Director and actor Kevin Smith is fulfilling a life-long ambition by starring in cult Canadian drama DEGRASSI HIGH.

The New Jersey-born star has been obsessed with the TV series since it began in 1986 and after pestering producers for years, he has finally been signed to appear in three episodes of DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION.

The Mallrats film-maker will play himself in the show, but he explains, "I tread lightly on this subject, because it gets me in trouble with my wife.

"In this version, everything about me is roughly the same - I'm Kevin Smith and I've made the same movies, but I never got married and I don't have a kid."

In the episodes, Smith will attempt to romance STACIE MISTYSYN's character CAITLIN RYAN.

Smith enthuses, "When I was working at the Quick Stop (New Jersey convenience store), they used to run Degrassi Sunday morning at 11 on PBS. The first time I watched it I was like 'Oh my God, this is insanely melodramatic!' And by the end of the episode, I was weeping."

Smith has included references to Degrassi in many of his movies; in his 1994 film debut Clerks he named Lisa Spoonhauer's character after Caitlin, followed by 1995 hit Mallrats, in which Shannen Doherty wore a Degrassi jacket in her role as RENE.

In 1997's Chasing Amy, Jason Lee's character decides to stay home and eat pizza in front of Degrassi when chatting to Ben Affleck.

21/10/2004 17:28