth. Other parents include Cook's father (Matt King) and mother (Tanya Franks), JJ's mother (Juliet Cowan) and father (Douglas Hodge), Freddie's dad (Simon Day) and grandfather Norman (Dudley Sutton), Naomi's mother (Olivia Colman), and Katie and Emily's parents played by impressionist Ronni Ancona and stand-up comedian John Bishop. Guest stars for the series include Georgia Henshaw, who appears as Lara, JJ's new girlfriend,[5] and singer Will Young who plays a school counsellor.[6] Chris Addison appears as Roundview College's new "Cameronian" headmaster, David Blood.[7] Pauline Quirke recurs as the detective who investigates Sophia's suicide.[8]

Third generation

Franky Fitzgerald (Dakota Blue Richards) is seen as an outsider, having arrived to her first year at Roundview three weeks late upon moving to Bristol from Oxford. She is an intelligent and creative girl, but is seen by others as strange, largely due to her androgynous dress sense. Aloysius "Alo" Creevey (Will Merrick), something of an optimist, loves his dog and his van foremost. He is best friends with Rich Hardbeck (Alexander Arnold), a boy from a very middle-class home who immerses himself in heavy metal subculture. He uses musical elitism as a means to cover up his own shyness around, among other things, girls.

Mini McGuinness (Freya Mavor), Liv Malone (Laya Lewis), Grace Violet (Jessica Sula) are best friends. By the time Franky arrives, image-conscious Mini has already established herself as Roundview's new "queen bee". She obscures her own insecurities (such as her body image, or her virginity), and is cruel to Franky and others. Of her two friends, Liv is the most devoted to Mini, and is the more worldly and sexually voracious. By contrast, Grace—sweet, kind, and positive in her outlook—begins to disassociate herself from Mini after seeing Franky's example, and in the first episode establishes a friendship with outsiders Franky, Alo, and Rich. Mini's boyfriend is Nick Levan (Sean Teale). His popularity makes him something of a status symbol for Mini, but his feelings for her are shallow and uncomplicated. His brother Matty (Sebastian De Souza) has strained relationships with his family, engages in criminal behavior, and lives rough following an altercation with their father.

Giles Thomas returns as Roundview's deputy headmaster, Doug (making him the only character to appear in all five series), as does comedian Chris Addison for a second year as headmaster David Blood. Gordon Kennedy plays English teacher Alan Precopp, and Alistair McGowan plays Coach Pooter, Nick's South African rugby coach. Franky's gay adoptive parents are played by Gareth Farr and John Sessions.


Series 1

Episode one, "Tony", is an ensemble piece that introduces the characters and the format. We meet the effortlessly attractive, popular and intelligent Tony as he arranges for his friends to attend a party held by posh girl Abigail Stock (Georgina Moffat). The second episode, "Cassie", focuses on Cassie's final visit to an eating disorder clinic under the supervision of Abigail's mother Dr Stock. In her day-to-day life, she hallucinates messages instructing her to eat which seem to come from Sid. Jal's episode follows her attempt to win BBC Young Musician of the Year, and her strained relationship with her famous musician father. When a drug dealer 'Mad Twatter' smashes her clarinet as pay back for Sid not giving him money for drugs he bought, Jal's father sees to it he will not bother the gang again. In "Chris", Chris' mother abandons him, leaving £1,000 in cash. He blows the money on a party, and is eventually helped into temporary student accommodation by his psychology teacher, Angie (Siwan Morris). Episode five, "Sid", shows Sid's struggle with his parents' breakup while Tony organises a scheme to set him up with Michelle. A heartbroken and fragile Cassie attempts suicide by drug overdose.

