Charlotte Ritchie's jump from student to TV's one to watch

The hit drama Fresh Meat has created a new star

After its first series began airing last year, university comedy Fresh Meat quickly established itself as a huge critical and commercial hit.

Audiences were immediately taken with the show, which sees the worlds of six hapless undergraduates collide when they all fail to apply for halls on time, and are forced to live under one roof away from the 24/7 party atmosphere afforded to their contemporaries. And for Charlotte Ritchie, who plays wannabe maverick Oregon, the reality of its success still hasn't quite sunk in: "If I actually thought about Fresh Meat going on television, I just couldn't or wouldn't do it – it's so terrifying! So you just think, 'Oh, what we're doing is fun, isn't it?' It's only at the end it sinks in that it will be on TV."

As part of the National Youth Musical Theatre group, Ritchie had her first taste of fame aged 11 in their touring production of Pendragon. "We went to Japan for two weeks, but because I was such an idiot at that age, the only thing I can remember is the way the toilets flushed. They had heated seats, and water jets, and would play music to cover the sound...I want to go back there as an adult so I can remember more than just the facilities!"

At 15, a part in short film The Open Doors opposite Michael Sheen and Cherie Lunghi secured her a professional agent, but Fresh Meat was undeniably the actor's big break. In the final year of her English and Drama degree when asked to audition for the role, Ritchie was cast just weeks before filming began and had to hotfoot it from university in Bristol to the set in Manchester. "Recording coincided with my last two weeks of university – I hadn't even finished my dissertation yet!" she laughs. But taking the role was a no-brainer: "I never anticipated the show would be such a hit, but even when I looked at the script for the first time, I had never felt like I wanted something so much before."

And Oregon (real name Melissa, a keen student attempting to reinvent herself as something of a rebel) has undergone some changes in the second series. "She's become more ruthless, and is moving on to bigger and better things. She does attempt to leave boys and her tutor (who she had an affair with in the first series) behind, but things come up which make that impossible."

Ritchie's own university experience wasn't quite as salacious as her character's: "Unlike Oregon, I didn't sleep with any of my tutors. I wasn't even tempted!" and she is keen to distance herself from her inconsiderate on-screen counterpart. "She defines herself by the company she's in, and is always trying to be someone she's not."

Off the screen but rarely off the stage, Ritchie has spent much of the past six years singing as one quarter of classical crossover group All Angels, Universal Records' answer to Il Divo. Having supported Katherine Jenkins on tour in 2009 and performed at the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final, the quartet have decided to "pull on the reins" now that they are all involved in other projects.

But singing will play more of a role in her next screen part as the lead in Jolene: The Indie Folk Star, an improvised film due for release at 2013's SXSW Festival. With a sprinkling of singing gigs and the return of thrice BAFTA-nominated Fresh Meat, for which there are already "whispers of a third series", the future looks promising for both the hit show and 23-year-old Ritchie.

Series 2 of 'Fresh Meat' is on Tuesdays at 10pm on Channel 4

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power