We Get to Know Local Actress Eve Austin, Star of BBC's This Town

Words: Oliver Parker
Photos: Stewart Bywater
Thursday 11 April 2024
reading time: min, words

Like many Nottingham born actors, Eve Austin came up through the esteemed Television Workshop: Nottingham’s very own drama school aimed at helping people of all ages develop their acting skills. She’s currently starring in six-part BBC series This Town and we caught up to hear about how she got into acting and the importance of opportunities for young working class people.

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Eve started acting at the age of eleven, and as she auditioned for her place at Television Workshop, she also auditioned for a role in a Shane Meadows commercial, which would go on to be her first official acting role. However, despite the longevity of her career, Eve doesn’t remember a deep passion for acting as a child, or any specific performances that spurred her to consider a similar artistic path; she does, however, say her mum tells her she was “always very keen on being famous.” 

Due to not being a family with much tradition in watching films or television, Eve mentioned she used to spend her time mostly hanging out with the boys ‘pretending to be a cadet’ – which we both agreed is definitely acting to some degree, and maybe subliminally led her down the path she’s on now. A path which has led to her acting in long running TV shows such as The Athena, feature films such as Our Ladies and also a role in the theatre, starring in Sophie Ellerby’s LIT. When discussing the differences between acting for the screen and for the stage, Eve mentioned that in theatre you have more control over your own acting and “you can feel immediately, what the audience are wanting particularly with comedy, whether they're receptive to it,” allowing for a unique style of acting from the screen.

Her new show This Town is a six-part miniseries for the BBC, about a group of young people navigating life in the West Midlands during the 1980s, specifically in the burgeoning scene of punk and ska music. The entirety of the show is written by Stephen Knight (Eastern Promises) who has used many of his personal experiences growing up as inspiration for the series and directed by Nottingham director Paul Whittington (White House Farm). The show looks at how this group of young people used music as an outlet to get through particularly hard times both economically – most come from different kinds of poverty – and socially, as they go through some of the toughest stages of growing up. 


Eve plays Jeannie, a central character who inspires the show’s main character Dante to begin making music: something that remains key to the entire show. To all the characters music is a form of escapism and Eve used her own upbringing, which was surrounded by her mum’s love of Reggae, as inspiration for her character. For Eve a big part of the process was learning about the rich cultural history of Ska and getting to learn the deeper cuts within the genre; she even talked about how the cast “made a Spotify playlist all together”,  which aided long days on set. 

You put that opportunity in any city, anywhere in the world, you would find very, very talented young people

This Town undeniably feels influenced by the youthful energy found in Shane Meadows’ This is England and for Eve, the entirety of Nottingham has certainly shaped her acting career, taking inspiration from fellow television workshop actors such as Samantha Morton (Movern Callar) and Vicky McClure (Line of Duty). Eve tells me that to her they were important because “they came from similar backgrounds, similar lives,” and felt like they represented something away from the more affluent drama schools which often leaves the acting world underrepresented in more working-class communities. 


She continues to talk about how their dedication to championing Nottingham is so important for younger people from the city to understand they too can actually make a career out of acting, especially given how precarious the industry can be, and how much things can fluctuate within it.  Of course on the back of this, we briefly spoke about the unavoidable looming danger of cuts and budget restrictions, alongside the damaging impact on not only Nottingham’s cultural scene, but the entire of the UK. Whilst Eve was at the Television Workshop it had already had its funding cut, relying on private investment from ITV. 


She spoke about how brilliant an opportunity the workshop was for working class people in Nottingham. “You put that opportunity in any city, anywhere in the world, you would find very, very talented young people” …A statement that is slowly becoming less common in the precarious world of arts funding. Fortunately it wasn’t all doom and gloom when it comes to film and TV production in the Midlands as Stephen Knight is opening up a new studio in Digbeth, Birmingham for new directors to use, helping to get more creative talent flowing into the area. We spoke how this is a great step in helping the film industries slow progression out of being completely dominated by London centricity and allow more opportunities for young people in Nottingham.

This Town is out now on BBC iPlayer.


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