Were you a fan of Shameless? If so, there’s a new Sky One comedy with your name on it.
Brassic is written by Danny Brocklehurst – creator of the aforementioned Channel 4 drama – and also actor Joe Gilgun, known for Emmerdale, This Is England and Misfits.
It centres around a group of working-class mates, led by Vinnie (played by Gilgun), who get themselves into all sorts of ridiculous situations as they try to win at life in their hometown of Hawley, in Lancashire.
“I’ll just want you to come home after a f****** nightmare day and see a depiction of the working classes that isn’t f****** miserable,” suggests Chorley-born Gilgun, 35, when asked what he hopes viewers will take away from the series.
Here, Gilgun, and a couple of his co-stars – Michelle Keegan and Damien Molony – tell us about the six-part series...
A large focus of the series is how Vinnie is constantly battling with his bipolar disorder (something Gilgun has in real life).
Having had a troubled childhood, he blew his first safe when he was seven years old, and now lives alone in a shack in the woods on the outskirts of Hawley, trying to cope with his highs and lows.
Meanwhile, Keegan, 32, plays Erin, who became a single mum to son Tyler at a young age; she is “definitely a positive role model” says the actress.
“I love the fact she’s fiercely independent and she’s very fiery. But she’s really quite emotional, and as the series progresses you see that side of her as well.”
Erin’s boyfriend is Vinnie’s best mate, Dylan – played by Molony – who wants to support Erin’s dream of succeeding in her career and giving her son opportunities she never had.
“But that involves leaving town,” notes the affable Irish star, 35 (you’ll recognise him from the likes of Ripper Street and Being Human).
“And I suppose he’s the only person in the gang who really understands Vinnie’s bipolar disorder and is really worried as to how isolated Vinnie will be if Dylan leaves. So, there’s that great tension.”
Keegan is famous for Coronation Street and drama Our Girl – the only comedy she’s done so far in her career is a small role in ITV2’s Plebs.
Asked why this felt like the right comedic role for her to take on, she says the script felt completely different to anything else she’d read before.
“There is not one character that is similar to the other,” she notes, “and I think it’s so unique in a way that there’s nothing on TV like it.”
As well as the gang’s hilariously ridiculous escapades, there are also plenty of emotional scenes – particularly when it comes to Erin trying to handle her relationship.
“She’s so in love with Dylan and she wants things to work,” explains Keegan, “but she’s got so many hurdles in the way.”
“She’s got tunnel vision – she’s going to college, she’s working, she’s trying to get money and things like that.”
Part of the reason Brassic got made is because of a friendship Gilgun struck up with Dominic West whilst shooting the film Pride.
He opened up to the The Wire actor about the “crippling anxiety” he was experiencing and was encouraged to channel it into a project (West plays Vinnie’s GP in the show).
“I finished that job and I couldn’t leave my f****** house,” recalls Gilgun unabashedly.
“I had to have the exact amount of change for the milk so that there’d be no transaction, you know?
“When I met Dom he was just like this light at the end of what was really quite a dark tunnel. He really understood me.
“I’d talk to him about my friends, and different experiences and I’d make him smile and laugh and eventually he said, ‘Look, you’re going to have to do something, you can’t just keep talking about this s***.’”
Gilgun, who’s heartwarmingly open and chatty, shares how he and Brocklehurst worked together to base their writing for Brassic “on some sort of truth”.
With a laugh, he adds: “I obviously can’t go into too much detail on what is and isn’t true, because I’d be arrested and never be given a visa again, but a lot of it is based on genuine truth, yeah. Things you see really went down.”
The antics the gang get up to is “you have to see it to believe it kind of stuff” (think stealing a Shetland pony...)
“I remember laughing out loud halfway through the script; it was something that I wanted to be part of,” Keegan says.
Brassic starts on Sky One tonight at 10pm.