Burn It

Burn It is one of the exciting new innovative programs launching BBC3 this week. Set in Manchester around the Madchester era it tells the tales of 3 friends Jon, Carl and Andy and their passage from partying to adulthood. Equal parts laughter and despair the journey sees the relationships changing as they near 30 and the wife's, girlfriends and children come into the equation. Designer Magazine caught up with William Ash who plays Jon in the series and whose previous credits include Where The Heart Is and the forthcoming Nicholas Nickelby movie.

Q: If you could just start by filling us in where your character Jon fits into the story of Burn It?
A: The series is about 3 working class lads from Manchester who had their formative years from being eighteen till their late twenties in the rave culture of the late 80s / early 90s. They're like three brothers who have lived in each others pockets for the past 10 years and it's got to a point in their life's where it's time to move on and start looking for other things. So basically the idea of the series is 3 lads breaking up as what they were, they're still going to remain friends but there's a change in the relationships that happens because kids, girlfriends and wife's come into their life's and all that.

I play Jon, who out of the 3 lads is a bit of a romantic and quite sensitive and is the most reflective one out of the bunch, and he had a kid when he 15 years old which he had adopted. What happened was his parents said was you're not going to keep this baby which you've had with this girl because the girl was 15 years old as well - so it was taken out of his hands and it's something which has been at the back of his mind but he's never dealt with. When you first meet him at the beginning of the series he's starting to question it because he's been partying and not thinking about what he's going to do with his life - so there's a big hole in his life where this kid was.

Q: So did you live the whole Hacienda Madchester lifestyle?
A: I kind of went later on as the whole thing was dying down. I went to the Hacienda just after the first time it was reopened because I'm a little bit younger than the character so I just missed what I feel was the best times of it. I did used to go out partying at 18 years old, but Kieran and Chris went the Hacienda every weekend and did it all in Manchester. Burn It's about that change that has happened as well. There isn't that exciting time as well and even though there are still clubs most people would rather just sit in a fancy bar trying to talk over the loud music - it's just all bar culture now.

Matt Greenhouse who wrote it actually lived that life and it's not just something he's made up in his head. I can imagine he did all the things that the 3 lads do, so he gets it spot on. I think it's quite an interesting series because there are parts of it which are really really funny and some parts of it that are really dark, emotional and quite disturbing.

Q: When Burn It first started filming it seemed as if it was being tagged as the "Mel B Show", but as time has gone on she seems to have taken a back seat in the promotion. What was it like working with her?
A: She comes into it more in the later episodes and she's in it throughout. I think a lot of people are actually going to be surprised when they see what she can do because she is a really good actress. She is kind of everything you'd imagine her to be - confident, outgoing, funny, lively - and really unfazed by the fact it was her first real acting role.

A couple of the papers reported that she was being a nightmare on set and it just amazed the whole cast because not a word of it was true.

Q: Would you agree that with "Burn It" going out on BBC3 it gave you a bit of freedom in terms of how far you could push things?
A: I think because it's aimed at the age group of about 20-35 that's why. I don't think BBC1 or BBC2 would have taken on Burn It or if they would have they would have watered it down a little bit. I think BBC3 is tailor made for a series like this because it depicts real life without any kind of compromise.

Q: If we could take it away from Burn It for a while. In the past you've been in various programs such "Where The Heart Is" and "Havin It Off". What can we expect from you throughout 2003?
A: Were doing another series of Burn It in June and I really like to do theatre at least once a year but living up in Manchester it can sometime be a difficult.

I've also got a small part in Nicholas Nickelby which is already out in the States. I play Frank who marries Kate (Nicholas' sister) and that was a great experience because it was a massive American big budget film with people in it like Jim Broadbent, Christopher Plummer, Tom Courtney. I had a day there when it was the wedding and everyone was there who was in it and the faces you saw!!!


Burn It is on Sunday Nights on BBC3 and repeated on BBC1 on Monday Nights
Nicholas Nickelby is in cinemas within the next few months
For more information

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