THE ashtrays were full when I walked into The Jockey on a recent set visit.
Shameless returns for a sixth series in January.
And it promises to be another dramatic – and at times darker – rollercoaster ride through the wonderful world of the Chatsworth estate.
Stopping off along the way for many of those joyful Shameless comedy moments.
As you can read in today’s MEN, Frank Gallagher and the rest of the locals are set to re-ignite the smoking ban debate.
Regulars at The Jockey protest by lighting up outside the pub, drinking cheaper booze from the local shop.
So with the bar empty and facing financial disaster, Jamie (Aaron McCusker) and Karen (Rebecca Atkinson) decide to flout the law.
And in typical Shameless fashion, for the rest of the 16-part series the air is thick with smoke with the ash trays full of cigarette stubs.
Salford-based actress Tina Malone, who plays Mimi Maguire, told me: “The Jockey is one of those maverick pubs. Even though it’s cheaper to smoke outside, it’s that community thing where they all want to be inside.”
You can read more here.
The new series of the award-winning Channel 4 drama also features an addition to the set in the form of a Manchester nightclub, complete with cowprint walls.
I interviewed some 15 cast members at the Shameless Wythenshawe TV complex – all with stories to tell.
The first of several TV features will run in the New Year.
But, for now, you might like to check out a new Shameless DVD here.
It appears to be exclusive to Zavvi – once better known as Virgin Megastore – and features both a classic Christmas and New Year episode.
And if you missed any part of the last series – what were you thinking? – then go directly to the box set here.
Series five proved, yet again, that Shameless is the very best of British telly.
Finally, for those who didn’t see it at the time, here are some of the details from the series six in production announcement back in April:
“The Gallaghers, The Maguires, and all the lawless, loveable characters of the Chatsworth Estate return for 16 new and unpredictable episodes for 2009.
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 this series, there’s feisty auxiliary nurse Maxine (Joanna Higson), who after seducing Carl (Elliott Tittensor) gets her feet firmly under the Gallagher’s table when she becomes best mates and clubbing partner with Debbie, and Mandy (Samantha Siddall) meets a charismatic new love interest Joe (Ben Batt).
Some sinister dealings and the breakdown of family on the Chatsworth Estate sets a darker tone to series six. The highly un-orthodox 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. How will they all cope?
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 Flouts The Smoking Ban