It's 10 o'clock on a damp Sunday morning in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the area, formerly home to bums and punks and most recently colonised by young professionals, hipsters and the odd celebrity, has today been taken over by a long line of chattering teenagers.
The reason these kids have forsaken their sacred weekend lie-in? It's the New York casting call for MTV's US remake of Skins, which will start filming early next year.
Teenagers have come from all over, both semi-professional – one girl from the La Guardia School for the Performing Arts admits with a giggle that "our entire class has turned out" – to those who have never acted at all. "I've never auditioned for anything, but the show means a lot to me," says 17-year-old Jackie Wharton, who has travelled down from Maryland with her mother for today's event. "The US version's going to be set in Baltimore, which is near where I live so maybe that'll help me stand out."
Also hoping to stand out are savvy quartet Nick, 16, Conor, 15, Skye, 15 and Rebecca, 15, who have travelled an hour and a half to the city from upstate New York. "We're just going to talk and talk, let it flow and see if they think we're right," says Nick with a grin. "It says 'no experience necessary', so I thought I'd mention A Clockwork Orange, talk about the Pixies and, you know, see what they think."
Audition tactics apart, most of the teens queuing down the street are sure about one thing: even though the US remake is being executive produced by original creator Bryan Elsley and will follow the original's blueprint by hiring young, largely unknown writers to keep the dialogue fresh, a US version of the show will still struggle to compete with the original. "It won't be as edgy as the UK version," says Jackie. "The thing about Skins is that it's more realistic than other teen shows; US shows don't depict what teenage life is like at all." Nick agrees: "The American version probably won't be as good. It's on MTV for a start. They can't show the nudity on US TV and they'll probably have to tone down the swearing."