by LAUREN CODLING
THE star of a new Sky One comedy featuring a group of working-class northern men has revealed his experiences working on the set, including filming in a brothel.
Based in Lancashire, Brassic follows a group of friends who deal in similar shady lines of work. They are constantly finding unconventional ways to get by – whether by stealing Shetland ponies or plotting scams in sewer canals.
Parth Thakerar plays the role of JJ, described as a “sharp entrepreneur” with a money spinning sideline in stolen cars. His role in the gang is pivotal, he said – if the gang ever need a vehicle to help out with their dodgy dealings, JJ can offer the resources.
Speaking to Eastern Eye, Thakerar revealed the role was like nothing he had ever worked on previously.
“Every day on set, it would be something different,” he said. “I would be saying things that I never thought I’d be saying in my life, and getting up to stuff on set that I didn’t know people were capable of doing, yet here we were.”
“Whether it was literally getting into a sewer to film a couple of shots or filming in a brothel (parts of the show were shot in an actual sex dungeon in Manchester), it was a massively fun experience.”
Brassic’s main character Vinnie – played by co-creator Joe Gilgun – is the unofficial leader of the group. Always living in an unorthodox manner, Vinnie had a troubled childhood and blew his first safe at seven years old. He is also open about his struggles with his bipolar disorder. Gilgun, who loosely based the show on his teen years growing up in the countryside near Manchester, also battles with the illness.
The Misfits star was keen to reveal the truths behind the condition, as he said he “hated the typical, television version of what bipolar is”.
“What I’m trying to say is with the bipolar [situation], don’t let the assumption be that because someone suffers with mental health, they’re not capable of doing what a ‘normal person’ could do,” Gilgun explained.
Thakerar has praised Gilgun for his honesty, adding his belief that seeing mental health portrayed on screen was vital for audiences.
“It is extremely important that stuff like this puts a light upon it on television. Having someone like Joe, who is very happy and open to talk about it and how he deals with it, is great,” he explained. “Not only does it educate audiences, but it educated us when we were working with him. It has been nothing but a great experience.”
The show’s northern setting was key to the narrative, with Thakerar saying the storyline could not have worked anywhere else.
“When you hear about Joe’s life and the characters he describes, it can only be set in one place,” he said. It was also nice to see a show set in northern, working-class England, in contrast to larger southern cities, Thakerar, who hails from Northolt, in west London, added.
Looking back at his childhood, the actor recalled his “classic Asian upbringing”, saying he grew up watching Bollywood films and Indian television series. Bollywood was a big passion for him, he admitted, and he aspired to star in the films he watched so often. It was only as he grew older that he realised his ambitions lay elsewhere.
When Thakerar was a teenager, his sister took him to his first play, and his appetite grew for theatre. After graduating from the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 2013, he began to carve out a career in theatre, television and film.
He has appeared in Midsomer Murders, Doc Martin and his latest role in Gangs of London, a new Sky Atlantic 10-part series, is due to air next April.
However, his role in Brassic will always be a special experience, Thakerar explained. It is evident that he and the other cast members formed a genuine friendship, one which he said he hopes will manifest truthfully on screen.
“All I want is for people to watch the show and be like ‘yeah, I want them to be my friends and to hang out with them,” he said. “That is probably the most important part of Brassic – friendship”.
Brassic is showing on Sky One and NOW TV next Thursday (22) at 10pm.
All pictures courtesy of Sky/NOW TV