This is England: Growing up in Thatcher’s Britain

Shane Meadows’ film This is England (2006) is a coming-of-age story set in England in the early 1980s. It was followed by three television mini-series, made for Channel Four, which traced the lives of the characters at two-yearly intervals between 1986 and 1990. The film is more explicitly political, focusing on the appeal of right-wing racist movements at the time; while the television sequels address more personal questions about growing up, the passing of time, and the relationship between the present and the past. This essay explores these issues, while also considering Meadows’ representations of youth culture and of social class. I argue that This is England presents an ‘insider’ view of working-class youth that remains comparatively rare in mainstream media.

You can download the whole essay (without illustrations) by clicking here, or if you want to read the illustrated version, click on the subheadings to read the different sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Looking back to the eighties
  3. Growing up on telly
  4. Art cinema and social realism
  5. Representing class; conclusion
  6. Sources and references