Skins stars on show's disturbing culture - including claims of rating teens' bikini bodies and ordering them to skip meals

·3-min read
BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 02:   Joseph Dempsie, April Pearson, Mike Bailey, Kaya Scodelario and Dev Patel attend the Channel 4/ E4 party for a one-off Skins special on August 2, 2007 in Bristol (Gloucestershire), England.  (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Skins star April Pearson has spoken out about the show's culture. (Mike Marsland/WireImage)

Former stars of Skins have claimed there was a shocking culture of rating actors' bodies and telling them to skip meals on the teen show.

Some of the E4 series' female stars have also spoken out about feeling uncomfortable at filming intimate sex scenes when they were just teenagers.

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April Pearson, now 32, played Michelle in the first two series of Skins and interviewed another of the show's alumni, Laya Lewis who played Liv in series five and six, in her podcast Are You Michelle From Skins?.

Lewis, now 29, said she "definitely felt a lot of pressure to be smaller or slimmer" and added that cast members were "told to skip breakfast" and given small portions for dinner.

BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 02:  Joseph Dempsie, April Pearson, Nicholas Hoult, Mike Bailey, Larissa Wilson, Hannah Murray and Kaya Scodelario attend the Channel 4/ E4 party for a one-off Skins special on August 2, 2007 in Bristol (Gloucestershire), England.  (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
April Pearson was in the original cast of Skins. (Mike Marsland/WireImage)

The actor said she had spoken up on behalf of her castmates, saying they all looked the same as the previous year, but that they had been told they didn't and to skip meals.

Lewis said: "We had to go to Morocco for the first episode of season six, and we each had to, in a bikini or our swimwear, one by one stand in a room with just us and the creator of the show.

"He was male and a lot older than we were, we were between the ages of 16 and 18, and be told if we looked good enough to film in Morocco.

Laya Lewis who plays Liv in the 6th series of TV drama Skins, during the launch of the E4 programme at the Richmix cinema in London.   (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
Laya Lewis talked about being pressured over her body image. (Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

"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.

"He said: 'You look great, Laya, you look great' - and I will never forget that moment… At the time I thought it was horrible, but I think it's so much f***ing worse now."

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Pearson agreed that she had also felt uncomfortable at points during filming, saying: "At the time you're young and you don't know any better.

"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 f***ed up'."

The third generation cast of E4 drama Skins (Left to right): Freya Mavor, Laya Lewis, Jessica Sula, Dakota Blue Richards, Alexander Arnold, Will Merrick, Sean Teale and Sebastian De Souza pictured before they leave for the Skins Tour from East London.   (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
Ex-Skins stars have spoken out about uncomfortable moments. (Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

Pearson, whose character Michelle was the girlfriend of Nicholas Hoult's character Tony, also spoke about not feeling old enough to have done the sex scenes they filmed.

She said: "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."

She added: "The preparation for what we were going to do… Nowadays you have an intimacy co-ordinator as a standard for nude, intimate scenes and that just simply wasn't a thing."

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