SHAMELESS returned to our screens for a much-anticipated sixth series this week.

Millions of viewers tuned in to catch up on the latest antics of the outrageous Gallagher family and their associates in the award-winning series based on creator Paul Abbott's upbringing in Burnley.

We got the gossip from Samantha Siddall, who plays Mandy Maguire.

AS Shameless's Mandy Maguire, Stockport-born actress Samantha Siddall never has a boring day at the office.

“It's great playing Mandy,” said the 25-year-old.

“She's individual and the only one of the Maguires who's relatively normal. She's feisty and fights for what she believes in. It's exciting to play someone like that — much more interesting than playing someone meek and mild.”

Samantha, who graduated from a performing arts degree course at Salford University and landed the job in Shameless three weeks later, has been in the show since series one.

As the long-term girlfriend of Lip Gallagher, her character Mandy is mother to Katie and often the voice of reason within her criminal household.

Despite being single since Lip left, Mandy's love life picks up in this new series, Samantha revealed.

“There's a new love interest on the scene who seems very charming but he might not be all he's cracked up to be,” she said.

"Mandy is also moving out and into the Jockey, so there's some quite interesting things happening to her.”

Samantha enjoyed reuniting with her Shameless buddies for filming.

“Filming for series six was great,” she said. "I've been doing it for five years and so by now we're like a big family. Filming for Shameless isn't really like a job. It's more like seeing your mates and family. We all stay in touch after the series has been filmed.

“I'm really good mates with Rebecca Atkinson, who plays Karen Maguire. She started before me and took me under her wing a bit as this was my first proper job. And I'm planning on going down to Jody Latham's new bar in Barrowford soon.”

Apart from a few obvious differences, Samantha admitted she's not a million miles away from the character.

“Oh God yeah, we have loads of similarities,” she said.

“I never believe actors who say they're nothing like their character because you have to put part of yourself into a role. I'm similar to Mandy in a few ways. I mean, I don't deal drugs from a baby's pram or anything, but I am quite feisty like her.

“It's fun getting dressed up as Mandy, too. Some of the clothes are not something I would wear at all, but some of the things are actually quite cool. I've been known to smuggle some of the more quirky items off set.”

Shameless was famously inspired by creator Paul Abbot's own upbringing.

Abbot grew-up on a council estate in Burnley as one of nine children. His mother left home when he was nine and his father departed two years later, leaving Paul's eldest sister in charge.

At 20, Paul sold his first radio play, joined the Coronation Street writing team three years later and went on to write other top TV dramas like Cracker, Linda Green and Clocking Off.

Samantha says she isn't surprised at how huge the series has become (It won a BAFTA in 2005 and HBO is to remake a version of the show for US audiences).

“I knew when I got the part that it would be big,” she said. “Paul Abbot was a well thought-of writer before Shameless — everything he writes turns to gold.

“But in terms of the Maguire family, nobody expected them to be so popular. It used to be all about the Gallaghers but now it's opened up to the whole estate, so I'm pleased about that because it's nice to have a lot to do in the show”

The characters live on the fictional Chatsworth Estate, a council estate in Stretford, Greater Manchester. Originally the show was filmed on location on a council estate in West Gorton. From series five onwards the show has been filmed from a purpose-built set on the Roundthorn Industrial Estate in South Manchester, on the site of an old Kodak warehouse.

Samantha said that although the plotlines in Shameless are far-fetched, they're probably tamer than real life.

“I grew up down the road literally from the estate we used to film on and I went to a normal high school and knew lots of people who lived on estates like that,” said Samantha.

“I used to think the things that happened in Shameless were exaggerated and a bit over-the-top but people are always coming up to me saying 'that's exactly happened where I live' so I think it's actually pretty true to life. One guy said he knew someone who actually faked his own death like Frank did to get out of his debts.”

Samantha's favourite Shameless moment involves two of the show's best-loved former characters, James McAvoy and Anne-Marie Duff.

“The scene where Steve was leaving was one of the biggest tear-jerkers in drama, I think. It was such a special touching moment that summed up everything Shameless is for me.”

l Catch Samantha Siddall in Shameless on Tuesdays, 10pm, Channel 4.