1 9 7 8 (UK)
3 x 30 minute episodes
Set in a Lancashire mining town in the 1930s – replete with terraced houses, flat caps, bicycle clips and a layer of sooty grime – The Hills of Heaven featured three working-class kids; Billy Walsh (David Haddow), Mick Mack (Malcolm Sproston) and the tomboyish Nancy ‘Spindle Legs’ Brindle (Katie Armstrong).
The three spend their days happily indulging in dares amongst the slag heaps, not realising the danger of such things until one day Mick sets off a line of parked coal trucks so that they are derailed and wrecked. Worse is to come when a tramp who had been sleeping in one of the trucks stumbles from the wreckage.
The canny tramp (Ray Smith) demands shelter, clothes and food or else he will tell the pit bobby who is responsible for the damaged trucks. With no choice but to meet his blackmail request, the children hide the tramp in an abandoned house in the middle of the old mine workings – but events take another turn for the worse when the house collapses due to subsidence.
The kids now face a dilemma – whether to alert the authorities to the tramp who is trapped down the mine and in need of rescue, or keep their mouths shut to avoid blame for the derailment.
This slight story – based on author John Farrimond’s own childhood experiences – fits the three-episode structure well.
The title referred to the low clouds the kids sometimes see over Southport, which to the children seems a world away.