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.