There is inarguably a solid set of casting principles at work behind the scenes of E4’s flagship programming. Skins is steadily showcasing quality young talent year after year. Nicholas Hoult, The Name in Gen 1 is now in Hollywood working with Colin Firth and notaries, Mitch Hewer filled out and took a star turn in Brittania High and even mediocre buffoon Dev Patel has become an international household name. Kaya Scodelario, luminous in Gen 1, though a little misused in Gen 2, is named as a star of the future on numerous lists (as was Robert Sheehan, more on him later). Amy Ffion-Edwards (Sketch) of course is slowly building up a very solid CV as a character actress. Much of the most recent generation are yet to establish their post-Skins careers, but if we never hear from the oft-dubbed ‘luminous’ Lily Loveless or those junior acting heavyweights the Prescotts again, I shall be writing to whoever’s calling himself Prime Minister to demand an explanation. The effervescent Jack O’Connell of course already had the makings of a long and promising career even before the E4 gig, making his omission from the recent This Is England small screen outing even more inexplicable.
They’ll all be appearing in the upcoming Skins feature [:s –Sx] and have other projects in production which I’ll be looking out for. With an Inbetweeners film also in production and a Misfits flick quite likely, it seems 4 are really trying to put the boot into the BBC by not only owning the yoof demographic, but locking it in a Teflon box.
Misfits in particular is like a who’s who of the soon-to-be-great actors of our generation. When we’re middle aged there will be nostalgia shows talking about how this was where it all started and Sir Robert and Dame Lauren will laugh and say ‘Who would have thought?’ [I did!]
In the last couple of years mop headed Robert Sheehan has turned in a trio of nicely nuanced, if tonally similar, performances in the above, Coming Up’s Dip and Red Riding respectively (with Andrew Garfield no less). Already recognised as one of Ireland’s leading lights, he is yet to turn in a truly standout lead performance, but I feel there’s something of the Cillian Murphy about him. Castmate Lauren Socha received an independent BAFTA nod this year for her supporting role in Samantha Morton’s care system drama, yet again from the house of 4.
Also rapidly ascending, the Welsh-speaking, all-singing, probably dancing Iwan Rheon, already a stage star after Spring Awakening with Charlotte Wakefield off Holby City (roles taken on in the US by Lea Michelle and that uber-generic Jonathan Groff guy from Glee. Did that connection influence the decision to cast Rheon?) He too gave his time and talents to the Coming Up strand with I Don’t Care and made an amusingly deprecating cameo as the object of Simon Amstell’s affections on Grandma’s House over on the Beeb. [More on GH to come]
This Is England was heavyweight and cinematic British drama, which will be getting the Silver Lining treatment one day, but was most notable for me for the ‘a-ha moment’ when I fianlly twigged why Harvey was so familiar. (Because he’s a male clone of real-life sister Lauren Socha. Listen to them talk with your eyes closed… see?) With past classics like Sugar Rush (featuring guest appearances from half the future alumni of Waterloo Road bizarrely) cementing the careers of Olivia Hallinan and Lenora Crichlow (no one mention Material Girl) and of course new Spiderman Andrew Garfield, the 4 stable has a history of teen/youth programming filled with the cream of the British and Irish crop, but it feels like E4 is trailblazing at the moment, whatever Stuart Lee might think of it.