"Maxxie and Anwar" focuses on the conflict between Anwar's Muslim faith and Maxxie's homosexuality. On a school trip to Russia, which Cassie does not attend as she is still in hospital, Michelle sees Tony trying to seduce Maxxie, because he wants to 'try something new'. In "Michelle", Michelle faces up to Tony's manipulative and cheating ways. She begins to date Josh Stock (Abigail's brother, played by Ben Lloyd-Hughes) until Tony breaks them up by sending naked photos of Abigail from Josh's phone. In "Effy", Josh seeks revenge on Tony and his younger sister Effy, by drugging her and effectively taking her for ransom. In the finale episode, it is Anwar's birthday. Anwar and Maxxie are reconciled when Anwar's father welcomes Maxxie. Chris's relationship with Angie ends violently when her fiancé returns. Tony confesses to Michelle that he loves her and wants to change his manipulative ways (whilst on the phone), only to be hit by a bus, as Effy watches on from Sid's dads car. The characters begin to sing "Wild World" by Cat Stevens as Tony lies unconscious and Sid searches for Cassie.

Series 2

The second series premiered on E4 on 11 February 2008, however the first episode was available in four parts to MySpace users prior to airing. The series aired on Monday nights, making it the only series so far not to broadcast on Thursdays. "Maxxie and Tony" starts the series, showcasing Tony's impairments following his accident and Maxxie's involvement to his recovery. The episode also reveals more about Maxxie's life; we learn of his ambitions to be a dancer, his surname, his difficulties with homophobic bullies, and encounter his parents (played by Bill Bailey and Fiona Allen). The second episode introduces a new character in Maxxie's stalker, young carer Lucy, also known as "Sketch". Sketch disrupts the school play organized by drama lecturer Bruce (Shane Richie) in order to steal a kiss from Maxxie. To spite Maxxie, Sketch begins a sexual relationship with Anwar. Episode three focuses on Sid's life, coping with Cassie's departure to Scotland, and he suspects her of cheating. When his Scottish relatives visit, his father is driven to despair, drinking and smoking himself to death unintentionally. Sid reconnects with brain-damaged Tony when he is able to open up to him about the incident. For "Michelle", the group go on a camping trip to Michelle's father's home in Wales. Maxxie discovers Sketch having sex with Anwar, and Sid sleeps with Michelle, starting a relationship; he comes home to find Cassie waiting for him. In "Chris", Chris agrees to start a job and Jal learns to start being more open to new things, and the two end up in a relationship. Although Chris cheats on her with Angie, they move back in together, and Jal discovers she is pregnant.

"Tony", directed by recurring actor Harry Enfield, sees Tony Stonem attend a university open day not long after taking an ecstasy tablet that awakens elements of his old personality. In a visual metaphor for Jungian psychology, a mysterious girl who is a projection of Tony's subconscious helps him conquer his mental impairments. His old self again, he confronts Michelle and Sid and tells them their relationship is "wrong". With the Stonem parents unable to run the house, Effy takes over in episode seven. She starts a new private school and befriends weird girl Pandora Moon (Lisa Backwell), and resolves to solve her brother's and his friends' relationship problems. Cassie is hurting and turning to promiscuity, but through Effy's machinations, she and Sid get back together, as do Tony and Michelle. Actor Daniel Kaluuya wrote "Jal", which sees her struggle with her pregnancy, while Chris is rushed to hospital with a blood clot in his brain. Meanwhile, Maxxie introduces his new boyfriend, James (Sean Verey). In "Cassie", Jal tells Chris she is having an abortion. Cassie feels without her eating disorder and other problems, she is disempowered; she is traumatised when Chris dies in her arms of a subarachnoid haemorrhage and flees to New York City. In the series finale, the gang get their A Level results, attend Chris's funeral and part ways, with Sid following Cassie to New York, Anwar moving with Maxxie and James to London, and Sketch left behind. The series ends with Effy in Tony's bed, reveling in the art work of emotions she has created as she claims her top place in their social world, and also as series' lead in the upcoming series.

