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'Girls' in the UK: Could Inbetweener Jessica Knappett be the next Lena Dunham?

Alice Jones' Arts Diary

She was last seen as Lisa, locking lips with Neil on a booze cruise in Crete in The Inbetweeners movie. Now Jessica Knappett, 28, has had her debut sitcom picked up by E4.

Drifters will follow the trials of a trio of girls who drift home to Leeds after graduating to face the realities of recession. The show is something of an Inbetweeners reunion.  Lydia Bewley (who played Jane, Jay’s girl, in the film) and Lauren O’Rourke (Neil’s “home” girlfriend) will co-star while Inbetweeners writers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley are producing.

“It’s not a spin-off”, says the actress. “I think that would be a bit of a disaster. I came up with the idea before I shot the movie. It’s almost entirely autobiographical. Graduating, being skint, doing promotional work dressed up as a Blackberry mobile phone... It didn’t feel funny at the time but then I wrote it down and Iain and Damon thought it worthy of a sitcom. I don’t know if I should find that depressing or not.”

Knappett started out in the all-female sketch troupe Lady Garden, alongside Jennifer Saunders’ daughter Beattie Edmondson, but left when she landed the part in The Inbetweeners. “It was so hard getting six people in the same room. I felt like I was making life difficult for everyone else by being in other things. So it was time to go. Luckily we’re all still really good mates. I hope that there will be a part for all of them in Drifters at some point.”

The show, which will screen at the end of next year, is more a British version of Lena Dunham's “Girls”, than a female Inbetweeners, she adds. “But this is definitely a sitcom. There’s a lot of cringe comedy. It’s girls being funny in each other’s company. Girls are funny! And not just when they try to throw or drive.”

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