The U.S version of the show may have enjoyed universal acclaim in the mould of the U.S Office compared to the original U.K version, but this is where it all began, on a council estate in Manchester.
Running from 2004 to 2013, the show was acclaimed by critics across the board, and won a number of awards such as the British Academy TV Awards, for which it won Best Drama.
Many of the show’s alumni are now (or were before) big names in British, as well as worldwide TV and cinema, and it is here that some of them got their start.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the cast of Shameless, and see what they are up to now.
Having graduated from the Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre, Threlfall – who played the role of Frank Gallagher – notched up a number of wide ranging TV and film credits since his acting debut in 1977. Among his roles were his turn as Edger in the 1983 Granada Television production of King Lear alongside Lawrence Olivier, and the role of Prince Charles in Diana: Her True Story in 1993.
In 2003, he landed the role for which he became famous in Britain, as the head of the dysfunctional Gallagher family. Talking to Metro in 2010, he described his character and said: “He does things I wouldn’t do,” he said. “He’s got a licence to do what other people think of doing. It’s not ideal to go round nutting your children, that violence shouldn’t be happening, but people understand he’s a lost soul and we all have that at some point in our lives.
“He’s searching for love and satisfaction in his life and we all want that. He just does it in a chemically and alcoholically influenced way.”
While he was playing Frank on Shameless, Threlfall also enjoyed success on the big screen with parts in films such as Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Hot Fuzz, Nowhere Boy and a cameo in Alien Autopsy.
After Shameless, the 64-year-old continues to enjoy success on the small screen, having starring roles in shows such as The Ark, Code of a Killer, Ripper Street, and the TV biopic of Tommy Cooler, entitled Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This.
James McAvoy started his career in 1995 on the stage after graduating from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and was already enjoying a steady stream of good roles on TV and in film before landing the role of Steve McBride in Shameless in 2004, having had roles in TV shows such as the Bill in 1997, which was his first TV role, Band of Brothers in 2001, Foyle’s War in 2002, and in films such as Bollywood Queen, Swimming Pool and Bright Young Things.
In Shameless, he played Steve McBride, Fiona Gallagher’s boyfriend. Though a car thief in the show, he is often presented as a moral character, who dislikes the way Frank treats his children in the early years of the show, before Frank started to mellow as the years went on.
Though he was only in the show for 16 episodes, his profile was raised in Britain, and in the wider world of cinema his profile was raised even more so when he was cast in 2005 as Mr Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
His big breakthrough came when he was cast as in the Academy Award winning film The Last King of Scotland alongside Forrest Whittaker – who won the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Idi Armin.
Since then he hasn’t looked back, and with his roles in films such as the X Men franchise, Filth, Atonement, Atomic Blonde and his critically lauded performance in M Night Shyamalan’s Split, James has gone from humble beginnings in The Bill to one of the most successful and recognisable actors in the world today.
Before playing Sheila Jackson on Shameless, the third wife of Frank Gallagher, Maggie O’Neill got her start in front of the camera when she starred in Simply Red’s music video for Holding Back the Years. Her profile was raised when she made her Hollywood screen debut as she was cast in the 1988 film Gorillas in the Mist alongside Sigourney Weaver. This was after making her debut on the big screen in Mona Lisa, alongside Bob Hoskins, for which the late actor was nominated at the Oscars for Best Actor.
After playing Sheila Jackson in Shameless for 28 episodes, O’Neill maintained a healthy working schedule as an actress, and has appeared in shows such as Wild at Heart, New Tricks, Death in Paradise and EastEnders.
Maxine Peake first came to the attention of the British viewing public when she starred in Dinnerladies from 1998 to 2000, as well as appearing in Coronation Street and Jonathon Creek in 1999.
Maxine first joined Shameless in 2004 and played the role of Veronica Ball, Carol Fisher’s daughter.
She was a regular in Shameless from the first series to the third series and then after series three her character was a recurring guest during series 4, appearing overall in 27 episodes.
After Shameless, Maxine Peake has enjoyed many roles on television, as well as film roles in projects such as The Theory of Everything and The Falling. On the small screen, she has appeared in shows such as Silk, Black Mirror, and a number of Shakespeare adaptations such as Henry IV Parts I and II, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
She has also enjoyed success on stage as she has flexed her dramatic muscles, appearing in the lead role of Hamlet in 2014. On stage, she has also appeared in A Streetcar Named Desire, The Children’s Hour and How To Hold Your Breath.
Dean Lennox Kelly
Having trained at the esteemed Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Kelly is primarily known for his role as Kev Ball in Shameless, but he has enjoyed a successful career on TV. Before Shameless, he appeared in shows such as Impact, Boarder Cafe and Saving Grace. He also appeared in the cult masterpiece – and I do not use that word lightly – Mike Basset: England Manager.
After leaving Shameless when she show ended in 2013, he appeared in shows such as Silent Witness, Death in Paradise, and a recurring role in Jamestown.
