1 9 8 6 (UK)
6 x 25 minute episodes
This children’s drama from the BBC premiered on 12 March 1986 and was produced by the team responsible for the marvellous Box of Delights.
The six episodes told the tale of a wealthy and powerful group of people in Victorian London brought to justice by the courage of 13-year-old chimney sweep’s boy Absalom “Barnacle” Brown (Courtney Roper-Knight), who accidentally overhears a conspiracy plot.
Pursued by the powerfully sinister and malevolent Inspector Creaker (Ian Hogg), Barnacle runs away to the safety of a barge on the River Thames – called The Lady – with kindly Cockney skipper Tom Gosling (played by Liverpudlian actor Tony Haygarth).
The young sweep slowly adapts to his life on the river and meets Mrs McDipper (Judy Cornwell), the captain/mistress of a rival barge called the Medway Queen – who is genteel ashore but quite the opposite afloat – and her daughter, Miranda (Cathy Murphy) who is the same age as him.
They are all in danger from Creaker’s band of men, skulking around the docks when a foreign ship, The December Rose, arrives.
The feverish action rises to the highest pitch as the vessel’s secret is revealed, and Barnacle, with his brave companions, triumphs over evil.
Based on a book by children’s author Leon Garfield, The December Rose boasted a gallery of unforgettable, almost Dickensian characters. Location filming took place around King’s Lynn in Norfolk, at Gloucester Docks and in Leeds and Hull in Yorkshire.
The series was broadcast in the US in two parts on Wonderworks in 1987.
Absalom “Barnacle” Brown
Mrs Clara McDipper
Child of Darkness | The Queen & the Lady | The Watcher | What Can the Matter Be? | The Black Eagle | The Last Birthday