Student house-share comedy Fresh Meat (Wednesday 21 September, Channel 4) has an impressive CV. Written by Peep Show creators Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, it stars Inbetweener Joe Thomas and stand-up Jack Whitehall, and features Robert Webb as a university lecturer.
We introduce the cast and ask them to share their first-year uni memories…
Peep Show’s Jeremy plays geology lecturer Dan
“I went to one of the newer Cambridge colleges (Robinson), which had a more casual, less stuffy reputation than, say, Trinity and as a state school boy I thought there wouldn’t be anything too posh or scary to cope with.
“I slightly panicked, then, when straight after the matriculation photograph I was offered the choice of a glass of sweet or dry sherry. I’d never had sherry before so I chose the dry one because I assumed that was more sophisticated. It was like drinking petrol.
“I’m quite proud of the way I really jumped into it but I was probably a bit ghastly. I was funny, which helped; I was already 20, which helped; and my mother had recently died, which I’m afraid to say also helped: I oozed with the studied vulnerability of a young man who thinks he is about due a massive amount of (safe!) sex. I’m delighted to say that it worked.”
The Inbetweener plays studious, sensible Kingsley, who swiftly develops a crush on one of his housemates
“All the old things that used to drive you along – the fear, encouragement, carrot and stick thing that happened at school – disappear the day you arrive at university.
“If you do quite well, nobody’s overly bothered and if you really f**k up, nobody’s overly bothered. It’s all up to you. That’s what I vividly remember about the first week: the sense that you don’t really have to do anything, which made me feel at once completely isolated and thrilled. There were so many opportunities.
“I do remember being drunk quite a lot and thinking: aha, perhaps this is what I’m supposed to be doing…
“When I moved to London with two friends [including fellow Inbetweener Simon Bird] that was the first time I lived in a house like the one in Fresh Meat and had to wrestle with all the really big issues in life: who’s going to do the washing-up? Who’s going to empty the bin? Who’s going to buy toilet paper? The answer to all those questions was me, but only they knew that…”
The stand-up comedian plays brash, idiotic public schoolboy JP
“I remember getting sprayed with foam in this horribly smelly club. I can sort of understand why you might have a foam party in nice, hot Ibiza but not in Manchester on a Tuesday night. It was just disgusting.
“There was another club night where you had to go in a coloured T-shirt: red if you were in a relationship; amber if you weren’t sure; and green if you were up for it. So obviously there was a sea of men wearing green, five women wearing red dresses and one big munter in the middle of the dancefloor wearing green. It was not a successful night in terms of meeting a future wife.
“I lived in notorious university accommodation called The Tower. People used to do the “tower challenge”, where you had to down a shot on each floor and would always find someone passed out on each level. I lived on the 14th floor and never got any sleep.”
The creator and star of Gary: Tank Commander plays Howard, the oddball of the house
“I woke up with a TV on my back and sick in my shoes. I can’t claim it was some kind of tropical disease, sadly; I’d knocked over a shelving unit after over-indulging.
“Just before closing time there would be a panicked dash to the bar and I’d order an extra two pints and an Apple Sourz – that revolting green liqueur – to round the evening off in style. No wonder I was always having to hoover up sick the morning after.”
The St Trinian’s 2 actress plays punky English student Zod
“I remember no one could understand what I was saying because I used to mumble a lot, which isn’t ideal for an actress. That soon got beaten out of me at drama school!
“Like the characters in Fresh Meat, I found my accommodation quite late and ended up in these terrible privately owned Halls. I lived next door to a wannabe DJ who played really loud, really rubbish music in the middle of the night, every night, although he was well aware that I always had a 9am start.”
Kimberley plays Josie, the group’s mother figure, who nevertheless makes some dreadful decisions of her own
“I went to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, which was great but very different from a typical university. They sat us down in the first week and said: if you want to party, you’ve come to the wrong place. There were no lie-ins or skipping lectures.
“I’ve six brothers, so I’d always lived in a very male-orientated house. All of a sudden I was sharing a house with three women. I just remember going into the bathroom in the first week and being astounded at the bottles and bottles of product that covered every surface; I didn’t even know what half of them were for! I was used to a single bottle of shower gel that everyone used.”
Charlotte plays Oregon, who’s dyed her hair pink in a desperate attempt to appear cool
“I remember going to the Freshers Fair and signing up to everything, including morris dancing. Then I had to get a new email address because I was so embarrassed about being contacted by all these clubs and societies I had no desire to attend…”
Fresh Meat starts on Wednesday 21 September at 10pm on Channel 4