It all began in 1983 when Shaun, a twelve-year-old boy, is befriended by a group of skinheads after being bullied at school. Sisters Lol (Vicky McClure) and Kelly (Chanel Cresswell) give him the haircut and he enters a new world of parties, Ben Sherman shirts, Doc Martin boots, shaven hairstyles, and, of course girls – including Smell (Rosamund Hanson). But then Lol’s former boyfriend Combo, a bitter, dangerous, racist psychotic, is released from prison.
This is England ’86 picks up the story three years later with Lol and Woody about to get married. The darker tone is set when the wedding is halted by a heartattack. The story centres on Lol who begins this series with the classic dream of wanting to marry her soul mate Woody, and ends it stuck amidst a nightmare.
This is England ’88 is darker still; Lol is living alone and struggling to cope with the twin burdens of parenthood and the memory of her abusive father and his grisly demise. Shaun is still going out with Smell but fancies a pretty classmate who is appearing alongside him in a college play.
This is England ’90 may be coming but it is unclear whether it will feature Lol; Vicky McClure recently said: ‘I cannot see her taking any more damage.’
In 2011 Vicky McClure won both the Best Female Actor RTS Award and the BAFTA for Best Leading Actress for her role as Lol in This is England ’86
Catherine Scoble was the hair & makeup designer throughout; Donald McInnes was the hair & makeup supervisor on This is England; Peta Dunstall was the chief hairdresser on This is England ’86; Los Shiavo was chief hairdresser on This is England ’88.
Vicky McClure said:
The image drastically changed me and helped me in creating my character … When I had my hair shaved and I put my costumes on, I just held my head up high and all of a sudden I was there …
[When Shane – the Director – asked me to have a skinhead haircut], it was like ‘'what’? Because when he first told me about it I thought it might be a practical joke as that’s quite typical of Shane. And I thought he’d never make me shave all my hair off, especially because out of all the cast, me and Chanel [Cresswell] – who plays my little sister in it – we’re the only two who had really long hair, like down to my backside. It was only when I sat in the chair and we were thinking of ideas that I actually said to Shane that I just want a full skinhead, just all off. Then the fringe was there and he said ‘I really like that’, with the little rat tail at the back. He said: ‘That’s it! You have to keep it like that.’ And I said ‘fine’. Then I got my costume on and it just felt right, it felt perfect for Lol.