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Why must I be a teenager in love? Emma Pomfret discovers 'Lip' Gallagher is facing problems even he can't talk his way out of.

He finally lost his virginity in the last series of Shameless, but it looks like Chatsworth Estate's cheeky bright spark, Lip Gallagher, may have to ditch his newly acquired pulling pants after discovering that he is well on his way to becoming a teenage Dad.

"We already know that Lip has experienced the first step to becoming a young man and he's discovered what becoming a teenager is all about, shall we say - and we get a full insight in this series as there's a lot of casual sex and sleeping around!" laughs Jody Latham, who plays streetwise Philip, dubbed Lip because of his mouthy nature.

As well as Lip's abject horror at finding that there is more to life than casual sex, Paul Abbott's third series of Shameless also sees the littlest Gallagher Liam denouncing relig ion, Tourette's Syndrome-suffering Marty getting all loved up, and Sheila's valium-fuelled white wedding dream becoming so massive that even Frank can't ignore the event of the century.

In fact, the return of the outrageously dysfunctional Gallagher clan and their rabble of mentally challenged neighbours promises even more barely-controlled hysteria than ever before, according to Lancashire-born Jody.

"There are a few more headbutts involved - not just from men but off women as well - and this series will be as graphic, as hard, as fun, as loving and as touching as everybody expects from Shameless," he grins widely, making it clear that there is more than a touch of himself in Lip's cheeky chappy charm.

"There's this new love interest that goes tits up, horribly wrong, because the new girl has a brother who ends up going and sleeping with Ian (Lip's brother) - things start going missing from the house, no-one can work out what's happening and then the story unfolds from there," he says.

He admits he found some of the more explicit scenes a trial to do-not through embarrassment but because of the lengths he was required to go to to protect his modesty.

"They asked me to try a tiny little thong... and that was replaced with what I can only describe as a pinkish sock to put over my you-can-guess where. The problem was when I had to take it off - it hurt like hell."

Jody, who turned 24 on New Year's Day, reveals that there is further trauma for Lip when he has a daughter with Mandy Maguire, a member of Chatsworth Estate's hardest family, and definitely not the kind of people to be messed with.

"They won't let Lip see baby Katy, which is really tough on him because he wants to get involved with her life even though he still wants to enjoy himself - that really hits a nerve and it's a bit of a tear-jerking moment really, which is quite sweet," he explains.

"Then it becomes more apparent that he's not only interested in the baby - he's interested in possibly taking things further with Mandy and realises that he actually loves her."

Jody could feel a real emotional connection to these scenes as he also became a dad in his late teens and loves spending time with his four year old son Jack,

Since its debut on Channel 4 in 2004, award-winning Shameless has recruited an army of fiercely loyal fans. Although the third series will be sadly missing Anne-Marie Duff as matriarchal sister Fiona and James McAvoy as her roguish boyfriend Steve, Jody is confident that their absence will not diminish the show's huge popularity.

"Audience reactions are always good, they're always positive, which is great, and the show is still very consistent," Jody explains.

"At the end of the day it's not just down to the cast, it's an ensemble piece including the crew, the writers, the producers and everyone else - we've all got to chip in and as long as everyone is happy and the job is being done properly then the show will come across just as brilliantly as everyone says it is."

And while Jody's exceptionally intelligent character Lip is massive hit with Shameless viewers, it seems that the actor himself is a bit of star off-screen as well - especially when he goes out for a few drinks.

"Sometimes it can be a little bit scary when you're out drinking in the pub and everyone is in a relaxed mood, because then people feel like they have more of an opportunity to come and speak to me as they're in an open environment," he says.

"It can result in having quite a few people around you all asking questions and saying things like, 'Speak to my friend on the phone', 'Come over here and meet my friends' or 'Come and say hi to my bird who you've never met before' - and I'm like, 'No, I won't take my top off for your camera phone!'," Jody grins.

"It can be quite daunting but it's all part of the job - and I'm quite a pleasant person, I'm a chit-chatty sort of guy anyway so I just go along with it.

"You look around at your peers and friends who are also in the limelight, whether they be comedians, singers or actors, and watch how they deal with it then you learn to just go with the flow - and it always helps when you've got a couple of glasses of vino down your neck of course."

Shameless is on Channel 4 from tonight


Jody as the loquacious Lip
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 3, 2006
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