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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Teenager Tommo lands gritty role
Thomas Turgoose in This is England
Thomas demanded money to turn up for the audition
A teenager from Grimsby has made his acting debut as the star of a gritty new British film hailed as one of the most important of the year.

Thomas "Tommo" Turgoose had never acted before, had been banned from his school play for bad behaviour and even wanted 5 to turn up for the film's auditions.

In This is England, Thomas, now 15, plays loner Shaun who is "adopted" by a group of skinheads in 1983.

The award-winning film went on general release on Friday.

When he auditioned for the part of Shaun two years ago, Thomas was attending school for just one hour a week and had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

His disruptive behaviour meant his role in a school play had been withdrawn just a few days before rehearsals.

Thomas Turgoose in This is England
This is England has been dedicated to Thomas' mother

But his bravado was exactly what writer Shane Meadows, also responsible for Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, was looking for in the lead role when he went to Grimsby to look for a lively youngster with lots of personality.

The film's producer Mark Herbert said: "'We asked him to audition and he demanded a fiver to turn up."

"We liked that attitude - it showed that he wasn't desperate to be in the film like every other kid was."

This is England has won Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards, with Thomas scooping the Most Promising Newcomer award.

When it premiered at Grimsby's Whitgift Film Theatre, Thomas learned it had been dedicated to his mother, Sharon, who died last year.

Thomas said: "My mum had actually passed away before the film had finished editing so she couldn't see it, but my dad was there with me.

"Obviously I would have loved my mum to see it more than anyone in the world.

"Sadly she couldn't but she was there with me, which made me feel a whole lot better.

"Shane didn't tell me that he had dedicated the film to my mother and that was the best feeling ever. The feeling that I got from that was like winning the lottery."


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