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This Is England is a 2006 drama film written and directed by Shane Meadows, director of films such as Dead Man's Shoes and A Room for Romeo Brass.

The film is centred on young skinheads, and is set in Englandmarker in July 1983. The film illustrates that the skinhead subculture, whose roots are associated with Jamaicanmarker culture (especially ska, rocksteady, and reggae music), eventually became adopted by white nationalist groups such as the National Front.


The film begins on a cold day in July 1983, with Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), a 12-year-old, getting in a fight at school after someone makes an offensive joke about his father who died in the Falklands War. On his way home, in an unhappy mood, Shaun runs into a group of non-racist skinheads led by Woody (Joe Gilgun), who feels sympathy for Shaun. The group eventually accepts Shaun as a member, and he develops a romance with Smell (Rosamund Hanson), an older girl who dresses in a punk/new wave style.

Combo (Stephen Graham), an older skinhead, returns to the group after serving a prison sentence. He attempts to enforce his leadership on the group and promote his white nationalist views. Combo causes the group to split in two, and Shaun decides to stay in Combo's racist group instead of leaving with the non-political skinheads led by the peaceful, affable Woody. One night, after Combo smokes cannabis that he bought from Milky (the only black skinhead from Woody's group), Combo beats Milky unconscious after manufacturing an argument. Almost killing Milky, Combo shows panic and remorse, and begs Shaun to help him get Milky to the hospital.

The film closes as Shaun throws his St George's Cross flag, a symbol of his friendship with Combo, into the sea.



Much of the film was shot in predominantly residential areas of Nottinghammarker, including St Ann'smarker, Lentonmarker and The Meadows, with one section featuring abandoned houses at the former airbase RAF Newtonmarker, just outside of Bingham, Nottinghamshiremarker. The opening fight sequence was filmed at Wilsthorpe Business and Enterprise Collegemarker, a secondary school in Derbyshiremarker. Additional scenes were filmed in Grimsbymarker, Turgoose's home town.

Turgoose was 13 at the time of filming. Turgoose had never acted before, had been banned from his school play for bad behaviour, and demanded £5 to turn up for the film's auditions. The film was dedicated to Turgoose's mother, Sharon, who died of cancer on 29 December 2005; while she never got to see the film, she saw a short preview.


The film was given an 18 certificate by the BBFC due to its racist language and incidence of violence. However, some councils such as Bristol, Camden and Westminster have chosen to overturn this, feeling the film should more widely reach its target audience of teenagers. The film was shown at various international film festivals, including Londonmarker, and special permission was granted to Meniscus for it to be shown at Grimsby's Whitgift Film Theatre.

As of 5 January 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 93% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 82 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 86 out of 100, based on 23 reviews — indicating "universal acclaim". This made it the tenth best reviewed film of the year. The film appeared on several US critics' top ten movie lists of 2007; it was third on the list by Newsweek's David Ansen, seventh on the list by ''[[The Oregonian]]'''s Marc Mohan, and ninth on the list by ''[[Los Angeles Times]]''' Kevin Crust. In Britain, director Gillies Mackinnon rated the film the best of the year and David M. Thompson, critic and film-maker, rated it third. The film was ranked fourteenth in The Guardian's list of 2007's Best Films and fifteenth in Empire's Movies of the Year.

The film won the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film at the 2007 British Academy Film Awards. It also won the Best Film category at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards, with Thomas Turgoose winning the Most Promising Newcomer award.

TV spin-off

On August 26th, 2009, Channel 4 announced that it will fund a four-part television drama entitled We Were Faces, to be written by Meadows and Jack Thorne. It is said to pick up the story of several of the characters of This Is England four years later. Of the project, Meadows has said: "When I finished This Is England, I had a wealth of material and unused ideas that I felt very keen to take further – audiences seemed to really respond to the characters we created and out of my longstanding relationship with Film4 and Channel 4 the idea for a television serial developed. Not only did I want to take the story of the gang broader and deeper, I also saw in the experiences of the young in 1986 many resonances to now – recession, lack of jobs, sense of the world at a turning point. Whereas the film told part of the story, the TV serial will tell the rest." Further details reveal the storyline will be when the 1986 World Cup was taking place in Mexicomarker, Chris de Burgh held the number one slot and 3.4 million were unemployed in Britain. As Shaun (still played by Thomas Turgoose) sits his last school exam, the realisation dawns that he will have to find his own way in the world. But friends including Woody, Lol, Smell, Gadget and Pukey are around looking for love, laughs and a job. Meadows also revealed that Combo (again played by Stephen Graham) would return, the fate of Milky would be revealed and a storyline would be based around a planned wedding between Woody and Lol that would be called off. He also said that if the four-parter proved successful, he would follow it up with another series. Elaborating further, Meadows said: "... if the first one goes well, it's going to take this gang right up to the collapse of the gang." In another interview, Meadows stated he hoped to have actor Paddy Considine, a regular collaborator, play a role. He plans for filming to begin at some point in 2010. In a promotion for Meadows' 2009 film, Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee, review magazine Total Film held a competition for a walk-on role in the series.


  1. Subcultures, pop music and politics: skinheads and "Nazi rock" in England and Germany | Journal of Social History | Find Articles at
  2. " Films made in Nottingham". (29 November 2008). Retrieved on 6 April 2009.
  3. BBC News report 12 September 2005
  4. BBC NEWS | England | Humber | Teenager Tommo lands gritty role
  5. Thomas Turgoose: the 13-year-old cheeky chappy goes from Grimsby to the big screen | YOU Magazine

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