The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole

1985 | United Kingdom

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole is one of those iconic TV shows that you either loved or hated-in fact many parents hated it so much they wouldn't let their kids watch it. 

The programme was based on the book The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ which was brilliantly written by Sue Townsend. It dealt with the trials and tribulations of a 13 and ¾ year old and was both humorous and touching in equal measures. It was this combination that made the TV series such a hit with people of all ages. 

Adrian spent a lot of time worried about the size of his 'thing' (he had a chart where he recorded its size), his health - his doctor Dr Grey struck him off his patients list due to his hypochondria, how he would win the heart of the rich Pandora, the troubles in his parents' marriage (think infidelity, drinking, arguing and you are pretty much there), the presence of OAP Bert Baxter in his life who he had to visit for a school project but got stuck doing odd jobs for him, and keeping out the clutches of the local bully Barry Kent (Chris Gascoyne who went on to play Peter Barlow in Coronation Street).

All of these problems and worries were written by the intellectual Adrian (he thought he was an intellectual, no one else did) in his diary each night and these entries formed the basis of the series. In fact a lot of the dialogue in many of the scenes is taken directly from the book, something which makes the programme even more enjoyable for fans. The opening credits of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole are done in stop motion, which gave them a fun touch. Add to this the fantastic theme song written and performed by Ian Drury (which includes the line "I'm profoundly in love with Pandora") and you know you are in for a treat. When it came to casting the adolescent Adrian unknown Gian Sammarco was chosen, his mum was played in this first series by Julie Walters and his dad by Stephen Moore. The object of his affections, Pandora was played by Lindsay Stagg, while Adrian's grandma (in whose eyes he could do no wrong, unlike his mum) was handled with ease by Beryl Reid who could turn from doe eyed grandma to battleaxe in less than 5 seconds.

The diary was set in 1981 (the series wasn't made until 1985) and features a lot of the issues that were happening at the time including the Falklands War and mass unemployment. There were also a lot of issues that were personal to Adrian - would he ever go further than a kiss with Pandora, was his mum having an affair and what was his dad up to with Doreen Slater AKA the Stick Insect? In other words The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole was just the thoughts, ideas and worries (a lot of worries) of a normal-ish teenage boy. After the success of this series the next book, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole was also turned into a series and left off where the previous series ended. For many The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole is one of the standout programmes of their younger years and even though it looks dated it is still a classic that is unforgettable.

Published on January 28th, 2019. Written by Joanne Kerrigan (2014) for Television Heaven.