Exclusive: “Skins” boss Jamie Brittain talks series 5, his legacy and leaving the series he co-created

AE:  Beyond the mental scripts and stellar one-liners, what do you hope people have taken away from your work on Skins?

JB: For me, it’s a single thing. I hope I have communicated this idea
that I feel very strongly that teenagers are the most important emotional signifiers a society. If we want to find morality, compassion, love, honesty and friendship in a given society the best place to look is at it’s teenagers. They are, more than adults, I think, the emotional core of western life.

AE: I agree with you. Is there anything you’d like to say to Skins viewers or AfterEllen.com readers?
JB: To your readers, and the Skins viewers in general, I’d like to thank them making working on Skins the most exciting experience I’ve ever had. The level of engagement, even when people haven’t liked what we’re doing, has made my job, and many of my friends’ jobs feel like something important. Even though we’re a little show, it means so much to me that the show means so much to other people.

AE: What’s next for you, Jamie?
JB: I want to write a film. I’ve got a pretty good idea for one. It’s about war and music, about a classical music composer in a World War II prison camp. But for now I’m laying low and max-relaxing.

AE: Music is a soul-sustainer for you, isn’t it?
JB: Absolutely. I f–king love it. I’ve actually started making some with Matt Simpson (Segal) which has been loads of fun. That’s what I’m doing at the moment, trying to make some tunes.

AE: That’s awesome! Will we ever get to hear any of it?
JB: A lot of Skins fans will have already heard it. But I’m not allowed to say where.

AE: Now they’ll be on a mission to uncover your mystery!  Can you tell me anything about series six?
JB: Six is going to be amazing, I reckon. There will be more episodes, 10 this time. And Neil Duncan and Toby Welch will be running it, and I think they’re just about the most talented, lovely, brilliant people I’ve ever met.

AE: Well, I’ll look forward to it when I’m finished mourning your decision to leave. Your writing has made a huge difference in my life, personally, and I know it has changed things for a lot of queer teenagers. I guess that’s my closing question — Skins has created my favorite queer characters ever. I mean, there will never be anyone like Naomi and Emily on TV ever again. And there was Maxxie. And Franky and Mini and Liv. Why give so much time and attention and authentic stories to the gay community? It’s not the norm, you know.
JB: I think because when you’re telling stories about teenagers, certain narratives demand to be told. Not just queer stories — queen bee stories, jock stories, metal-head stories. But queer stories are important because one of the ways the world is changing at the moment, in a kind of drawn out paradigm shift, is the way that we engage with sex, sexuality and queerness. The world is slowly waking up. This is particularly true with regards to youth. Adults fear teenage sexuality, more so when it’s outside the “norm.” We’re not trying to make a political point or agenda. What I’m saying is that these stories, now, at this time demand to be told. If we didn’t tell them, we wouldn’t be doing our job.

AE: Skins has been a significant part of the world waking up. Thank you for being brave enough to tell the kind of stories that matter. If we’re ever on the same side of the pond, I owe you a pint. Or twenty.
JB: I look forward to it!

For his latest writing shenanigans and thoughts on music, follow Jamie Brittain on Twitter.