1 9 8 4 (UK/Sweden)
3 x 55 minute episodes
18-year-old Londoner Pete Daniels (Jesse Birdsall) is an easy-going, unpretentious and down to earth lad who has a summer job on the Isle of Wight as a deckchair attendant-cum-barman with his mate, Alan (Vas Blackwood), where the two lads chase girls for a “bit of a leg over”.
Everything changes when he meets 15-year-old Swedish foreign language student, Annika (Christina Rignér), who arrives on the scene with her best friend Pia (Ann-Charlotte Stålhammar) and a couple of boys, Per (Birger Österberg) and Torbjörn (Anders Bongenhielm).
The two are immediately attracted to each other. He asks her out, and soon they have fallen in love. What follows is a 1980s Anglo-Swedish love story set against a backdrop of drinking, parties, fighting, youth unemployment and trying to make something of your life.
The three weeks they spend together are idyllic. It’s obvious from the start that Pete and Annika are a perfect match but they are away from their parents and other pressures – and what will happen when she has to go home?
When Annika and her friends leave, Pete decides to follow her back to Stockholm to continue their relationship – despite discouragement from Alan: “What do you want to go over to stupid Sweden for? To see a woman you don’t even know anything about. She’s not even a woman, she’s a girl. You’re stupid!”
Pete is naive about what to expect in Sweden. He hasn’t reckoned with the language issues and doesn’t realise how much trouble he will have finding a job. With very little money he becomes dependent on Annika, which puts a strain on their relationship.
The problems are further exacerbated by cultural differences and the fact that Pete is from a working-class background and she is from the liberal middle class, and he is clearly not as well educated as she is.
Although Pete eventually returns to England, he leaves Annika a letter explaining that his return is only temporary, to ‘sort himself out’, and that he aims to ‘keep her in the future’ – suggesting that he’ll be back for her, better and stronger than before.
The British tabloid media (the self-appointed guardians of the nation’s morality) worked themselves into a frenzy about scenes of under-age sex and nudity.
But for all the media hype at the time – and the comparisons of the differing British and Scandinavian attitudes to teenage sex – Annika was ultimately a tale of two teenagers falling in love and trying to make it work against all the odds but with an all-too-predictable outcome.
The music for the miniseries was composed by Roman Jugg of The Damned.