As a 25-year-old, I still tend to think of myself as reasonably fresh-faced and energetic. But turning up to the launch of Skins,season six, had the unexpected (and unwelcome) effect of making me feel extremely old.
The cast, a blur of excitable chatter, whooping and group hugs, were dressed in much the same uber-trendy get-up as you would expect. Thankfully, however, they were far more talkative than the Topshop mannequins they appeared to be imitating.
Ginger haired prankster of the Roundview College crew, Alo, is as charismatic and unpredictable off screen as he is on. Aside from virtually turning the press conference Q + A into âAn Audience with Will Merrickâ? and speaking freely about the perils of having a large penis and fair skin, he seems genuinely enthused about the upcoming series.
âIt was a really exciting episode to film. Iâm doing what I love every dayâ?, he said. âI canât think of anything more perfect to me. This series has so much dramaâ¦and I finally get a shag!â?
Alongside Will is a youthful cast, the oldest of whom, Laya Lewis, has a tender 19 years to her name, as well as the youngest producers currently working in television and 23 year old director, Jack Clough.
Joining the team during his gap year and now celebrating in his sixth year with the programme, Clough has essentially been schooled by Skins and is now shaping the series he has watched grow since day one. Talking about his latest directing experience shooting episode one âShit Happensâ? in Morocco, he said: âIt was a pretty good mixture of incredible exciting and incredibly terrifying. It was hugely ambitious and we have a hugely exciting script.
âI really wanted to nail the feeling of a joyful holiday but with the undercurrents of that darker story just seeding in. It was really exciting. â?
It is, perhaps, no surprise that the season six promises plenty of action and drama. Last seasonâs antics were criticised by many fans as âsofterâ? than the previous four series. The Guardianâs Jim Shelley went so far as to call s5, âmiddle-aged, clichÃ©d and as edgy as an Enid Blyton adventureâ?.
Back in 2007 when Skins invaded the airwaves, we saw anorexia, the plight of a teen-cum-carer and hereditary disease tackled head on. Then there were the immaculately styled cast and hazy party vibes which introduced that vital element of shabby, new-school glamour which has become synonymous with the programme and the beating heart of the Skins brand.
The wardrobe sponsored by Sir Phillip Green has endured. But series fiveâs combination of class A drug use crossed with the âhot teen topicâ? of cyber-bullying and a few school-night fumbles was apparently not enough for a discerning generation of fans who have come to expect more. According to Jessica, âthis year is differentâ? and she is hoping that the new adventures will hark back to the seriesâ early glory days.
According to Jessica, âthis year is differentâ? and she is hoping that the new adventures will hark back to the seriesâ early glory days. âI think the problem people had last year was that it was so normal that people thought it was too normal. This year is big – very big. Itâs definitely more like series one and two – which were my favourites.
âIf anything, people will probably say itâs too extreme.â?
Our sneaky press peak at episode one of the new series did not disappoint. Weâre talking mega parties in Morocco, Aloâs first proper romp, a new character (below) and a car crash which could have dire consequences for the gang.
At the other end of the high-impact, dramatic Richter scale are the relationships and storylines that fans will have been pondering since the doped-up gang danced off into the sunset at the end of last series.
Graceâs on-screen relationship with Rich (actor Alex Arnolds) and the Franky/MattyÂ saga are two things that many Skins-heads will be keen to see unfolding next series. Those star-crossed lovers who had to cross that most intimidating of boundaries, the sixth form friendship clique, provided some much needed tender relief amongst a sea of âfucked-upâ? sexual frenzy and insecure teenage angst.
But will the tribulations of a long-term relationship between two of the ânicestâ? Skins characters really inject the programme with some dynamite?
Alex Arnolds remained tight-lipped about any plot details but did let slip that, âThere are some big surprises in store. Nothing is straight forward for any of us this yearâ¦thatâs all I can say!â?.
What a tease.
If you really canât wait for the 23rd January to watch the season premiere of Skins on E4 at 10pm, you can download episode one from 4od.