Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Citizen Smith (1977-80)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Synopsis of the episode 'Rebel without a Pause', tx.8/12/1978

Wolfie Smith's girlfriend Shirley arrives at her parents' home to discover that Wolfie has filled the living room with placards for a demonstration. Shirley's mother, Florence, tells her that her father, Charlie, wants to go to Spain for a second honeymoon, despite being on the verge of losing his job as head of security at a factory. Charlie comes home to find the placards and isn't happy; Wolfie enters and mocks Charlie for losing his job.

After the demonstration, Wolfie and Shirley are at Marx's grave in Highgate cemetery. Wolfie explains to Shirley his humiliation at being caught up in a Gay Liberation Front demonstration by mistake, instead of his own. He bemoans the fact that the masses have spurned him as a leader. Shirley suggests that they might take him more seriously if he was married, but he decides instead that he will find a new cause: fighting for Charlie's job.

Outside Charlie's workplace, Wolfie and fellow Tooting Popular Front member Ken handcuff themselves to the railings and shout abuse at workmen entering the factory. Meanwhile, as Charlie is trying to persuade Florence to go to Spain with him, Shirley tells him that Wolfie is fighting for his job. Charlie reveals that he has a new, better job and that he has taken a voluntary redundancy package of £6,000.

Shirley and Charlie go to the factory, where Wolfie and Ken are still chained to the railings. Charlie shows Wolfie a telegram saying that he's been reinstated, but in a factory six miles away: the factory Wolfie and Ken are protesting outside is closed, and the workmen they've seen are demolition workers. Furious at losing his redundancy money and in possession of the keys to the handcuffs, Charlie leaves Wolfie and Ken chained to the railings.

When Shirley and Charlie return to the factory later to free the pair, they discover that the railings have already been demolished and are on their way to be smelted in Birmingham. On the back of a lorry travelling up the motorway, Wolfie and Ken are still chained to the railings, singing 'We shall not be moved'.