Jody Latham played Phillip “Lip” Gallagher in Shameless, but before that he made his television debut on the show The Cops in 1998, and went on to appear in as Nelson Catchpole in the series Big Meg, Little Meg in 2000.
After Shameless, he appeared in ITV’s The Fixer, and has appeared in music videos for artists such as Tulisa and International One. Aside from returning to Shameless for the final series of Shameless, Jody has also appeared in EastEnders, Waterloo Road and took part in the 2009 series of Hell’s Kitchen. Most recently, he appeared multiple times in the show No Offence in 2017 as Aiden McGee.
He played Ian Gallagher – Frank’s third oldest son – on Shameless, and was one of the show’s original cast members. Though he is initially secretive regarding his sexuality, eventually the rest of the family, besides Frank, are aware of the fact that he is gay.
In 2009, Kearns spoke of having to do sex scenes, and described them as sometimes feeling a little bit awkward: “They’re awkward, those scenes. It’s hard when I do a scene with Ciaran. We normally go and have a few beers, and try to laugh about it. But you can’t really get rid of the awkwardness.
“It’s even worse when they bring in a character for a one-night stand. You’ve only just met this guy and you’re sitting there like ‘Hiya’, then the next minute you’re naked and the director’s telling you to push closer together.
“But you need a director to be like that. You need someone to be very technical.”
He was a main character on the show for 80 episodes from 2004 to 2010, and after he left the show, Kearns made appearances in shows such as Moving On, The Town, and a programme dedicated to the centenary of the First World War entitled Our World War. His film credits also include Looking for Eric and Trespass Against Us.
Best known for playing Karen Maguire from the show’s beginning in 2004 until the show’s end in 2013, Rebecca Atkinson also appeared in shows such as Life On Mars and Johnny Vegas’ Ideal. Before and during playing Karen on Shameless, she also appeared in shows such as Holby City, The Bill and Heartbeat.
She has had small roles in many shows, and after Shameless, she appeared in programmes such as Staff Room and recurring roles in Moving On and Doctors.
Rebecca Ryan began her acting career when she played Karen Collins in the 2003 TV Mini Series State of Play and Harry and Cosh. In 2004, she took on the role of Debbie Gallagher in Shameless at the age of 11.
Though she never had any formal training as an actor, she credits the time spent on the set of Shameless as a wonderful learning experience: “Just sitting there and watching them all used to be amazing — James McAvoy, Anne-Marie Duff, Maxine Peake, David Threlfall. It was just a masterclass for me, to sit there and watch all these incredible people. I learnt so much from them and made some great friends”
After she left Shameless in 2009, she appeared in Waterloo Road, Doctors and DCI Banks.
Born in Stockport, Cheshire, Anthony Flanagan was first besotted with acting when he saw a friend of his sister performing at RADA. But that came after a stretch of his life that he called “a very bad period” in which he took odd jobs after moving to London and even spent a brief time sleeping on the streets.
After a year unemployed following graduation from what is now the Manchester Metropolitan University, his first job as an actor was as the lead in the 2001/02 season of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He made his screen debut on TV when he appeared, in 2002, in Holby City. This was followed by appearances in shows such as Buried, Real Men and State of Play before joining the cast of Shameless in 2004, where he played Tony.
After he left Shameless in 2006, Flanagan continued to find steady work on TV as he appeared in shows such as Cracker, Doctor Who, Heroes and Villains and New Tricks.
Most recently, he appeared in the TV miniseries White Princess, and in 2018 will appear in Versailles and is currently filming the TV series The Terror.
Elliot and his twin brother Luke Tittensor first starred in Brookside before appearing as Carl Gallagher in the first series of Shameless.
However after his brother Luke left the show after the first series to take a role in Emmerdale, Elliot took over the role of Carl on his own, and overall appeared in 117 episodes was last seen on the show finale in 2013.
He also appeared as the lead in the Stone Roses love letter Spike Island, which came out in 2012, as well as roles in Moving On and in 2017’s Dunkirk, but he made the news more recently when he was involved in a car incident when he hit a pedestrian in an uninsured car. He was attacked by the father of the young man who he hit when Elliot was on his way to court. The young man ended up with permanent damage to his eyes following the incident.
After leaving Shameless at the end of the first series, Luke went on to play the role of Daz Eden in Emmerdale. He has also appeared in Waterloo Road in 2010 where he played gay pupil Connor.
Having also appeared in Casualty and The Body Farm, Luke was also in trouble with the law when he pleaded guilty to the charge of grievous bodily harm against an unnamed 16 year old in Rochdale, that left the victim with a fractured jaw. His Emmerdale contract was terminated in April 2009 due to his conviction, with his last appearance in the show occurring the same month. On 29 April 2009, Tittensor received a 9-month suspended jail sentence for the assault. He was also ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work and pay £1,000 compensation to the victim.
Joseph played the first Liam Gallagher (the youngest of the Gallagher family in Series One). It is believed that he is currently studying at college.