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This Is England
Season 1, Episode 1
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Air date 27 April 2007
Written by Shane Meadows
Directed by Shane Meadows
Episode guide
This Is England '86 Episode 1

This Is England is a 2007 British drama film written and directed by Shane Meadows. The story centres on young skinheads in England in 1983. The film illustrates how their subculture, which has its roots in 1960s West Indian culture, especially ska, soul and reggae music became adopted by white nationalists, which led to divisions within the skinhead scene.

In 2010 a spin-off series set three years after the film, This Is England '86, was shown on Channel 4. A sequel, set two and a half years after the previous series, This Is England '88, was broadcast in December 2011. A third installment, This Is England '90, was released in 2015.


Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), a 12 year-old schoolboy, gets into a fight at school after someone makes an offensive joke about his father, who died in the Falklands War. On his way home Shaun runs into a group of young skinheads led by Woody (Joe Gilgun), who feels sympathy for Shaun and invites him to join the group. They accept Shaun as a member and he finds a big brother in Woody, while developing a romance with Smell (Rosamund Hanson), an older girl who dresses in a punky new wave style.

Combo (Stephen Graham), an older skinhead, returns to the group after a prison sentence. He expresses English nationalist and racist views, and attempts to enforce his leadership over the other skinheads. This leads the group to split. Shaun stays in Combo's group instead of the apolitical skinheads led by Woody. Combo is impressed by and identifies with Shaun, who in turn sees Combo as a mentor figure. Shaun goes with Combo's group to a National Front meeting. After grossed as a member Pukey (Jack O'Connell) expresses doubt over the group's racist and nationalistic politics, Combo threatens and abandons him. The gang then engages in racist antagonism of, among others, local shopkeeper Mr Sandhu, a Pakistani man who had previously banned Shaun from his shop.

Combo becomes depressed after Woody's girlfriend Lol, whom Combo has loved since they had drunken sex years before, rejects him. To console himself, Combo buys cannabis from Milky (Andrew Shim), a member of Woody's group, and the only black skinhead. At a party with Shaun and the other members of Combo's group, Combo and Milky bond while intoxicated. Milky tells Combo about his many relatives and invites him for a meal. Combo becomes agitated with Milky's discussion about his fortunate upbringing - despite his parent's non-British heritage - and snaps at him by violently beating him unconscious. Combo angrily throws Shaun out of his flat for defending Milky, and attacks the other nationalists and evicts them. An emotionally regretful Combo looks at Milky, who is seemingly dead, then realises what he has done and seeks Shaun's help to get Milky to hospital. Afterwards, Shaun's mother reassures him that Milky will be all right. Shaun goes down to the shore and tosses a flag of St. George's Cross, a gift from Combo, into the sea.



Much of the film was shot in residential areas of Nottingham, including St Ann's, Lenton and The Meadows, with one section featuring abandoned houses at the former airbase RAF Newton, outside of Bingham, Nottinghamshire.The opening fight was filmed at Wilsthorpe Business and Enterprise College, a secondary school in Derbyshire. Additional scenes such as "the docks" were filmed in Turgoose's home town of Grimsby, which is also the opening scene for This is England '86, episode one.

Turgoose was 13 at the time of filming. He 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 saw the film, she saw a short preview. The cast attended her funeral.


The film is set in an unidentified town in the Midlands. Although much of the film was shot on location in Nottingham, a number of scenes feature the town's docks, which precludes this inland city being the setting for the action. Similarly the accents of the main characters are drawn from a wide geographical area.


On 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.

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, Thomas Turgoose winning the Most Promising Newcomer award.

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