1 9 8 3 (UK)
6 x 50/55 minute episodes
An uneasy Hackney-based hybrid between West Side Story and Tucker’s Luck, this six-part BBC series presented the surprisingly eventful story of Johnny Jarvis (Mark Farmer), a young East End lad growing up in the early years of Thatcher‘s Britain, told from the perspective of his best friend Alan Lipton (Ian Sears).
Episodes follow their relationship from its beginnings in 1977 – when introverted Alan makes it his mission to befriend class clown, Johnny – through their final year at school, exams and into early adulthood, ending up in 1983.
Jake (Maurice Colbourne), is Alan’s mysterious father, and Stella (Johanna Hargreaves) is the purple-haired love interest of both lads.
Their relationships are set against classic British eighties themes such as unemployment, racism, drugs, gang violence, and Alan’s growing lack of compassion for those around him.
Jarvis is ultimately left poverty-stricken and relatively friendless, whilst Lipton blossoms from a bookish character into a popular New Wave performer in a band, with the lyrics of his songs based on Johnny’s downward spiral and terrible existence.
The storyline also had an almost surreal tangential subplot concerning a mysterious drug peddler known as “The Colonel” (Nick Stringer) holding Lipton to ransom in his mother’s tower block council flat.
Rev. David Sales