On a May 17 episode of her podcast Are You Michelle From Skins?, host April Pearson, who played Michelle Richardson, and her guest and former cast-member Laya Lewis, who played Liv Malone in seasons 5 and 6, both said they didn't feel protected or coached well enough to feel comfortable doing very intimate scenes. "At the time you're young and you don't know any better," Pearson said. "You don't really know what to say, to speak out, is this okay… And as with a lot of victims of trauma, you look back at it and think: 'Yeah, that was fucked up.''
She continued: 'There's a difference between being officially old enough and mentally old enough. I was having this conversation with my husband and I was saying I do feel like I was too young, I feel like I wasn't protected.'
Lewis, who was 18 during the time of filming, believed she was given more sex scenes because of her age. 'I do think fair enough, we are actors and we are acting, but I think if you want to pluck children out of the street, which is essentially what they were doing to have this authentic onscreen thing going on, there needs to be a bit more help," she said.
They actresses both alleged they weren't the only cast members who felt this way. "Laya, you're not the first person to have said you've carried some negativity from that experience," Pearson told her peer. "We're talking seven series of the same show and everyone feeling the same, certainly the women and some of the men I have spoken to feel the same. Nowadays you have an intimacy co-ordinator as a standard for nude, intimate scenes and that just simply wasn't a thing."
Skins was created by father and son duo Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain, and ran from 2007 to 2013. The series follows a group of teenagers in Bristol as they come of age and learn about relationships and the harsh realities of growing up. It was especially popular while it aired for showing a more gritty and raunchy side of teenagedom.
Pearson and Lewis also claimed that the show staff restricted their food and they felt body-shamed constantly. They alleged that women cast members were told to skip meals ahead of filming scenes in their bikinis. "I definitely felt a lot of pressure to be smaller or slimmer," she said. "From the actual creators or people behind the scenes. There was one point where we were told to skip breakfast, and for dinner we should just have a jacket potato."
Lewis said she and other teenaged cast members had to to line up and were appraised in bikinis before shooting and were told "if [they] looked good enough to film in Morocco."
"Costume told me to go first because I'm the most comfortable one, to show the other girls it's not that bad — but it was bad... I will never forget that moment," Lewis said. "At the time I thought it was horrible, but I think it's so much fucking worse now."
A representative for Elsley responded to the claims, telling The Sun: "We're deeply and unambiguously sorry that any cast member was made to feel uncomfortable or inadequately respected in their work during their time on Skins. We're committed to continually evolving safe, trustworthy and enjoyable working conditions for everyone who works in the TV industry.'"
A spokesperson from Channel 4, which ran Skins, told The Daily Mail: "It is very concerning to hear of the comments made. We now have a confidential ‘Speak Up’ facility available and widely publicised on our production call sheets for current productions, however, we take all allegations of inappropriate behaviour very seriously and encourage anyone with concerns to come forward."
Refinery29 reached out to Elsley for further comment.