SOME doubted it would work.
But the expansion of Shameless to 16 episodes a year proved a success.
Now the cameras are back on the Chatsworth estate to film series six of the award-winning Channel 4 drama.
Due on screen in 2009, the Gallaghers, Maguires and the rest of the estate’s characters will again feature in 16 episodes.
A Shameless spokesman says: “This series promises benefit fraud, brothels, stints in jail and stings gone wrong, with fake suicides, cold turkey, joyriding, lesbian romps, lingerie parties, revenge and a trip to the seaside to boot – all life affirming events in the world of this Manchester estate.
“Debbie (Rebecca Ryan) hits sweet sixteen and the Gallaghers are going to celebrate the only way they know how – a party!
“Frank (David Threlfall) suffers post natal depression with baby number nine – while Monica (Annabel Apsion) is busy re-decorating the house and regaining her womanhood.
“Micky Maguire (Ciaran Griffiths) goes to college and discovers a talent for porn, plus his ‘Madchester’ tours in his pink limo get him and brother Shane (Nicky Evans) into trouble.
“Liam’s (Johnny Bennett) talents continue to burst out when school discovers his leaning towards genius.”
New faces include Bolton-born Joanna Higson, pictured above as Greggs Girl in current BBC3 comedy series Scallywagga.
The Salford University graduate plays feisty auxiliary nurse Maxine, who after seducing Carl (Elliott Tittensor) gets her feet firmly under the Gallagher table when she becomes best mates and clubbing partner with Debbie.
It came as a bit of a shock, but we know now that Debbie is all grown up.
Meanwhile Mandy (Samantha Siddall) meets a charismatic new love interest called Joe (Ben Batt).
“Some sinister dealings and the breakdown of family on the Chatsworth estate sets a darker tone to series six.
“The highly unorthodox yet extremely tightly knit Gallagher family is torn apart, while the Maguires’ past deeds finally come back to haunt them.
“Even Yvonne (Kelli Hollis) has some serious explaining to do when an unexpected visitor turns up.
“Cracks appear in Karen (Rebecca Atkinson) and Jamie’s (Aaron McCusker) marriage and Paddy Maguire (Sean Gilder) discovers that temptation comes in various forms.
“Ian (Gerard Kearns) questions if Chatsworth is the place for him and introduces a strange newcomer to the estate; whilst Norma (Dystin Johnston) makes a grim discovery while refurbishing The Jockey, and a grimmer one, when she goes in search of her own past.”
Shameless creator Paul Abbott has brought together a wide pool of writers to work on Shameless 6, including former Corrie star Tracy Brabin.
And aside from playing Frank and directing four episodes, David Threlfall also takes on the role of executive producer.
Having watched all of series five, I rated just one of the 16 episodes as not up to the usual cracking Shameless standard.
The rest was simply glorious.
Bring on 2009!