Channel 4's Christmas concern for This is England 88
8 May 2019 - 1:00 PM

Channel 4's Christmas concern for This is England 88

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Channel 4 bosses nearly didn't put "This is England 88" out over the 2011 festive period after Shane Meadows and Jack Thorne co-wrote "the darkest Christmas special anyone has ever written".

Jack - who is also known for writing stage play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" - expected him and Shane would be penning a "joyous" special, which grew into a three-part series that aired from December 13-15 2011, but he enjoyed what they came up with even if the channel had reservations.

He said: "I remember, when we were doing "This is England 86" and Shane said, "I want to do a Christmas special next," and I was so expecting the Christmas special would be this slightly joyous experience where we spend time with the Woodfords and that kind of stuff, and we literally wrote the darkest Christmas special anyone has ever written.

"I remember Channel 4 going, "Well, I don't know if we can put it on exactly over Christmas..." I love that we can do that."

While Jack believes the script for "This is England 88" was the "best" script he has ever been a part of, he admits it didn't end up on screen exactly as written, and says there is an "awful lot of improvisation" in his and Shane's work.

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He said: "Our job is to make the scripts as real as possible so Shane knows he's got a story he wants to tell.

"So, we perfect them, always. Then Shane takes those scripts and he makes the magic. He's not a director that'll turn back to the page and go, "Oh, what's this comma doing here?"

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"He's always: If it feels real in the moment, he's happy. He's got the script in his hand and the actors, to varying degrees, have got the scripts in their heads.

"They take the scripts and they do their magic with it. Honestly I think the script for "This is England 88", probably the best I've ever been part of, but it didn't end up on screen the way we'd written it."

The pair have teamed up again to write forthcoming Channel 4 drama "The Virtues", and Jack admits he always "drops everything" when Shane comes calling.

When asked what attracted him to the project - which features "This is England" star Stephen Graham as recovering alcoholic Joe who has stopped drinking, but lost his family in the process - Jack replied: "Shane Meadows.

"Shane wanted to tell this story and when Shane calls I drop everything. Always."

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