14-year-old Alan Duckworth (John Albasiny) dreams of kissing classmate Ann (Abigail Cruttenden) but soon realises that life seldom lives up to one’s dreams.
This nostalgic story of adolescent love in the late 1940s was written by the celebrated Jack Rosenthal and drew on his childhood memories.
Transmitted on Channel 4’s second night (3 November 1982) to enthusiastic reviews, it followed schoolboy Alan as he dreamed of England winning the Ashes and of beautiful classmate Ann.
P’Tang, Yang, Kipperbang (the title stems from an invented expression which the boys use as a coded greeting and catchphrase) is a humorous drama, faithfully representing a postwar schoolboy’s existence.
There are some fine performances, particularly from Alison Steadman as a frustrated, strict schoolteacher, and the young players admirably convey the confusion, naivety, and sweaty-palmed awkwardness of adolescence.
The film leans towards sentimentality, however, and the coming-of-age message, suggesting inevitable disillusionment with one’s dreams, seems more depressing than poignant.
The device of John Arlot’s voiceover cricket commentary, reflecting Alan’s hopes and moods, feels contrived, despite the suggestion of adolescent imagination.
For all that, there are many praiseworthy comic moments, and the film commendably depicts a school’s eccentricities.
The classroom and rehearsal scenes are well observed, and the late 1940s setting successfully captured, with plenty of engaging period detail.
When the film was finally released in cinemas (after its television appearance), critics, perhaps unsurprisingly, found it had suffered in translation to the big screen.