Geordie MacTaggart (played by Paul Young as a child and Bill Travers as an adult) spends his Highland childhood – most of it in the company of his childhood sweetheart, Jean Donaldson (Norah Gorsen, a cockney by birth struggling here with the required Highland burr) – regretting he is so small. But after secretly enrolling in Professor Sampson’s Physical Culture bodybuilding course by correspondence, his prowess as an athlete becomes astonishing.
When he displays a talent for hammer-throwing – and with encouragement from the dotty owner of the estate where Geordie works as a gamekeeper (Alastair Sim), who has a crotchety exterior and a heart of gold – he is selected to represent Great Britain in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.
Geordie’s journey to the Antipodes is beset by terrible homesickness, but then he meets Helga (Doris Goddard), an equally tall Scandinavian shot-putter. The naive Georgie blunders into a romantic relationship of sorts with her.
Once in Australia, Geordie causes a sensation by using his great strength to rescue a man trapped in a car accident and he becomes a hero overnight with photographs of him and Helga wired around the world. Of course, they are seen in his home village as well.
The Olympic hammer final finds Geordie (after much heated debate) allowed against convention to wear his father’s kilt, but struggling to perform until he finally manages to find the inner peace that he enjoys at home in the glen, and he hears in his mind the immortal words, “Come away, ma wee Geordie!”
Geordie wins the gold medal with his final throw and falls into the considerable arms of Helga.
The reception awaiting Geordie on his return to the Highlands is surprisingly muted as everybody has heard of his victory clinch with Helga through the wireless. But our new champion finds Jean and explains to her that the Olympic medal means little to him compared to her and his glen and that he’ll never leave it or her again.
Francis De Wolff is wonderful in a small part as Professor Henry Sampson.
This wonderful low-key comedy – beautifully photographed against a Scottish landscape of hills, streams and glens – was released in some markets as Wee Geordie.
Professor Henry Sampson
Francis De Wolff
Harley (Olympic selector)
Rawlins (Olympic selector)