Saturday, 6 June 2015

156 Carrie's War

First  watched :  Monday  28  January  1974

I'm   now  reaching  a  stage  where  these  serials  are  starting  to  emerge   in  sharper  clarity   through  the  murk , able  to  recall  plot  details  and  scenes   ( though  not  always  accurately  as  we'll  see )  unaided.  Carrie's  War  stands  out  as  the  archetypal   ( not  quite  the  most  memorable ) serial  from  that  period  where  we  had  tea on  a  tray  in  the  living  room.

Carrie's  War  is  perhaps  the  best  known  novel  by  the  prolific  children's  author  Nina  Bawden  who  died  nearly  three  years  ago. It  was  based  to  some  extent  on  her  own  experiences  as  an evacuee  in  rural  Wales  during  the  Second  World  War. Carrie  is  12  and  sent  with  her brother  Nick  to  a  remote  village  where  they  end  up  living  in  a  shop  run  by  a  cold, ultra-strict  miser  Mr  Evans  and  his  submissive  sister  Auntie  Lou. Another  sister  Mrs  Gotobed  lives  on  a  farm  with  a  disabled  relative  Mr  Johnny, a  benign  witch  Hepzibah  and  now  a  fellow  evacuee  Albert  Sandwich ( who  is  what  we  would  now  call  a  geek )  and  that  quickly  becomes  a  refuge  from  Evans's  austere  regime.  My  mum  used  to  come  in  and  watch  it  with  us  because  she'd  been  evacuated  from  Manchester  to  Blackburn.

It  was  compelling  because  it  put  the  children  in  a  strange  situation, uncertain  of  what  the  future  held  and  subject  to  the  whims  of  a  scary  figure  though  there  are  thankfully  no  hints  of  sexual  abuse  in  the  story.  The  story  reaches  its  climax  with  a  death  and  a  genuinely  spooky  scene  with  apparent  grave  consequences.

Until  a  year  ago  I  had  carried  a  memory  of  one  of  the  last  scenes  when  the  children  leave  by  train ,  Mr  Evans  waves  them  off  then  folds   up  with  grief   that  they've  gone  out  of  his  life. Then  I  watched  it  again  on  YouTube  and  it's  not  there. Aubrey  Richards  nicely  underplays  the  scene  , walking  away,  hunched  and  diminished,  while  the  train's  still  at  the  platform. I've  remembered  the  scene's  emotional  impact  accurately  but  perhaps  got  the  details  mixed  up  with  something  else.

Perhaps  inevitably  the  young  actors  didn't  become  stars. Juliet  Waley  ( Carrie )  did  move  into  adult  roles  as  an  actress,  notably  in  nursing  soap  Angels  where  she  had  a  three  year  run,   but  after  appearing  in  the  BBC's  adaptation  of  The  Lion  The  Witch  And  The  Wardrobe   in  1988  she  just  vanished. Andrew  Tinney  who  played  Nick  had  a  minor  part  in  The  Pallisers  that  same  year  but  ended  up  an  accountant  instead. Tim  Coward  who  played  Albert  is  known  for  this  alone.

Another  adaptation  was  made  in  2004   with  Alun  Armstrong  as  Evans  and  there  was  a  successful  stage  production  in  2009.

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