This is the story of two Liverpool youths, sixteen-year-old Billy Rizley (David Morrissey) and his friend Icky (Spencer Leigh). Billy's father has left home leaving him with a sister who despises him and a mother who can't or won't care for him as she has to face her own demons. Lacking direction both boys soon become involved in local gang fighting and as a result Billy has a brush with the law that results in him being put on probation. Stealing money from his mother Billy and Icky flee to Wales, a place he visited years ago and one that he has fond memories of.
However they don't find the calm idyllic life that Billy expects. Upon their arrival in Wales they immediately get into trouble with the local police and after escaping arrest take refuge in a secluded farm. But they have to leave after they are discovered by the farmer and only just manage to escape from the police. Eventually they come across an old cottage which they initially believe is deserted. Breaking in they are confronted by Kidder, a man who has chosen to live the life of a hermit. He allows the boys to stay after they have chased off some local youths who attempt to vandalise Kidder's home. He also begins to teach the illiterate Icky how to read. Eventually Icky decides to return alone to Liverpool, but he soon gets involved with gangs again - and after stealing a car he is killed whilst being chased by the police. Billy is eventually found in Wales and taken back to his grim life in Liverpool.
A five part television serial written in 1980, produced by Yorkshire TV for Channel 4 and transmitted in August 1983, sharply observed and written with both sympathy and a sense of humour, this critical and commercial success was created and written by renowned Liverpool playwright Willy Russell. However, this proved a highly controversial production which lead to Russell, unhappy with the casting of the two young lead actors he considered too old to play Billy and Icky (the boys were 18 and 19 respectively and the characters were 16 years of age), to have his name removed from the credits. Russell's name did reappear in later rerun screenings, and was credited in ITV publicity from 1985.
Originally Granada Media stated the programme would not be released on DVD due to restrictions placed on it by Willy Russell but whatever the differences these seemed to have been resolved and the series was released by Network in 2007. Produced by Keith Richardson of Yorkshire TV for Channel 4 and directed by Gordon Flemyng.
Published on January 15th, 2019. Written by Noel Onely for Television Heaven.