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'Skins': Alex Arnold previews Rich's episode

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Skins Series 6: Rich
Let's recap: The Skins all went to Morocco and had a great time... until a horrible, hand-to-mouth car crash turned things sour, and left poor Gracie in a coma.

So what's next? Well, it's all about Rich this week - he's desperate to spend time with Grace, but Professor Blood's still banning him from the hospital. Will he be able to get reunited with his loved one?

We needed some pre-show gossip so we called Alex Arnold - who plays Rich - to find out more about the episode. Read on to see what he had to say, and then get back here at 9am tomorrow morning for some after-show chat!

So after that big shock last week, how's Rich reacting to Grace being in hospital?
"Rich's episode basically chronicles the relationship Rich and Grace have together. There's a lot of things that happen, that swing one way and then it swings another.

"It's quite a spooky episode in a way - not spooky as in horror film, but it's always on edge. And so Rich's reaction is to be there all the time and to do whatever he can to be with Grace. That's the thing that matters the most to him at that moment in his life.

"It's kind of make or break. It's kind of either the making of something great in his character, or the decline. [The episode] affects who he becomes later on and what he'll get from life afterwards. So he's on constant edge, and that's really how he reacts."

And Professor Blood's still banning him from the hospital, isn't he?
"That's right. There's 'Wanted' posters and flyers! Rich tries to sneak in and sort of befriends Isy Suttie's character, who's a nurse who looks after Grace. He has to use her, almost, as a person to give stuff to Grace or talk to Grace. But then he makes a very swift decision to just finally go in and try and see her."

You mentioned Isy and Chris Addison obviously plays Blood. But Liza Tarbuck plays your mum in this episode as well. What was it like working with all those guests?
"They're all amazing comedy actors and I guess I spent a good length of time with each of them. I knew Chris from series five. But yeah, they're amazing - they're an amazing bunch of people themselves. They're really nice people. Liza's really quite funny. And I'm a fan of Isy's from Peep Show. They're amazing actors and very talented individuals."

Alo and Rich start a band in this episode - did you enjoy that?
"Yeah, that was really fun. I didn't play anything before. I'm with my mate - we tried to start a little band but it didn't quite work out! But I used to sing and write the lyrics. But yeah, I picked up the bass and learnt a few things like the Pixies, Joy Division.

"Will [Merrick, who plays Alo] could already play the guitar - he'd played for four years or something. But we had some help from two great guys - Paul Childs taught us the guitar parts along with Matty Simpson, who does the theme song. They both composed the song and wrote the lyrics and we played.

"That was really good fun and something I've never done before. It was kind of an excuse to pick up an instrument and start playing. To film it was incredible, because we do a gig in a house and it felt like you're actually playing a gig because the crowd was going mental. Although it was kind of pretend, it felt real, and you felt like you were God on stage! It was really good fun."

Skins S06E02: 'Rich'

© Channel 4



But Rich and Alo's friendship gets tested in the episode, doesn't it?
"Yeah, it does actually. If there was a second part to the story, it would be the relationship between Rich and Alo. People have said it's kind of like a buddy movie... it feels like kind of a buddy story. It's not all sorrow and sadness - a lot of it is really great humour, and that's from the scripts. We have a little fight in the episode and that was quite funny to do and quite fun to film. I had a really good time with Will, actually, filming the episode. We both really enjoyed it."

It is quite an emotional episode - were you nervous about filming it at all?
"There was quite a big weight. I think that's for everyone, though, this series - a big weight on the sort of drama of it all. I would be lying if I said I didn't have any pressure. I wanted to give a really good performance.

"But I was supported by so many good people - the director Sam Donovan; Neil Duncan, who's the script supervisor; Dan Lovett, who actually wrote the script. I was with great actors like Will, Laya [Lewis].

"I actually had a really good, fun time doing it even though it was quite heavy stuff. In preparation, I didn't see my girlfriend for almost two weeks because I wanted to sort of know what that was like. I wouldn't know what it's like to have a girlfriend in a coma but to not be able to see her, that's the sort of thing that's really at the heart of it and that's what I thought would help my performance, and something I could use and think about. I was supported by so many great-minded people."

So why should people watch the episode?
"I think it's different to anything that happened last year, and that goes for the whole series, really. But there's some great moments in it like the band stuff, there's a good little bit of pathetic child fighting from me and Will Merrick! It's quite a touching episode really, and I think people are going to be sort of like, 'What?' Because it leaves it in a definite sort of place, like a final conclusion, but at the same time it leaves a lot of questions.

"I think [watch it] if you want to be tested, because I felt clever reading the script! It is a really clever script. I think it's going to make people think. So that's why I think you should watch it."

Skins airs tonight (January 30) at 10pm on E4.

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