Series 3

We are introduced to the new cast on their first day at Roundview College in the series premiere, "Everyone". JJ Jones, James Cook and Freddie McClair are best friends to begin with; twins Katie and Emily Fitch know Naomi Campbell from school but are distant with her because Katie is homophobic and suspects her of being a lesbian. The gang meet Effy, and sidekick Pandora; Katie wants to become Effy's best friend, and both Cook and Freddie are instantly smitten. Cook passes the test set by Effy and begins a casual sex relationship with her. Episode two focuses on Cook who invites the whole group over, but their friendships are not very strong yet; chaos ensues, and Cook angers local gangster Johnny White (Mackenzie Crook). Thomas Tomone is only introduced in the third episode. He is an immigrant from the Congo, and develops a crush on Pandora. He endears himself to the group when he is able to get Johnny White off their backs by besting him in a pepper-eating competition. However, despairing at his decadent life in Bristol, Mrs Tomone brings Thomas back to the Congo. In "Pandora", Pandora's innocent slumber party becomes an MDMA-fuelled rave after Katie spikes the brownies. Emily and Naomi kiss; Naomi denies being gay, but urges Emily to admit that she is, who also denies it. Pandora allows Cook to take her virginity, but regrets it when later Thomas returns from Congo.

Freddie's episode shows his difficult relationship with his widower father (Simon Day) and his sister Karen (Klariza Clayton), who has ambitions to be a celebrity. His father converts Freddie's shed—his personal sanctuary—into a dance studio for Karen. He witnesses Effy's parents' breakup, discovers that Cook slept with his sister, gets punched in the face by his father, and when he goes to tell Effy how he feels about her discovers she is with Cook. In "Naomi", Naomi runs against Cook for student president on the basis that if he wins she will have to sleep with him; when he wins however, he does not force her to take it further than kissing. She and Emily begin a sexual relationship, but Naomi is unwilling to accept the reality of its romantic nature. In "JJ", Freddie and Cook's feud over Effy negatively affects JJ. At Emily's encouragement, he manages to confront them both about it, and later loses his virginity when Emily decides to have pity sex with him. Thomas discovers that Pandora has been cheating on him, and while high on JJ's medication, Cook reveals to Freddie that Effy loves Freddie and not him. In Effy's episode, she has nothing: her Queen Bee status has been usurped by Katie, sex with Cook means nothing, and her home life is a wreck. She finally feels something when she has sex with Freddie, but after being tormented by Katie, an intoxicated Effy hits her with a rock. Katie is recovering in "Katie and Emily" but her relationship with her sister is falling apart. However, at the college ball, Emily is able to assert herself and Naomi confesses she loves Emily back. Thomas and Pandora also reunite. The finale, also an "Everyone" episode, sees Cook and Effy hiding out with Cook's father (Matt King). JJ tracks them down however, and forces Effy to confess it is Freddie that she loves, but Cook is adamant he loves her too. Freddie closes the series, asking "What do we do now?".

Series 4

Series four begins with the suicide of a girl named Sophia (Amberley Gridley) while she is high on MDMA at a club Thomas works at. A police inspector (Pauline Quirke) questions the entire gang, and Thomas is expelled by the new headmaster (Chris Addison) for his unseemly connection to the incident. Thomas gives into temptation and sleeps with another girl, resulting in the breakup of him and Pandora. In "Emily", Emily's mother (Ronni Ancona) warns her to take her relationship more slowly and cautiously. Emily discovers Naomi had slept with Sophia and is the one who sold her the MDMA, leaving their relationship fraught. In "Cook", Cook is in trouble for an assault and, to be a better influence on his younger brother, accepts a prison sentence for dealing the drugs that led to Sophia's death, covering for Naomi. When Katie loses her job and discovers she has premature menopause, she cannot confide in her mother at first because of the stress of their bankruptcy and homelessness; the Fitches are forced to move into Naomi's house.

Freddie worries over Effy's psychological state in his centric episode, as she is developing a psychotic depression that resembles what his mother had before she committed suicide. He is able to save Effy after an attempt on her life; she is hospitalised and he is left desolate. JJ's episode sees him fall in love with a single mother called Lara (Georgia Henshaw), through whom he finds a new-found confidence and begins to doubt whether he really needed to be so highly medicated his whole life. In the penultimate episode, Effy's psychiatric counsellor Dr. John Foster (Hugo Speer) uses unorthodox hypnotic methods to cure Effy's depression, making her forget and want to abandon her old friends. After an incident at the spot of Tony's accident where she nearly commits suicide again, her psychosis comes back and Freddie insists Dr Foster cease treating Effy. Later, Foster lures Freddie to discuss Effy and murders him. The finale episode, everyone deals with Freddie's absence, thinking that he has left of his own volition. Naomi and Emily finally repair their damaged relationship, scorched by cheating, and Naomi confesses she loved Emily since they first met; Thomas and Pandora are thrown back together by chance when they both get into Harvard University; a mostly-recovered Effy holds Freddie's birthday party in his shed, knowing that he loved her and pining for his return. Cook, who is on the run from the police after breaking out of prison, uncovers Dr Foster's killing and after confronting him, furiously lunges at Foster. The series ends here in freeze-frame leaving both Cook's and John Foster's fates unknown.

