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One Summer (1983)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of One Summer (1983)
Channel 4, tx. 7/8 - 4/9/1983, 5 x 60 min episodes, colour
DirectorGordon Flemyng
Production CompanyYorkshire Television
ProducerKeith Richardson
Script (uncredited)Willy Russell
DesignerPeter Kindred
MusicAlan Parker

Cast: David Morrissey (Billy); Spencer Leigh (Icky); Ian Davies (Rabbit); James Hazeldine (Kidder)

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Two Liverpool schoolboys run away from home and briefly enjoy a new life in Wales before their past catches up with them.

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David Morrissey, Spencer Leigh and Ian Hart (here credited under his real surname of Davies) all made impressive television debuts in One Summer, one of Channel 4's first serials. It was filmed between April and October 1982 against a backdrop of the jingoist fervour surrounding the Falklands War; to a degree this is echoed in its story of turf warfare between rival schoolboy gangs that spills into a foreign land. Morrissey plays Billy, a tough but unhappy teenager who runs away from his troubles with his mother's bingo winnings, chasing the dream of a happy school holiday he once spent in Wales when he was twelve years old. He takes the weak-willed and clearly doomed Icky (Leigh) with him.

Contrasting urban despair with a regenerative view of the countryside, in Wales the duo are befriended by Kidder, an ex-teacher with a murky past and one of the few truly sympathetic adults the boys encounter. Kidder is also starting a new life, expressing himself through art as a means to deal with his inner demons. In one of the most tender moments, he gives the boys a book he has made, entitled 'One Summer', which narrates in words and pictures their time together in Wales.

Icky's fundamental weakness and lack of forethought signal the inevitable end to their bucolic idyll. Billy's sweet moments with his newfound girlfriend Jo are invariably intercut with disruptive scenes featuring Icky either trashing Kidder's house or joyriding. In a cruel juxtaposition towards the end we see Icky die in a horrible car crash while Jo and Billy make love by a riverbank. The fine performances and adroit direction by Gordon Flemying help paper over some unlikely plot contrivances, such as when Icky meets up with Rabbit (Hart) and his gang in Wales.

Writer Willy Russell had his name removed from the credits as he thought the lead actors were too old to play 16-year olds and that Kidder's Welsh retreat was overly glamorous. There is some truth in this, but as filmed the script still boasts a strong mytho-poetic resonance, for instance in the almost totemic role of Billy's knife which he eventually discards under Kidder's guidance but which in Rabbit's hands leads to death and destruction. The violent and abrupt ending is bleak, highly melodramatic and certainly cruel, though it also shows Billy taking his life in his hands and finally becoming responsible for it.

Sergio Angelini

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Video Clips
1. A to Z (3:30)
2. Coming home (4:25)
3. Harvest dance (4:18)
Complete fourth episode - Part 1 (15:17)
Part 2 (19:11)
Part 3 (15:33)
Hart, Ian (1964-)
Morrissey, David (1964-)
Russell, Willy (1947-)
Channel 4 Drama