One Summer, Channel 2, 8.55pm

If the Liverpool in One Summer is at all close to the real Liverpool of 1984, and I have a suspicion that, for many, it is frighteningly close, I'd rather miss the next ferry 'cross the Mersey. Things there look awfully grim.

The first episode of this five part series is set exclusively in that bleak English industrial city but the chief concern of its two characters is escape: from the misery of their home lives, the farce they know as school, the wasteland of the streets and estates and the ever-present threat of violence.

They are classic examples of the British youth that inspired the Sex Pistol's song 'No Future'.

However the kids do have a past. Mostly it is one of truancy, petty crime, vagrancy, broken homes, unemployed mothers and unmarried sisters with screaming infants. But for Billy, a far more important part of that past was a school trip to Wales as a child.

With time and increased despondency, the camping trip to Wales comes to assume far grander proportions in the young man's mind: another world and an alternative to the dead-end unhappiness of Liverpool. He shares his glimpse of hope with protégé Icky, and together they head off. They don't exactly know where they're headed but with the money Billy steals from him neurotically morose mother, tickets to 'somewhere in Wales" are all they're interested in.

Says Billy to his understudy: "What would your mum say if you just disappeared?" Replies Icky: "There's 10 of us in our family - it'd be three months before she realised I was missing."

Written by Willy Russell who authored the play and film Educating Rita, One Summer is very real. It doesn't romanticise the hard-as-nails lives of these kids and it doesn't celebrate their misery either.

It is a warts-and-all look at escapism through the eyes of a good portion of British youth and a grim reminder to many of us just how luck we are. It is also well acted and quick-paced, but the strong Liverpudlian accents make the dialogue a little hard to follow.

John Lethlean
The Melbourne Age
13th Sept 1984

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