This is England sequel heads Channel 4 drama revamp

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The Independent Online

Acclaimed director Shane Meadows is to make his first television drama with a four-part sequel to his film This Is England.

The award-winning movie followed the experiences of a 12-year-old boy who falls in with a gang of skinheads in the summer of 1983, and the new serial, We Were Faces, picks up their lives four years later.

Channel 4 commissioned the new show as part of a £20m revamp of the channel's drama output following the decision to axe Big Brother.

Thomas Turgoose, the young actor who won a British Independent Film Award for his performance in the film, returns to play the main character Shaun as he leaves school and begins to make his way in the world.

The four hour-long episodes will continue the adventures of the skinhead gang in 1986, as Chris de Burgh is at number one in the charts, Top Gun is filling the cinemas, VHS is beating Betamax, the World Cup is being played in Mexico and more than 3 million people are unemployed.

Meadows said: "When I finished This Is England I had a wealth of material and unused ideas that I felt very keen to take further - audiences seemed to really respond to the characters we created and out of my long standing relationship with Film4 and Channel 4 the idea for a television serial developed.

"Not only did I want to take the story of the gang broader and deeper, I also saw in the experiences of the young in 1986 many resonances to now - recession, lack of jobs, sense of the world at a turning point. Whereas the film told part of the story, the TV serial will tell the rest."

As with This Is England, the title of the new drama is taken from a line of the script.

Channel 4 announced today that Big Brother would not continue beyond the series next summer, and said the money this freed up would be focused on delivering more "event dramas" to build on the success of last year's Red Riding and The Devil's Whore.

In addition to We Were Faces, Channel 4 announced the commission of two other major drama serials, Any Human Heart, based on William Boyd's best-selling novel, and Homeland.

Homeland will be written and directed by multi-award-winning Peter Kosminsky, who created The Government Inspector, the TV drama about the death of weapons inspector Dr David Kelly.

The new four-part drama will explore the events and aftermath of British Mandate in Palestine in the 1940s through a journey made by a young Briton to Israel.

This autumn Channel 4 will show a new drama documentary examining the social history of Britain through key events in the reign of the Queen.

Five different actresses - Emilia Fox, Samantha Bond, Susan Jameson, Barbara Flynn and Diana Quick - will play Elizabeth in The Queen, which will use a mix of dramatised scenes, archive footage and testimony from royal insiders to tell the story of the pivotal moments in her reign.