University life can be fraught. When you’re not navigating around a mountain of dirty dishes or scratching out an essay under the malign influence of Pot Noodle, there’s a full-blown identity crisis to cope with and no bloody teabags to help you do it. Take Kingsley, Fresh Meat’s resident geology-turned-drama-turned-geology-again student. “He’s gone away for the Christmas holidays and come back as a self-styled ‘jazz man’,” erstwhile Inbetweener Joe Thomas tells Empire. “And he’s definitely overreaching.”
Sure enough, Kingsley’s new look for season two of Channel 4’s award-winning comedy involves some egregious knitwear and a Tony Almeida-style soul patch that quickly sees him dubbed ‘Patch Adams’ by housemates Vod (Zawe Ashton), Howard (Greg McHugh), Josie (Kimberley Nixon), JP (Jack Whitehall) and Oregon (Charlotte Ritchie). And, as McHugh explains, he’s not the only one to have pulled a new identity out of the bag for the second term. “Everyone is finding their feet in a different way – they’re all trying to be someone different. Expect lots of student pretense.”
Conceived by Peep Show pair Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, the first helping of Fresh Meat nailed the pranks-and-angst extremes of student life. There were giddy highs (the flat party, the student march), grim lows (Josie’s special munge) and moments of genuine tingling pathos (the funeral road-trip). Then there was Professor Shales (Tony Gardner), a cult figure safely relied upon for being breathtakingly inappropriate.
“We’re calling it 'Mouldy Meat',” laughs Zawe Ashton of the second season of Channel Four’s uni comedy. She’s joking, of course, as Empire can testify. We’re in The Kings Arms in Salford, surrounded by wallhanging 7-inches by Squeeze, Prefab Sprout and, weirdly, Roland Rat, where Vod and her flatties are running the rule over a potential new housemates to replace the mysterious Paul Lamb. It’s Shallow Grave by way of the Queen Vic and the perfect place for the crew to test drive their new nicknames. JP and Kingsley – aka “Posho and Soul Patch” – are slowly finding their feet, with the former taking some of his new jargon out for a spin. “I’m Bantonio Banteras”, explains JP to a baffled interviewee. “Welcome to your first bante-natal class.”
Judging by the characters’ easy rapport (give or take Howard and his quest to fill the vacant room with “a wiry, stealthy psychopath”), the characters will be picking off pretty much where they left at the end of term one. The Spaced-with-(hons) beats are still there – look out for JP’s tankcopter to rival Mike Watt’s War Bastard – and there’ll be another dose of undergrad slang, although Whitehall, for one, hopes it’ll be less, erm, confrontational than the first season’s. “People just tweet ‘rape’ – JP’s phrase – at me on Twitter which looks a little bit like an accusation,” says Whitehall. “My mum asks me what I’ve been doing.”
Fresh Meat Season 2 starts tonight on Channel 4 at 10pm