Page last updated at 08:30 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

Heroes... but not as we know them

Misfits
The offbeat series features reluctant teenage heroes who all have Anti-Social Behaviour Orders

by Kev Geoghegan
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

It's a nippy Thursday afternoon in September and we're standing 100ft under the M4 near Ealing, west London.

There are diggers nearby and a young, awkward-looking man with a briefcase is watching what they are about to uncover with growing uneasiness.

This is not a typical setting for a new drama about teenage superheroes...

But, according to the press notes, E4's new drama Misfits is not your typical teen show.

The series follows a gang of five young oddballs serving community service orders who, after being caught in a freak electrical storm, find themselves saddled with strange superpowers.

The cast of the new teen drama Misfits talk about what is in store for viewers.

But rather than comic book staples like super-strength, speed or even flying, their powers are all extensions of their more negative personality traits.

So, the girl who thinks people look down on her can suddenly read minds, the boy who is ignored by his family can become invisible and, bizarrely, the flirt of the group can send people into a sexual frenzy with the slightest touch.

So far, so super-Skins-meets-atomic-Shameless.

It's quite dark humour but is also quite real and gritty
Iwan Rheon

The show has been written by Howard Overman, whose credits also include episodes of BBC dramas Merlin and Hustle.

The young cast are largely unknown with two exceptions, 21-year-old Robert Sheehan starred in Channel 4's recent adaptation of the Red Riding trilogy and Lauren Socha made her debut in Samantha Morton's directorial debut, The Unloved.

Sheehan plays Nathan, described as a "smart Alec". On meeting him, it's a description that pretty much sums him up both on and and off-screen.

Iwan Rheon is shy nerd Simon, who bristles slightly when he is physically compared with Mathew Horne, despite sharing the comedian's mod-ish hair and buttoned-down look.

Rheon says the show shares similarities with Skins, E4's successful teen drama, but says it's "got the sort of humour of something like Shaun of the Dead". "It's quite dark humour, but is also quite real and gritty."

He adds: "It's sort of taking the mickey out of itself. The superpowers are often a hindrance and it's often not about the powers, but about how we deal with them."

Time-traveller

You may not recognise the name Nathan Stewart-Jarrett but viewers will almost certainly remember him from a chewing gum advert that was banned last year.

The one with the West Indian stereotype extolling the virtues of his gum on a megaphone, whilst floating down the Thames?

In Misfits, his character is a former athlete who dreams of turning back the clock for one last chance at glory. Guess what his superpower turns out to be?

If he actually had the power to time-travel, he says there are "a few parties that I would like to check out, like Studio 54 in New York back in the 70s".

To get to know each other, the young cast were made to take part in an activities weekend that involved them doing assault courses and crawling around in mud.

Clearly events that Socha prefers not to be reminded of. "I got bitten by a tic and I've got a scar now," she says, wincing.

"I've suffered for this show. I swore and I moaned and complained the whole day."

Rounding out the cast, and making her TV debut, is Antonia Thomas as party girl Alisha, who admits to being "really nervous" about how the show will be received.

"Providing people like the show, there's lot of room for a second series," she says.

Law-breaking teenagers with superpowers battling it out with murderous truant officers - what's not to love?

"We have very nice boiler suits, they're going to drive you wild. We look good," says gang leader Sheehan.

"Even though it hides my curves, I still pull it off."

Indeed.

Misfits begins on E4 on Thursday 12 November at 2200 GMT.



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