The rumours are true. The entire Skins cast has been axed in favour of younger models (oh, what a cruel and fickle world this is, etc. etc.). This means that next week's episode - Monday, 10pm, E4 - will be the last we see of Tony, Michelle, Sid et al. Boo! But why have the gang been ditched? What can we expect from the new breed? And WHY was Chris killed off? Skins co-creator Jamie Brittain tells all.
What can viewers expect from the final episode?
"It's all about goodbyes. It's about saying goodbye to your friends and the things you're going to leave behind. It's sort of a poem about the end of teenage life. It's a very pretty and beautiful episode."
But it's also a sad episode. What made you decide to kill off Chris?
"It seemed like it was the right thing to do. It was a very sad thing to do, and obviously for the actor it's very difficult, but we show teenage life in its good parts and bad parts. Friends do die, horrible things do happen to teenagers, and how they cope with that is really interesting. We wanted to introduce that element into the show to give it some realism."
Why did you decide to get rid of the entire cast?
"I think the decision was made when the show first began, really. It just seemed like the logical thing to do. The show is about kids aged 16 to 18 and the time they spend at college. It was kind of natural that we were going to change the cast round every two years, because it's those two years that we really focus on. We didn't really want to do a show where they all go off to university. The show's very much about teenage life and not university life."
Did the cast always know they had a limited lifespan?
"I'm not sure if they were aware of it from the start, but most of them were on two-year contracts, so they knew they were going to be there for two years for sure and beyond that was unsure. We told them as soon as we'd really decided, because we didn't know that we were going to get a second series or how certain things were going to go down. We told them around about when series two was commissioned. They were sad, but you know, it's all very exciting for them because they get to go off and do different stuff. They're all getting exciting new parts."
There have been rumours that the new series will focus on Effy and her gang, and the final scene of this series would seem to support that. Is it true?
"Obviously I don't want to reveal too much, but Effy definitely will be in series three. I don't want to say she'll be the focus or the main character, because we don't really do that, but she'll definitely be in series three and will be heavily featured, yes."
Effy has an obvious link with Tony, so does that mean the current cast could make guest appearances?
"I think it's possible, but I don't know how possible. These young guys want to move on and do different stuff and I'm not sure they'll want to be tied down to Skins. Also we're about telling stories about the individual characters. Just thinking about it, I don't know how much it would bring to these [new] characters to have Anwar or Cassie just suddenly turn up. I just can't quite see what the benefit of that would be, other than for them to say 'hi'. We haven't ruled it out but I think it's unlikely."
How's production on the new series coming along?
"Well we haven't actually been commissioned yet, as far as I know. But if we are then we'll have to begin filming in 13 weeks from now, so we've already started working on it. At the moment I'm writing episode two of the new series, which is based on a male character. It's very exciting, it's a good, fun episode."
How different will the new cast be? Will it be just new actors playing similar characters?
"Yeah, it will be quite different. Obviously people will see some similarities and that's unfortunate, but we're trying really hard to have a new, fresh, different group of people who are apart from the first lot of characters. So we've got a villainous character t