Film / This Is England

This Is England is a 2006 British drama film written and directed by Shane Meadows. The story centres on young skinheads in England in 1983. The film illustrates that skinhead subculture, whose 1960s roots include elements of black culture, especially ska, soul and reggae music, became adopted by white nationalists, which led to divisions within the skinhead scene.

Two timeskipped Spin-Off Miniseries were produced for Channel 4. This is England '86 takes place three years later, with Shaun making amends and rejoining the skinheads, Lol's father returning and Combo's release. This is England '88 features Shaun in college and Lol raising a child.

The film contains examples of:

  • Almighty Mom: The scene where Shaun's mum storms into the cafe and tells off the skinheads for giving her son an Important Haircut without her permission.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Combo unexpectedly declares his love for Lol, giving her a present and telling her she was the only thing that got him through his three years in jail. He can barely get his words out at first, and begins to tremble uncontrollably when Lol coldly rejects him, barely holding back the tears.
  • Asian Store-Owner: He bans Shaun early on, and gets his Disproportionate Retribution later on.
  • Ax-Crazy: An externally subdued form in Combo, but the guy definitely has issues. Violent ones.
  • Bald of Awesome: The entire original skinhead gang, basically a bunch of disaffected bald teenagers out to have fun.
  • Bald of Evil: Combo and Banjo, much older than the rest, fresh outta prison and armed with machetes.
  • Berserk Button: Any mention of the Falklands War sends 12 year old Shaun berserk with rage. He assaults Harvey and Combo (the former a much older teen, the latter a grown man) with varying results.
  • Black Best Friend: Milky is Woody's oldest and best friend, and the token black guy in the gang.
  • Broken Pedestal: Combo goes from headstrong father figure to shattered nervous wreck in a matter of minutes, leaving Shaun wholly disillusioned with his life at that point.
  • Butt Monkey: Gadget, who is relentlessly mocked for his weight problems.
  • Corruption of a Minor: Shaun is groomed by Combo from a disaffected and casually delinquent kid into a mini National Front member.
  • Crapsack World: Set in a depressed, shitty suburb of some nowhere city in outer England, amidst the Falklands War and crippling unemployment.
  • The '80s: Set in 1983.
  • Good Parents: Shaun's mother surprises everyone by acknowledging that the skinheads have actually been a positive influence on Shaun and lets them continue socializing in spite of her trepidation.
  • Good Times Montage: Louie, Louie...
  • Important Haircut: Obviously a necessity if you're joining a skinhead gang.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Combo lays the smackdown on Milky, Banjo, Meggy and Shaun in a blind rage, he collapses into a heap and starts crying over Milky's senseless body.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Combo gets stoned with Milky and appears to bond with him, but subsequently undergoes a transformation when Milky begins talking about his amazing family life. Combo begins to verbally abuse him, which Milky reacts to with a wry smile. Combo blows his top and beats Milky to an unconscious pulp in a rather graphic and disturbing scene.
  • Nothing But Hits: Say what you like about skinheads, they had some damn fine taste in music.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Gadget, Lol, Woody, Milky, Combo, Banjo, Smell...
    Smell: I guess cause it sounds a bit like Michelle... but not really.
    • The actual names of the other characters are revealed in passing in both the film and the miniseries. Gadget is Gary, Lol is Lorraine, Woody is Richard, Milky is Michael, Combo is Andrew, and Meggy is short for Ronald Megford's surname.
  • Oop North: The setting is deliberately vague, but is implied to be somewhere around Yorkshire and the East Midlands. The movie was filmed in the suburbs of Nottingham and Grimsby, while the miniseries was filmed in Sheffield. Strong provincial accents abound - it is about as far away from Britain Is Only London as it can get.
  • Pet the Dog: Combo may be a violent racist, but he does have a sensitive side...
  • Power Walk: Done twice. The first time is very light-spirited, highlighting Shaun's acceptance into Woody's gang. The second time is much darker in tone, when Shaun joins Combo's gang of skinheads, who are much more violent and racist than Woody's.
  • Strawman Political: Averted - both Combo's and some of the National Front members' arguments for their beliefs are really made by nationalists, whether you take them or leave them.
  • Taking the Heat: Also a Noodle Incident-Combo went to prison for something Woody did in the past.

The miniseries provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Three characters from the film are mysteriously missing from the miniseries - Pukey, Kes and Pob (Milky's girlfriend). No explanation is given for their absence, although possibly justified considering the series takes place three years later and friends can come and go in that time.
    • Pukey and Kes are effectively replaced by Harvey, who was a minor schoolyard bully in the film and not a member of the skinheads.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Lol's father is sexually abusive.
    • Harvey's father is shown briefly to be physically abusive.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Harvey, who had a very brief appearance in the film as a bully at Shaun's school, is now a fully-fledged member of the gang.
    • Flip, the hilarious leader of the biker gang in '86, had a "blink-and-you-miss-it" moment in the film as the boy who mocked Shaun's trousers outside Mister Sandhu's shop. In '90 he is more prominently featured in the cast, along with Higgy.
    • Trudy had a throwaway appearance as a shoe shopkeeper in a single scene of the film, the returns in the miniseries with a significantly expanded role, in which it's revealed that the shoe shop is just one of her many current *ahem*
  • Back for the Finale: Meggy, Banjo, Trudy, Kes and Pob all make brief silent cameos in the final episode of '90.
  • British Brevity: Four episodes in the first miniseries, three in the second, and four in the third.
  • Character Focus: Kelly receives a lot more focus in '90.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Meggy disappears in between the first two miniseries, and producer Mark Herbert tweeted that this is because he 'died taking a dump' off-screen in 1987. The canonicity of this is questionable, but as there is no mentioning of him whatsoever after the fact, fans have no choice but to take this as Word of God.
    • Although one could say that his appearance at the wedding party at the end of '90 debunks this.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Gadget and Kel have a wheelchair race in the hospital, not following any particular route, and it just so happens that the race reaches its climax in the exact same place where Lol and Kel's mum has just come in at the exact same time.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Gives Lol, Woody and Milky a lot more scrutiny.
  • Time Skip: Inverted with '86, as it's set three years after the film but the gap of time between filming the two was significantly longer! However, '86 was followed by '88, which as the name suggests is set two years later, but filmed and aired one year later. This looks to be repeated with '90.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Milky is revealed to be Lol's... 'til he gets lucky. He breaks it off when he realises Lol and Woody are the Official Couple.