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.