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Page last updated at 10:52 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 11:52 UK
'Anti-Skins' comedy series returns

School sit-com The Inbetweeners is back for a second series on Thursday night. Newsbeat talks to two of its stars about comparisons to Skins, the future of the show and getting spotted in toilets.

The Inbetweeners
The first series featured music from Arctic Monkeys and The Wombats

It might not have made much of a splash when it screened last year, but since then The Inbetweeners has become something of a 'sleeper hit'.

It's been hailed as the anti-Skins and has even been nominated for a Bafta alongside comedy series like Peep Show and The IT Crowd.

Now it's back for a second series, which begins on Thursday evening on E4.

"It's about those kind of middle of the road kids who haven't really got anywhere cool to go out but try and make the best of it anyway," explains Joe Thomas, who plays romantic fool Simon Cooper.

"Hence The Inbetweeners, of course."

We end up getting in quite a lot of trouble with the writers and director and producers
Simon Bird reveals the cast's antics during filming

The series follows private school boy Will Mackenzie as he starts at a normal suburban sixth form and begins hanging around with three other boys as awkward as himself.

Unlike the characters in Skins, none of them get the girl they want or even manage to get into the coolest parties.

"Skins is great because it's this fantasy of what you want your teenage years to be," says Simon Bird, who plays Will McKenzie, "whereas The Inbetweeners is what your teenage years actually were."

"The Inbetweeners is more the time you spend not having the night that you thought you were gonna be having," adds Joe.

"Waiting to get somewhere, waiting for a bus to take you to a village [where] you might get into somebody's house party, that's the territory that we're involved in."

Bafta shock

The series has been nominated for best situation comedy at the Baftas, something the guys say came as a surprise.

"It's very unexpected," says Joe, "and the shows we're up against are real favourites of ours, it's really nice to be in that company."

"We're up against Outnumbered, Peep Show and The IT Crowd," adds Simon.

Will McKenzie
Will McKenzie is the main narrator of the series

"They're a bit cerebral, aren't they? It'd be nice to have something that was a bit more about people being sick," Joe deadpans.

The series' fame has led to some interesting experiences for the actors with their adoring public, though.

"I got spotted in a toilet the other day by the guy next to me," laughs Simon.

"I don't know why he was looking necessarily but, you know, good on him."

"The other night I was in a pub in Cambridge and the landlord wouldn't believe that I was the one out of The Inbetweeners," says Joe, "he kept on saying that I looked like him.

"By the end of the conversation I was getting out different forms of identification, which is odd.

"That's not the form of IDing you expect in a pub, literally proving your identity not your age."

'Really immature'

The second series will see the guys go on an eventful geography and sociology field trip to Swanage, as well as a night out clubbing in London.

Joe and Simon reckon the atmosphere on set is as ridiculous as the boys' mishaps in the series, though.

"I think 'cause we're wearing school uniform and there are teachers walking around it sort of gives us the license to be really immature," explains Simon.

"Shooting is basically six weeks of the four of us playing pranks on each other.

"We end up getting in quite a lot of trouble with the writers and director and producers."

"[They're] the grown-ups of the show," adds Joe, "who are trying to not lose loads of money, because we're wasting all their time on coming up with names for each other."

With the new series only going up to the end of their first year at sixth form, Simon and Joe are confident we'll see a lot more of Will, Simon, Neil and Jay.

"There's still next year to go and then gap year," says Simon.

"And we've been talking a lot about the possibility of doing a lads' holiday special to Tenerife or whatever. So yeah, I think definitely there's a few more series in it yet."

"[In] the first series to a certain extent," says Joe, "we were trying to set up who Will and Simon - well, not just Will and Simon…"

"Well, it's mainly about them, the two heroes," laughs Simon.

"I think the further you are in the more quickly you can just get into being funny," says Joe.

"Like Peep Show," adds Simon, "not many people watched the first series and then it built and built and now people absolutely love it.

"It'd be great to get to that sort of level."

Simon Bird and Joe Thomas were talking to Newsbeat entertainment reporter Stephen Holden.



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