Gordon Flemyng (director)
Network on Air (studio)
256 min (length)
28 September 2020 (released)
03 October 2020
This gritty yet compelling drama-series from 1983 stars David Morrissey and Spencer Leigh as two Liverpool teenagers who decide on running away to Wales to escape their broken homes.
Billy Rizley (David Morrissey) and Icky (Spencer Leigh) are two teenage friends who seem to attract trouble wherever they go – perhaps not exactly surprising considering their deprived upbringing and troubled family lives. Both are juvenile delinquents, with Billy already on probation for minor crimes. In addition, dimwit Icky has learning difficulties and both also have truanted from school for some considerable time. After a major blow-up at school and at home, the lads decide that enough is enough and – having stolen money which his Mum won at the Bingo – leave their rough environment and constant fights with local gangs behind. No sooner do they board a train when they run into trouble with the train conductor… not just because they travel further than their rail tickets permit but because they turn the carriage into a dumpster what with chocolate wrappers and other garbage on the floor. When the conductor threatens to have them arrested at the next station they boldly jump from the train whilst in motion! Relatively unhurt (a miracle that!) they set out to find the very place Billy had happy memories of during a school trip years earlier. But he cannot find the spot and soon they are forced to wander through the Welsh countryside (even stealing a tractor). In a poignant but also disturbing scene they find a birds-nest on the ground and Icky – in a charitable mood – feeds the chicks with a Mars bar, naively assuming it would do them good. When a cub pack and their Akela leader, who happen to pass by, discover the chicks dead the Akela reprimands Icky for what he has done – none of the boys understand why it should be such a big deal as they were “only birds”. Wandering on, they reach a secluded farm and sneak into the adjoining barn but are soon discovered when Icky screams in fear over an apparent rat he’s spotted in the straw and Billy almost managing to burn the barn down after having lit a cigarette. Luckily, the farmer and his wife invite the starved boys for a bite to eat and a warm bed for the night. Just when they thought they are in luck when a police car appears in the driveway and Billy and Icky are forced to go on the run again… when they come across an old and remote cottage…
Assuming the cottage is deserted, the two friends hope to finally have found a roof over their heads when the figure of a young man appears on the staircase. The man in question is Kidder (James Hazeldine), an artist who seems to keep to himself and lives like a hermit – as we are to find out much later there’s a reason for it. After initial hiccups involving broken plates and the boys stealing plates from a neighbouring farmhouse (not realising the owners are friends of Kidder) to ‘make up’ for the damage, their host allows the lads to stay in exchange for domestic chores. When the house walls of Kidder’s cottage are vandalised by three locals with whom he had an earlier altercation in a pub, a fight between the yobs and the teenagers breaks out during which Billly ends up with a cut hand. As a ‘thank you’ for their apparent loyalty (even though Icky is tempted to steal cash he finds in a moneybox) Kidder even makes it his mission to teach Icky how to read and write (albeit with little success). Although all seems idyllic, fresh trouble is a-brewing when Icky – out on his own – discovers the boys from his school at the camp side which Billy had looked for earlier in vain. In another act of thoughtless stupidity Icky invites the boys – including perennial troublemaker ‘Rabbit’ (Ian Davies) – back to Kidder’s cottage and things soon get trashed when everyone runs riot in a drunken stupor. Among the damage is a framed photo of a boy on Kidders’ book-shelve (the significance of the picture will be revealed in a later scene). ‘Rabbit’ discovers the moneybox in Kidders’ bedroom and does a runner with his mates while Icky falls asleep drunk on the couch. When Billy, who had looked after Kidder’s stall at the local art fair, returns and realises what has happened he angrily forces Icky to go with him after Rabbit to retrieve the stolen money. After some explanation Kidder – who didn’t even appear to know that money was missing – forgives them and for a while things return to harmony. Billy is romantically pursued by a middle-class girl named Jo (Jane West) and Kidder busies himself drawing two story books titled ‘One Summer’ both for Billy and Icky as presents.
Icky, however, grows increasingly restless, especially when he senses that his best mate seems occupied with his new love interest. Stealing some of the cash from Kidders’ moneybox he returns to Liverpool on his own but soon falls in with the usual bad crowd from his school which includes the obnoxious ‘Rabbit’. After a car theft and yet another conflict with a rival gang Icky, pursued by the police, decides to drive back to Wales when disaster strikes… leading up to the shocking climax and twist ending…
This timeless drama cleverly deals with topics such as class divide, social injustice, prejudice and the consequences of juvenile delinquency brought upon by harsh social and domestic circumstances. Although writer Willy Russell was initially unhappy with the casting of Morrissey and Leigh due to their age – deeming them slightly too old to portray 16-year olds – both actors are convincing and do a stellar job though admittedly the pronounced Liverpudlian accent (both actors were born in Liverpool) isn’t always easy to understand. In the case of David Morrissey the ‘Scouse accent’ seems poles apart from his current TV-appearance as suave and scheming upper class businessman Walter Blackett in SINGAPORE GRIP or his utterly chilling (and utterly accent-free) portrayal of the sociopathic ‘Governor’ in THE WALKING DEAD hit-series.
ONE SUMMER is presented as a brand-new High Definition re-master in Blu-ray format and can be ordered via the Network on Air website.
Special Feature: Alternate scenes filmed for pre-watershed transmission.