A new drama throws an uncomfortable spotlight on the British drinking problem. Lucy Corry and Wil Marlow talk to one of its stars and also look at the effects of heavy drinking
"Everybody's been binge-drinking," says Nicola Stephenson, star of Channel 4's drinking drama Legless.
"Everyone my age has, definitely. Everyone's woken up on a Sunday morning feeling like they want to die," she laughs.
The 34-year-old is one of the cast of new drama Legless, from Cold Feet and Burn It writer Matt Greenhalgh, which tackles all sides of the argument on whether Britain's drinking culture has a problem or not.
Nicola's storyline looks at the positive sides of drinking. She plays Terri, a single girl who has grown tired of the routine of getting drunk at the weekend and occasionally waking up in bed with the wrong man.
On a night out she decides to refrain from the usual knocking back of booze, but then she meets a man she likes - and the only way she can pluck up the courage to speak to him is to have a glass of wine. What follows is a sweetly romantic tale.
But it's not all pro-drinking. We also see a local councillor in favour of the drinking law reforms head out on a night out with the chief of police, who is vehemently against longer drinking hours.
There's a paramedic who spends his night patching up the results of heavy drinking, lawyers on the Chardonnay, and two first time boozers having the night of their lives.
"Legless gives both sides of argument," says Nicola. "It shows different people using alcohol in different ways. This issue is everywhere at the moment. Everyone's thinking about how much they drink and how much the recommended amount is. That's why Matt wrote Legless - because alcohol's got such a bad name right now.
"What we do have to promote is responsible drinking, really, because there's no point just saying, 'It's bad, stop doing it' because I think that makes the problem worse, if people abstain and then binge. I think it's good to show that, used responsibly, alcohol can be enhancing in certain social situations."
Ultimately Legless is pro-reform. While some sections of the media may paint the new drinking laws as the advent of more drunken violence and chaos on our streets, both Nicola and Legless's creator Matt believe that, even now, this is just a small section of those that drink.
And if anything, they say, incidents of violence will be lessened by the fact that not everyone will be out on the streets gone 11 or gone two in the morning. As they witnessed themselves while filming Legless over weekends in various towns, most people are just out to have a good time.
"Something has to change because at the moment it doesn't work," says Nicola. "And I think our lives have become more 24 hours anyway. People are a bit scared of 24-hour drinking and being a bit reactionary to it.
"But it's not actually going to be people drinking 24 hours a day. Places will be able to stay open until what time they want and therefore chucking out time will be staggered. All the fights for taxis, and all these drunk people being in one concentrated area of town at the same time, that won't happen any more.
"It will get rid of so much trouble on the streets."
* Legless is on Channel 4 on Sunday October 30.