All change again for a new Skins

editorial image
0
Have your say

It’s been blamed for everything from the proliferation of teenage house parties to the decline and fall of civilisation as we know it. But love it or loathe it, there’s no denying that Skins (E4, 10pm) has become a phenomenon – especially with younger viewers.

It’s been blamed for everything from the proliferation of teenage house parties to the decline and fall of civilisation as we know it. But love it or loathe it, there’s no denying that Skins (E4, 10pm) has become a phenomenon – especially with younger viewers.

Even as the slightly sanitized American version has just started to ruffle feathers with its launch across the Atlantic, series five of the original British concept makes its way on to E4 with the usual major overhaul of the cast.

Yes, once again the cutting edge teen drama has boldly gone where not even Grange Hill ever dared and is starting over with an entirely new cast.

The last series brought an uncertain mix of stunts and stereotypes but, based on this compulsive opening episode, series five is a marvellous return to form.

A typically arresting opening sequence introduces intense androgynous Franky, the newest girl at college.

Played by Dakota Blue Richards (the former child star best known for roles in The Golden Compass when she was 12 and Dustbin Baby, the 2008 BBC1 drama based on a Jacqueline Wilson story), her carefully constructed identity is her response to bullies and the thing that keeps attracting them.

Then again crashing a stolen motorbike into her schoolmates’ bikes, having to wear a borrowed a borrowed PE kit (complete with the singularly anachronistic Frankie Says Relax t-shirt) and having her face pushed in the mud by the leader of the Mean Girls as well as having a Facebook group set up to ridicule you, does not make for the best of first days at school for anyone.

Franky’s struggle is a familiar fable, previously told in the likes of Heathers, Mean Girls, even Glee and dozens of other high school stories, but it’s made fresh by Skins’ inimitable trademarks – fierce but tender, painfully accurate but spiked with flashes of whimsical magic and all strutting along to a rock solid soundtrack (The Strange Boys, Aeroplane, Howard Jones, Chopin and more).

When Skins gets it right it’s one of the best dramas on television, teen or otherwise.