Series 5

The series begins by introducing unconventional newcomer Franky, to whom secretly insecure popular girl Mini takes a dislike; Mini ingratiates Franky into her group only to disown her. Franky is on the verge of breakdown, her adoptive father's gun in hand, when mysterious stranger Matty convinces her of her self-worth. Mini's sweet friend Grace establishes new friendships with Franky and the school's other outsiders, metalhead Rich and farmhand Alo. Grace finds herself drawn to Rich; she attempts to help him win over an elusive girl, and eventually he gets past his shyness to realise his attraction to her too. After Mini's fashion show, the two agree to begin dating. Mini, however, feels pressured to have sex with boyfriend Nick, who does not know she is a virgin. Mini's cruelty to Grace and her new friends backfires when her fashion show goes completely awry. When she realises that her best friend Liv has slept with Nick, she forces herself to have sex with him, which is disappointing. She is devastated to see the parallel between her and her promiscuous mother (Clare Grogan) as they encounter one another on their walks of shame. The affair between Nick and Liv continues, though they both suspect Mini knows when she unifies the two groups of friends under Liv's roof for a party. Because Liv cannot handle the stress of her family life or Mini's scheme, she goes out. In town, she meets drifter Matty, and the two embark on a drug-fuelled bender. Back at her house, she discovers that Matty is in fact Nick's brother, and Liv's affair with Nick comes out in the open. The brothers reconcile, however, and Matty comes home again.

Matty is re-enlisted at Roundview, but his relationship with Liv causes a new love triangle to form, between him, Liv and Franky. Having lost both Mini and Liv, and now living in Matty's shadow, Nick has a nervous breakdown and smashes up his house with a golf club. Through Matty, however, Nick comes to see his father Leon (Dorian Lough) and his parenting in a more negative light and the two brothers take a stand. Alo's parents take him out of sixth form to work on the farm, and after he causes an explosion they sell all of his belongings. In protest, he throws a massive party and when he confronts his parents, his father suffers a heart attack. Rather than burden his friend Rich, who has just proudly had sex for the first time with Grace, he goes home and attempts to repair things with his parents. Grace later introduces Rich to her parents, and he is shocked to discover that her father is headmaster David Blood (Addison). Blood schemes to have Grace's grades slip on her drama assessment, a staging of Twelfth Night, so that he can justify removing her from Roundview. Grace sees her dilemma, as peacemaker, through Hamlet's sea of troubles soliloquy; she uses Twelfth Night to bring the love triangle between Matty, Liv and Franky to a head, and ultimately receives an A. After Blood still forces Grace to change schools, Rich is inspired by Romeo and Juliet and proposes to her. In the series finale, the two attempt to marry in secret with the gang as witnesses, though Alo's van breaks down. Mini begins to recognise her attraction to Franky, and becomes very protective of her. After an attempt at sex with Matty, Franky has a panic attack, charges through a forest, and accidentally falls over a ledge. After being rescued by Mini, Matty and Liv, Franky reveals more to her friends about her insecurities. Though Blood intervenes and Grace and Rich do not marry, they are happily allowed to continue dating and the gang, solidified as friends, party together at a local fête.

