AskDefine | Define shameless

Dictionary Definition

shameless adj : feeling no shame; "a shameless imposter"; "an unblushing apologist for fascism" [syn: unblushing]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. having no shame; immodest; unable to feel disgrace


Extensive Definition

Shameless is a BAFTA award-winning British comedy drama television series set in the fictional Chatsworth Estate in Manchester, England. Produced by Company Pictures for Channel 4, the first seven-episode series aired weekly on Tuesday nights at 10pm from 13 January 2004. The dramedy, centered within UK working class culture, has been accorded critical acclaim by various sections of the British media, including The Sun newspaper and Newsnight Review on BBC Two.
The programme was created and, at least initially, mainly written by Paul Abbott, who is also the programme's Executive Producer. Much of the series is based on Abbott's own experiences growing up in a similar situation to the Gallagher children in Burnley.
The first series was co-written with Danny Brocklehurst and Carmel Morgan. In subsequent series, Abbott and Brocklehurst shared the main writing duties.
For the fifth series a 6,100 m2 (66,000 sq. ft) exterior and interior set was built on an industrial estate in Wythenshawe, Manchester.


The opening credits have always featured a monologue from what could arguably be called the central character of the series, Frank Gallagher. The series charts the lives of the dysfunctional Gallagher family, comprising the father, Frank Gallagher and his nine children, widening the scope to other occupants of the estate as the series progresses. Central characters include:
  • Fiona (series 1–2),
  • Lip (Phillip) (series 1–4, guest series 5),
  • Ian,
  • Carl,
  • Debbie,
  • Liam,
  • Nigel and Delia (2–4, Frank's twins with Sheila),
  • Stella (born at the end of series 5. Frank denied that he named her after the beer)
Other characters featured in earlier series included Fiona's boyfriend Steve, a middle-class car thief (series 1-2); Kev and Veronica (series 1-3, guests in series 4), the Gallagher's neighbours; Kash, the owner of the local shop, and his wife Yvonne; agoraphobic Sheila (series 1-4) and her daughter Karen; Lip's girlfriend Mandy Maguire; the policemen Tony and Stan, along with various regular background characters. The cast was expanded for the series 2, with Carol and Marty, Veronica's mother and brother, becoming regular characters after guest roles in the first series. In series 3, Mandy's family, led by her drug-dealing mother Mimi Maguire and Paddy Maguire, became key characters. In series 4 we also meet three of the Maguire parents' sons: Shane Maguire, who is determined to show his parents and the estate that he is a hard man and a good worker, and Mickey Maguire, who is gay and similarly determined to prove himself. We also meet Jamie Maguire, who has been in prison for 10 years for murder. The estate are initially scared of him in case he turns against anyone, but as we find out he is a partially reformed character, and wants to get on with his life. He eventually marries Karen Jackson.
The Gallagher family reside on the fictional Chatsworth Estate, a council estate in Stretford, Greater Manchester, although is actually filmed on location in Gorton, East Manchester. The scenes in the local pub, The Jockey, are filmed on a set in Salford although the exterior shots are of a real pub named The Wellington which is located in West Gorton. Also in proximity are other landmarks including Yvonne's shop and the Gallagher household which is located on the corner of Clowes Street and Wenlock Way.
As from series 5 there has been a purpose built set for the show on the Roundthorn Industrial Estate in South Manchester on the site of the old Umbro factory.

Critical acclaim

In April 2005, the programme's first series won the Best Drama Series category at the British Academy Television Awards, the most prestigious awards given in the British television industry. It was also nominated for 'Best British Drama' at the 'National Television Awards 2007', but lost out to 'Doctor Who'. Also 'Shameless' has won two awards at the 'Royal Television Awards Society North West Awards 2007' where it beat 'Coronation Street' to the 'Best Continuing Drama Award' and Gerard Kearns (Ian Gallagher), won the 'Best Performance In A Drama Award' for his role in Channel 4's 'Mark Of Cain'.
The programme has been sold overseas, where it airs on channels such as SBS (Australia), Showcase Television (Canada), Nederland 3 (The Netherlands), YLE FST5 (Finland), SIC Radical (Portugal), RTÉ Two (Ireland), Sundance Channel and BBC America (Which only aired the first series (United States)), yes+ (Israel), and Jimmy (Italy)


Shameless is noted for having a style very different from other British comedies. A "moving camera" shooting technique (employing few masks or filters) is employed, reminiscent of the BBC2 drama This Life. The show’s interiors are filmed on staged sets and occasionally on location. The soundtrack is part naturalistic, but occasionally uses music and voiceovers. The music is by composer Murray Gold.
Each episode begins and ends with a narrative voice-over by one of the characters highlighting the themes of the episode. The opening and closing voiceovers are often humorous in nature, as the point of the episode has already been shown. The commentator of each episode is normally the one on whom the plot focuses. This was much more prominent in the first two series, where a plot revolving around one character would normally prevent any other prominent sub-plots involving other characters; in series three, co-abiding plots revolving around different characters are more common. However, unlike many shows, these plots are not entirely separate and the plots always support each other to the episode's conclusion.
The show is characterized by Paul Abbott’s extensive use of Manchester dialect and slang - and considerable profanity - and is a humorous but warmly realistic portrait of working-class life on council estates where petty crime and violence loom large and authority figures are the antagonists. (Whilst the two policemen, Stan and Tony, are likeable individuals, the police force as a whole is portrayed as antagonistic). An underlying tenet of the show is the strong underlying bonds of blood and loyalty which bind the Gallaghers and by extension families, in the face of any vicissitudes. Parental figures are largely absent or feckless, the cohabiting siblings often left to fend for themselves or forced into a reversal of the parent/child relationship (as made evident by Frank Gallagher's admission "kids who are convinced I'm actually theirs" in the revamped opening credits for season 5), ever wary of the authorities becoming aware of their living situation and separating them; indeed, many episodes’ plots involve evading the authorities. There is some idealisation of this living manner, making poverty and criminality become the norm while somewhat antagonising other classes. (In Series 1, Steve’s middle-class status was often the subject of adverse comment.)


Series one of Shameless included seven episodes, and aired between 13 January and 24 February, 2004. Such was the popularity of the first series that the third was commissioned at the same time as the second. A Christmas special aired December 23, 2004. The second series began January 4, 2005, and finished March 8, after ten episodes. A New Year Special aired January 3, 2006. The third series began the following week on January 10 and concluded on February 21, after airing 7 episodes. With effect from the second episode onwards, each episode was premiered on the partner channel to Channel 4, E4, each Tuesday evening following the Channel 4 episode. Shameless returned for a fourth series on January 9, 2007 and aired until February 27, with a total of eight episodes. The fifth series began on January 1, 2008, and ran for sixteen episodes, airing through to April 15, 2008.
In March 2008 Rebecca Ryan who plays Debbie Gallagher in the show announced filming on a sixth series would begin in April.


The role of Frank was originally given to Sean Gallagher, but then it was thought he was too young to play the character. It cost makers Company Pictures £100,000 to re-shoot the scenes already filmed with David Threlfall as a replacement. In 2007, it was revealed that Matt Lucas and Bill Nighy asked for cameo parts in Shameless, but creator, Paul Abbott said the show would lose its realistic charms if they brought in celebrities to play parts.

Further reading

  • Queer Attachments: The Cultural Politics of Shame


External links

shameless in French: Shameless (série télévisée)
shameless in Dutch: Shameless
shameless in Portuguese: Shameless
shameless in Simple English: Shameless

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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