1 9 7 6 – 1 9 7 8 (UK)
26 x 30 minute episodes
This definitive remake of the adventures of Richmal Crompton’s 1920s high-spirited tearaway schoolboy horror was a thundering success with children and parents alike.
Scruffy, crafty, but utterly likeable, Adrian Dannatt starred as William who, along with his gang, The Outlaws – Ginger (Michael McVey), Henry (Craig McFarlane) and Douglas (Tim Rose) – was the bane of parents everywhere.
Mischievous William couldn’t help but be an engaging character, set against the stultifying, self-satisfied dullness of his middle-England family – his banker father (Hugh Cross), terribly reasonable mother (Diana Fairfax), desperately aspirational older sister Ethel (Stacy Dorning) and pompous ladies’ man brother Robert (Simon Chandler).
The comic misunderstandings among the Browns were entertaining enough, but the series really took off after episode four, which introduced the ‘aitch-dropping nouveau riche Bott family.
Mr Bott had made his money from Bott’s Digestive Sauce and moved into the grand Manor Hall in the village.
Only one thing was guaranteed to turn William in his tracks: The Bott’s ghastly daughter Violet Elizabeth (Bonnie Langford, pictured) in her ginger ringlets, whose masterplan, should William not give in to her demands, was to “thcweam and thcweam until I’m thick”.
The Sunday teatime series from LWT featured a high calibre of guest stars, including Diana Dors, Geoffrey Bayldon, Freddie Jones, Julian Fellowes and Nigel Hawthorne.
The series was remade in 1994 with Oliver Rokison as William and Tiffany Griffiths as Violet Elizabeth, and again for a short-lived series in 2010 with Daniel Roche in the title role.
Violet Elizabeth Bott