Series 6

The 10 episode series will shoot in Bristol from July to December to transmit early 2012 on E4.[9]

American adaptation

Although the show airs in the United States on BBC America albeit in an edited form (strong language bleeped out and some more graphic scenes of violence and sex cut out), MTV announced that they would be adapting the British teen drama into an American version set in Baltimore, Maryland.[10] With Brian Elsley as Executive Producer,[10] the series began filming in February 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The first episode of the US series mirrors the first episode of the UK series, although it deviates from the original plot in following episodes. The characters are also the same, although some names have been changed; Sid has been renamed Stanley, Cassie renamed Cadie and Jal renamed Daisy. However the biggest change comes in the form of Tea, a lesbian cheerleader who replaces the UK gay character Maxxie.[11]

The show's cancellation was announced by MTV on June 10, 2011. The Parents Television Council (PTC), an advocacy group, slammed the show as one of the worst TV show a child could watch.[12] Reasons cited for its cancellation include loss of advertising sponsors and a shrinking audience, with fewer people tuning in for each subsequent episode.



The show's writing team has an average age of 21, and includes several "teenage consultants". The series co-producer Bryan Elsley said, "It's all about the writing. [...] We're about letting our audience feel they are not alone. [...] We're always having people miss [writing] meetings because they've got A-levels or even GCSEs".[13]

In January 2011, Brittain announced a writing competition open to the public to help with the developing and writing of Series 6. According to Brittain, the winner will receive "a four month placement in the Skins writers' room, where you'd be invited to attend at least 10 of our top secret meetings, working with [Brittain] and the other Skins writers," as well as monetary compensation.[14] The winners of the 2011 competition were Sophie Boyce (18) and Joe Hampson (21). The winner of the 2008 competition, Dan Lovett, went on to become an official member of the Skins writing team.[14]


Filming scene from "Pandora" at the Bristol Harbour.

The show is filmed almost entirely in Bristol; scenes at Roundview College were shot at Henbury School for series four, having formerly been set at the John Cabot Academy and Filton College's WISE Campus.[15] and multiple scenes are located around College Green.[16] Special locations for individual episodes have included the Gower Peninsula, Sharpness Docks, the University of Exeter and New York City. The series was shot entirely in High Definition, using Sony HDW-750P cameras for the first two series, and Sony HDW-F900R thereafter, both supplied by Panavision.[17] It was edited at BBC Studios and Post Production in Bristol, using Autodesk Lustre and Autodesk Smoke.[18] "The trip to Russia" episode was actually shot in Lithuania, near the capital Vilnius. This episode was shot in cooperation with Lithuanian Film Studios and professional Lithuanian actors.

It was announced in April 2008 that all of the original cast (except Kaya Scodelario and Lisa Backwell) will be replaced for series 3.[19] Creator Bryan Elsley said: "There are risks associated with dumping a cast, but we just did it. There was some disquiet at the channel, but then they told us just to go with it." Speaking at Broadcast's television drama conference, he also confirmed the show would stick to its pattern of introducing college-age characters, moving them on in the next series, then letting them go. "The first year is about getting to know the kids, and the second gives us the advantage of being able to explore their psyches a little more," said Elsley. Creator Jamie Brittain said that the new cast would be quite different from the original characters, although people may still spot some similarities. Open auditions for the second generation of cast members were held in Bristol, which attracted 1,500 16- to 18-year-olds, followed by a further two days of auditions in London.[20]

Online content

A variety of videos have been released on the Skins website, including character profiles, and "Unseen Skins" mini-episodes that interweave with every aired episode.[21] In addition to character profiles on the official E4 website, accounts for the lead Skins characters are maintained on popular social networking website MySpace. Each series is launched on MySpace, with previews of the first episodes a few days before they are aired on television.[22] There is also an official Skins Internet bot for Windows Live Messenger, which allows users to receive automated messages throughout the airing of each episode with music credits, trivia, and behind-the-scenes gossip.[23]


Critical reception

The first series received positive reviews, although some critics complained that the series depicts teenagers unrealistically and stereotypically.[24] Others criticised the excessive promotion of the show (specifically in the UK) and having relatively mediocre writing in comparison to other similarly themed shows. Actor Nicholas Hoult defended the extreme storylines, saying they would not reflect "everyone's teenage life", adding "it is maybe heightened for entertainment but all of it is believable."[25]

