Tuesday, 4 July 2017

727 The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole

First  viewed : September  1985

I  missed  out  on  the  Mole  phenomenon  initially  but  it  was  brought  to  my  door  in  an  unwelcome  way  in  the  summer  of  1984  when  I  unwisely  showed  parts  of  my  novel-in-progress  to  a  few  house  mates  at  university. A  friend  called  Giles  Tulk  immediately  said  it  reminded  him  of  Adrian  Mole. He  didn't  mean it  unkindly; he  just  assumed  I  was  writing  a  satire  in  that  style. The  problem was  the  story  was  a  science  fiction  wish  fulfilment  fantasy  where  I  came  out  on  top  after  an  apocalypse  and  it  was  meant  to  be  serious. What Giles  had  picked  up  on  was  the  authorial  voice  and  to  be  honest  he  was  bang  on  the  money. I  might  have  been  19  at  the  time  but  I  was  still  lionising  my  early  teens  and  hadn't  got  out  of  that  mindset.

The  novel  was  shelved  there  and  then ( though  I've  probably  still  got  those  early  chapters  in  a  drawer  somewhere ). That  was  undoubtedly  a  good  thing  and  helped  me  grow  up  a  bit  but  I  still  bore  Sue  Townsend  something  of  a  grudge. She  had  revealed  to  me  that  feelings  and  perspectives  I  thought  made  me  special  and  unique  were actually  commonplace  to  adolescents  and,  much  worse, ripe  for  mockery.

The  pain  had  subsided  a  bit  by  the  time  it  came  to  TV  and  I  watched  a  little  of  it  ( likely  just  one  episode )  out  of  reluctant  curiosity. ITV's  schedulers  had  some  difficulty  placing  it; there  was  an  obvious  appeal  to  youngsters  and  yet  with  Adrian  measuring  his  "thing"  and  feeling  for  girlfriend  Pandora's  boobs  it couldn't  be  on  too  early  so  they  settled  on  a  mid-evening  slot. Newcomers  Gian  Sammarco  and  Lindsy  Stagg  played  the  youngsters. Julie  Walters  played  Mum  ( replaced  in  the  follow-up  series The  Growing  Pains  of  Adrian  Mole  by  Lulu ), Beryl " I say  "fuck "  on  chat  shows  and  get  away  with  it  because  I'm  old" Reid  played  Grandma  and  Stephen  Moore  played  Dad,  a  role  he  effectively  reprised  for  Harry  Enfield  the  following  decade. Coronation  Street's  Chris  Gascoyne  made  an  early  appearance  as  the  school  bully.

Townsend  went  on  to  write  six  more  Mole  novels  but  ITV  left  it  at  the  two  series  in  1987  and  he  seems  to  have  fallen  out  of  fashion. Neither  of  the  youngsters  still  act. Sammarco  called  it  a  day  in  1990  and re-trained  as  a  nurse. The  impressively  curvy  Stagg  quit  acting  immediately  after  the  second  series  and  information  about  her  as  at  a  premium.

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