Karen Bryson as Avril Powell

Karen Bryson as Avril Powell

Monday was a big day for Channel 4’s, Shameless, as not only did it mark the release of the eighth series boxset, but the start of season nine.

Season 8 of the critically acclaimed show did not disappoint, as in true Shameless fashion it was full of drama, comedy, emotion and shock. But the offbeat drama did have a pivotal change this time around: a new family moved on to the Chatsworth Estate.

The Gallaghers and The Maguires were joined by the equally dysfunctional Powell family, which is made up of fiery housewife, Avril, husband and newly-qualified teacher, Jackson Powell, and their ‘thick’ teenage daughter, Letitia.

We spoke to Karen Bryson who plays Avril Powell, to find out what it was like to become part of the multi award-winning show and what fans can look forward to in the new series.  

What is season nine all about and in what way is it different from season eight?

“What’s interesting about series nine, as opposed to series eight, is that you really do get into the people’s heads a bit more"

“What’s interesting about series nine, as opposed to series eight, is that you really do get into the people’s heads a bit more. It’s still going to be funny with that dark comedy element to it…but I think in this series you do delve into the characters a bit more and see their insecurities.”

What can we expect from the Powell family specifically?

“We saw in episode one that Avril and Jackson have a crack in their relationship whereas in season eight, we saw Jackson going off to do his teacher training which was great. Now there’s this whole thing where Avril’s set up a graduation party and Jackson doesn’t show up and so she’s probably been secretly insecure about him doing his own thing, even though she wants the best for her family and for her husband. She’s got those things in her head of ‘do you think you can be better than me?’ and ‘are you going to leave me for your nice, posh mates?’”

Will things be resolved then?

“I don’t want to spoil too much, but they are the couple on the estate who have been married a long, long time… They still fancy each other (we see them at it after 16 years of marriage), still argue and she wears the pants in the house and he’s accepted that…so fingers crossed they will resolve it. They’re fighters and that’s what I love about the Powells.”


You’re a self-confessed fan of the show and took on the role of a doctor in season 5. Did you ever think you’d ever end up playing a main part?

“No… When I got the call off them saying they wanted to see me for it I was like ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God’ in shock. Then when I got the call off my agent telling me  I’d got the part, I’d just come out of the tube station and I swear to you, I SCREAMED and someone asked me if I was alright!”

“Before my first day I went up and they took me on a tour around the studio and I honestly thought I was going to be sick with excitement; I was completely star-struck."

Do you enjoy playing the fiery and slightly aggressive character that is Avril?

I love her! One thing about Avril is that she says what she thinks, unlike me, Karen, who for many years has kept it all inside when someone has really done my head in. I wish I could’ve been as direct as Avril is and that is why I absolutely love playing her. What you see is with Avril is what you get; if she doesn’t like it then BOOM, she’ll tell you.

You’ve already starred in a long list of things including other television programmes such as Bodies and Silent Witness, and you were doing theatre work at Shakespeare’s Globe right before you started on Shameless. Is there anything else you’d like to be involved in in the future?

My ultimate would be to play a kind of character that’s a cross between Luther and DCI Jane Tennison [Helen Mirren’s role in Prime Suspect], but that would be way, way in the future… I’d like my role to be a tough cop. Right now though, I’m having a ball discovering who Avril is and the dynamics of her family and the estate. I’ve worked a long time in this business and I’ve never worked on a show that’s as nuts. I’m enjoying it!”

Finishing on a Shameless note; it’s been running for nine series which is quite a long time for a show, and it celebrated its 100th episode during series eight. Will there be any more seasons after this one then or is it going to draw to a close?

“I think there’s still life on the Chatsworth…as long as they keep the characters rich. Fingers crossed that it will carry on because I would absolutely love it!”

“I’d love the viewers to keep watching and I’d actually like to thank them so much for their support. Fans have been writing to me and it’s so lovely to hear what people who I don’t know me think about the show and my family/character. So I would just like to say thank you guys for staying die-hard Shameless fans.”

The Shameless Series 8 and Shameless Series 1-8 boxsets are available to buy now.


Sophie Burluraux