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Thomas Turgoose in This Is England '86

Nazi nutters and gang from Grimsby are the norm in the groundbreaking new series by Shane Meadows.

This Is England grows its hair, sucks in its baby fat and, with its middle finger still pointing towards Thatcher, squeezes into the small screen with This Is England ’86. Starting off with young Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) sat in a blood-stained car with Nazi nutter Combo (Stephen Graham), it then skips forward to 1986. Shaun is a snotty teenager sitting his exams, Woody’s getting married to Lol and that big scary racist from the film with the handle-bar is now a soft cuddly giant. Though the dialogue’s less clunky than the film (maybe something to do with script wizard Jack Thorne coming on board), it’s still got that rough around the edges realism and charm that, along with its unique brand of Midlands swearing, made the film resonate with such a wide and varied audience. There’s heart-break, heart attacks and the funniest biker gang this side of Grimsby. Giddy with excitement about anything Shane Meadows is involved with, Dazed Digital managed to grab ten minutes with the cheekiest working class hero since that kid from Kes, Thomas Turgoose to chat about photography, smashing bus-stop windows and nothing at all about This Is England ’86.

DD: Hello.
Thomas Turgoose: Who’s this magazine?

DD: Dazed & Confused.
Thomas Turgoose: Right. Who’s that photographer who created it?

DD: Rankin?
Thomas Turgoose: Yeah, that’s the one. I’m studying photography, which is why I asked about it.

DD: Is that what you’d really like to get into?
Thomas Turgoose: Photography’s something I do when I’m not acting, but I’m still studying it. When I’m back in Grimsby and away from my filming, I just completely forget about it and just put everything into photography. Obviously, I’m going to give acting one hundred per cent, but I love doing photography as well. So I’m going to give photography one hundred per cent when I’m not filming away and stuff.

DD: Do you have a preference for a particular style of photography.
Thomas Turgoose: I like doing portraiture and going in the studio, a lot like Rankin. A good portrait picture is a lot more pleasing to the eye than a landscape picture of a beach.

DD: Is this acting lark getting any easier?
Thomas Turgoose: Yes it is, because I know what to expect. I put more into it now, I know I need to make an impression now, so in some ways it’s more difficult as well. It’s not pressure, it’s more like I don’t want to give myself a bad name in the film industry, so I’m always trying that extra bit more to impress people.

DD: How have you developed as an actor?
Thomas Turgoose: I’ve grown up a lot more. I don’t mess around as much on-set. I think I’ve grown up a lot since This Is England.

DD: Did Shane give you some sage advice?
Thomas Turgoose: Yes, even on Somers Town he was always giving me advice and speaking to me and telling me what I need to know, and basically, that I can’t make a knob of myself on set.

DD: Was that something you were prone to doing?
Thomas Turgoose: Yes, on This Is England I was a bit of a tyke and I was always messing about. Don’t get me wrong though, even when I’m on set-now, I think you should have a laugh, and it always is fun. But when you’ve got to work you’ve got to properly get on with it and not knob about.

DD: How did it compare working with director Tom Harper on The Scouting Book For Boys?
Thomas Turgoose: Tom was cool. Because he was young it really helped with mine and his and Holly Grainger’s relationships. We all got on really well, going to the pub and going for drives in the countryside and stuff, so it was good. He was always speaking to me. If ever I was doing something wrong that he thought could be done better, he’d always tell me.

DD: Were you ever at cubs or scouts?
Thomas Turgoose: No. I never did anything like scouts, I was never that kind of person. When I was younger I was more interested in smashing windows than learning how to build fires and stuff. I just used to stand on the street corner and abuse the locals and be a tearaway, but that’s all in the past.

DD: Was that until you started acting?
Thomas Turgoose: That’s how I got into acting. Basically I was cheeky. There was an audition in Grimsby, and I went along and just asked them for money for the audition, that’s how it all started for me.

DD: What made you go to the casting if you’d never done any acting before?
Thomas Turgoose: I don’t know, really. I just seen loads of people around and I wondered what everyone was doing and then went in and did an audition and I said to them, “I’ll do the audition if you give me some money.” They gave me a fiver for my first one, a tenner for my second one, and so on and so forth.

DD: Why did they pick you?
Thomas Turgoose: I think it was because I was cheeky. I was kind of myself and wasn’t trying to be anyone different.