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However awful your housemates have been, you’ve probably seen worse on the small screen. Take C4’s brilliant studentcom ‘Fresh Meat’, returning this week for a third series. Would you live with a posh berk like JP (Jack Whitehall)? Frankly, we’d rather take our chances with the homicidal flatmates of ‘Shallow Grave’.
Television often trumps film in depicting houseshares, with the time and space to address the intricate strategising, manifold irritations and crumbling relationships that they entail. Whether you’re wealthy and ambitious (‘This Life’), impoverished and hapless (‘The Young Ones’) or somewhere in between (‘Peep Show’), co-tenancy on British TV generally ends in carnage.
The work of ‘Peep Show’ creators Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, ‘Fresh Meat’ boasts another wonderful ensemble and is the natural successor to the duo’s first hit series. You don’t have to have been to university to relate to the disputes over tea-making, hygiene problems and excruciating sexual tension – or the weird alchemy that can make apparently opposed personalities into soulmates.
In real life friendly, functional and approachable, the mostly London-based cast lived on the same floor of a Manchester apartment block throughout the shoot, building an intense bond that creates real magic on screen. They’ve been joined this year by Faye Marsay (as homeschooled fresher Candice), who recalls her first thought when she arrived on set: ‘what the fuck am I doing here?’.
Her understandable concerns proved groundless – she quickly fitted in. But being temporary neighbours is a long way from rinsing out the bath after someone else has used it. Could this lot really share a house? Their horrified expressions speak volumes, but we pressed them for specifics…