Marieke Hardy expressed admiration of the show, and particularly enjoyed the fact that the show was "beautiful and sad and poignant and perfectly hurtful", while also managing to give impression of being drama that is "edgy, funny and rude".[26] However, she did state that she was unsure whether the show was meant for teenagers or not.[27] Stewart Lee has remarked during an interview on the BBC4 programme Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe that he feels lucky for having been a teenager watching TV for teenagers in the 1970s and not the 2000s as "there was something really comforting for nerds and weirdos about programmes like Children of the Stones and The Changes." He said that watching Skins as a teenager today would make him feel lonelier than he already would have been.[28] However, Brooker himself gave the programme a positive review in his Guardian column "Screen Burn", and specifically stated that "the series had wrong-footed me", comparing his initial expectation of Skins as a shallow show to after he had finished watching the series.[29]

In his book Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale, Russell T Davies and his co-author, Benjamin Cook, discuss Skins at length, with Davies praising the show's innovation in a genre that was fast becoming tired and out of date. They are critical of some elements of the first series, such as the believability of Tony's character, or episode 6 which is described as "Carry On Russia", but give high praise to the second series as a whole, highlighting the death of Sid's dad as a superb moment, and calling the finale "perfect". Davies, creator of the award-winning Queer as Folk, also praised the handling of the show's homosexuality-related storylines, saying that he knew a boy very like Maxxie in the 80s.[30] The Age called it a "refreshing, entertaining and worthy series" and wrote it was "compulsory viewing for parents of teenagers as much as for teens."[31] Similarly, the "Naomily" storyline of Series 3 and 4 proved popular with lesbian viewers; a poll conducted by American gay women's' media website ranked Naomi and Emily as the top two fictional lesbian and bisexual characters.[32]


The show won the Best Drama prize at the 2008 Rose d'Or ceremony,[33] and also won the Best Production Design (Drama) for Amelia Shankland's work on "Cassie", at the Royal Television Society Awards 2007, in addition to being nominated for Best Photography (Drama). Tal Rosner's graphics for Skins won a BAFTA for Best Title Sequence at the British Academy Television Craft Awards in May 2008.[34] In March 2008, the show was nominated for Best Drama Series in the British Academy Television Awards 2008.[35] The show's innovative marketing was awarded Best Advertising Campaign at the MediaGuardian Awards for Innovation in 2008.[36] The viral marketing preluding the second series won the Entertainment category at the Interactive Marketing and Advertising Awards 2008.[37] Skins won the Philips Audience Award at the BAFTAs 2009. The series Director of Photography, Nick Dance has been nominated for a BAFTA and an RTS Award for Photography and Lighting for his work on the series.[17] In 2010, Skins was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding Drama Series" during the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.[38] In 2011, the series won Best TV Show at the NME Awards 2011.[39]

Television ratings

The pilot episode of Skins averaged 1.5 million viewers.[40] The ratings for the second series which launched peaked at 884,000 viewers, which gave it 5.9% audience share and taking 60% of the 16–24 demographic, however this was still more than 500,000 viewers down on its series one premiere.[41] The series finale attracted an audience of 740,000 on E4, equating to a 4.65% share of the audience.[42] The start of the third series drew in 877,000 viewers,[43] proving popular with its key audience demographic of younger people — 56.2% of viewers were aged between 16 and 34.[44] Series 4 premiered with 1.5 million viewers across E4 and E4+1, the highest rated episode since series 1.[45][46]

Cultural influence

The programme has given rise to the term 'skins party', referring to a debauched night of heavy drinking and recreational drug use.[47] During the 2007 Easter holiday a girl in County Durham threw a house party; it was advertised on her MySpace profile as a "Skins Unofficial Party," referring to the party in the first series' trailer, with the subtitle "Let's trash the average family-sized house disco party". 200 people turned up, breaking into the house and causing over £20,000 of seemingly deliberate damage. She alleges that her account was hacked and someone else placed the ad.[48][49] Similar incidents have taken place in the Republic of Ireland, with major household damage and theft of personal property being reported in Firhouse and Foxrock. Although these attacks have not been conclusively linked to the show, news outlets have reported that they are called Skins parties.[50] Club nights marketed as 'Skins Secret Parties' have also taken shape in Leicester and Brighton.[51] Following this, a series of parties were run by Company Pictures in spring 2008.[52]

DVD releases

Series Release Dates Ep # Additional Information
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 13 January 2009 24 September 2007 20 February 2008 9 This three-disc box set includes all nine episodes from series one. Bonus features include nine unaired online-only Unseen Skins episodes, music video for Standing in the Way of Control, and extended trailers.[53] Much of the popular music used in the original broadcasts is not found on this DVD due to the high cost of licensing.[54] Of particular note to R1 audiences is that the cast ensemble performance of "Wild World" that appeared at the end of the series is completely missing from the release.
2 14 April 2009 5 May 2008 20 August 2008 10 This three-disc box set includes all ten episodes from series two. Bonus features include the six accompanying Unseen Skins episodes, interviews with cast and crew, and short behind the scenes documentaries.[55] Much of the popular music used in the original broadcasts is not found on this DVD due to the high cost of licensing.[54]
3 7 September 2010 6 April 2009 9 September 2009 10 This three-disc box set includes all ten episodes from series three. Bonus features include four editions of Unseen Skins, ten character video diaries, and behind the scenes featurettes from the episodes, trailers and auditions. Much of the popular music used in the original broadcasts is not found on this DVD due to the high cost of licensing.[56]
4 11 January 2011 22 March 2010 18 August 2010 8 This three-disc box set includes all eight episodes from series four. Bonus features include: Bonus Skins stories, Animated feature, Behind the scenes videos, and Commentaries with the show's writers and directors.
5 TBA 21 March 2011[57] TBA 8 This three-disc box set includes all eight episodes from series five.
1–5 TBA 21 March 2011[58] TBA 45 This box set includes all episodes from series one to five.

Other media

In May 2009, E4 confirmed that Film4 and Company Pictures were in "preliminary talks" about a movie spin-off.[59] In March 2010, Jack Thorne revealed to The Guardian that the Skins motion picture was in pre-production.

On the 31st May 2011, after many whisperings about whether the movie would go ahead or not, Kaya Scodelario announced on Twitter "I genuinely don't know anything about that, have no idea if it's even happening." Scodelario continued by saying 'I would still love to do the skins movie' and would enjoy working with the cast again.[60]

In September 2009, Company Pictures announced that the Skins brand has been licensed to Crystal Entertainment.[61] The plan is to help creator Bryan Elsley expand the brand into areas such as film, fashion and music. They described Skins as "the most authentic teen brand on TV".[61]

In January 2010, Hodder & Stoughton published Skins: The Novel (ISBN 1-4449-0004-8), a short novel by Ali Cronin that describes events taking place between series 3 and 4,[62] and in March 2011, they published Skins: v. 2: Summer Holiday (ISBN 978-1444903096), a short novel by Jess Britain which centers around the series 5 cast.[63]


  1. ^ a b "Skins 3". Company Pictures. January 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  2. ^ Johns, Ian (2007-06-07). "Spaced out with the Skins generation". The Times (London). Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  3. ^ "Karen McClair's a firecracker with big dreams of being famous". Skins. E4. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  4. ^ "The Office's Mackenzie Crook finally gets to play the tough guy". TV Land. Trinity Mirror plc. 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  5. ^ Emily Woodrow (6 December 2009). "Skins star Georgia Henshaw won't let family watch sex scenes". 
  6. ^ Dan French (11 December 2009). "Writer: 'Will Young amazing on Skins'". 
  7. ^ Mayer Nissim (18 November 2009). "Chris Addison records part in 'Skins'". 
  8. ^ Dan French (10 December 2009). "2010 TV Preview: 'Skins' series 4". 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "MTV to remake Skins for the US". Now Magazine. 25 August 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  11. ^ Pop Watch
  12. ^ . 
  13. ^ Armstrong, Stephen (11 May 2009). "Loyalty points". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  14. ^ a b "Skins writing competition 2011". E4. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  15. ^ "Bristol's real life Skins". Bristol Evening Post. 18 September 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2010. 
  16. ^ "Anwar". E4. Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  17. ^ a b Dance, Nick (24 March 2009). "Making of the C4 drama series Skins". Sony. Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  18. ^ "BBC Post Production uses Lustre and Smoke to give Channel 4 beautiful Skins". Autodesk. Retrieved 2009-10-06. [dead link]
  19. ^ Wilkes, Neil (2008-04-10). "'Skins' creator talks finale, new series". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  20. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (2008-03-28). "Skins 3: the hunt for the new Tony begins". Organ Grinder (London: The Guardian). Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  21. ^ "Unseen Skins". E4. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  22. ^ Ramsay, Fiona (2008-01-30). "Channel 4 to debut Skin's online". MediaWeek. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  23. ^ Forde, Steve (2009-02-27). "Skins on Windows Live Messenger". Channel 4. Retrieved 2009-07-03. [dead link]
  24. ^ Mangan, Lucy (2007-01-26). "Last night's TV". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  25. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (2008-01-30). "Skins series 2: The countdown begins...". Organ Grinder (London: Guardian). Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  26. ^ "Kids these days get under your skin". The Age (Melbourne). 2008-01-31. 
  27. ^ Hardy, Marieke (2008-01-31). "Kids these days get under your skin". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  28. ^ Lee, Stewart. "Stewart Lee on Skins". Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe. BBC Four. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  29. ^ Brooker, Charlie (2008-02-09). "Charlie Brooker's screen burn". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  30. ^ Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook, Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale (BBC Books, 2008), passim
  31. ^ Farrer, Gordon (2008-02-04). "Skins Review". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  32. ^ Staff (15 March 2010). "’s Top 50 Lesbian and Bisexual Characters".,0. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  33. ^ "Skins among Rose d'Or TV winners". BBC News. 7 May 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  34. ^ Krieger, Candice (2009-01-22). "Tal Rosner is awarded a Bafta for his hard graft on Skins". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  35. ^ Gibson, Owen (2008-03-19 url = "Cranford wins three Bafta nominations". The Guardian. 
  36. ^ "Skins and Radiohead win Guardian awards". The Guardian (London). 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  37. ^ "Winners 2008: Skins II". Interactive Marketing and Advertising Awards. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  38. ^ "21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards – English Language Nominees". Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  39. ^ "Shockwaves NME Awards 2011 Winners - What Do You Think?". NME. 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  40. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (2008-01-07). "Celebrity Hijack hoists E4 ratings". (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  41. ^ West, Dave (2009-02-12). "'Skins' return pulls more than 'Pulling'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  42. ^ 'Skins' finale draws 740,000 for E4. Digital Spy. 15 April 2008. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
  43. ^ "Weekly Top 10 Programmes". 2010-09-05. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  44. ^ Rogers, Jon (2009-01-23). "Skins returns with 665,000". Broadcast Now. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  45. ^ Tryhorn, Chris (2010-01-29). "TV ratings – 28 January: Skins storms back with nearly 1 million viewers". London: Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  46. ^ "Television – News – 'Skins' series four opens to 1.1 million – Digital Spy". Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  47. ^ "Britain Pushes Gossip Girl Envelope With Skins". Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  48. ^ Police arrest MySpace party girl, The Telegraph, 14 April 2007
  49. ^ House trash party girl: "I'm sorry", Sunderland Echo, 15 April 2007
  50. ^ Filthy party-crashing craze is blamed on teen TV show Skins, The Herald, 7 November 2008
  51. ^ (2010-08-02). "Leicester rock gigs – live music in Leicester". Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  52. ^ "SkinsLife – SkinsLive Tour". 
  53. ^ " "Skins" Series 1 DVD". Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  54. ^ a b Brittain, Jamie (2007-09-27). "The DVD". Skinheads. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  55. ^ " "Skins" Series 2 DVD". Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  56. ^ " "Skins" Series 3 DVD". Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (2009-05-11). "Skins: Channel 4 plans movie spin-off". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  60. ^!/kayascollywogs
  61. ^ a b Rosser, Michael (2 September 2009). "Skins going global with "Brand Beckham" exec". Broadcast Now. Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  62. ^ Cronin, Ali (7 Jan 2010). Skins: The Novel. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 1444900048. 
  63. ^ Britain, Jess (17 March 2011). Skins: v. 2: Summer Holiday. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 781444903096. 

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