Our Day Out

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This article is about the film. For the play, see Our Day Out (play).
Our Day Out
Our Day Out coach.png
Directed by Pedr James
Produced by David Rose
Written by Willy Russell
Starring Jean Heywood
Alun Armstrong
Elizabeth Estensen
Lennox Greaves
Robert Gillespie
George Malpas
Jill Richards
Iona Banks
Peter Tilbury
Running time 80:34 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English language

Our Day Out is a television play about deprived children from Liverpool in the United Kingdom. It was written by Willy Russell and first aired on 28 December 1977, at 9pm on BBC2.[1] It was later converted into a full length stage musical.

Origins and development[edit]

The play "Our Day Out" was commissioned by the BBC and first broadcast in December 1977[1] as part of the BBC's Play of the Week series. Due to popular demand, it was shown again in February 1978 as part of the BBC's Play For Today series,[2] and was also re-broadcast in 1979 and again in August 1990, and on BBC4 in 2008.

Willy Russell had taught at Dingle Vale School, one of the locations used in the film, and called on his experiences of school trips—as a teacher and as a child—when writing the screenplay, which he finished in five days. The film was shot on 16mm film by a first-time director in three weeks, and features a largely untrained cast.[3]

The original television version was developed into a musical for the stage with songs by Willy Russell, Chris Mellor, and Bob Eaton. This production, directed by Bob Eaton, was first performed at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool in 1983.

Plot[edit]

The film centres on a school trip to Conwy Castle in North Wales. Mrs. Kay teaches a remedial class for illiterate children, called the "Progress Class". The whole class - along with Digga and Reilly, the slightly older class bullies who used to be in the Progress Class - are taken on a coach trip. In the Mr Briggs makes the decision to go on the trip as an extra member of staff, emphasising his mistrust of the liberal values of Mrs Kay. However, in the shorter stage version the Headteacher commissions Mr. Briggs, the authoritarian Deputy Headmaster, to supervise the trip.

On the way to the Castle, the coach stops at a petrol station with a snack shop, where the students take advantage of the storekeepers' confusion to shoplift sweets and snacks, unbeknownst to the teachers supervising. It makes a second stop at a zoo, where the students enjoy the animals so much that they try to steal most of them. The zoo attendant discovers this just in time before the coach pulls out, and makes them return the animals.

When the coach finally reaches the Castle, the students race around exploring the grounds, cliffs and beach. Soon it's time to leave, but one of the best-behaved students, Carol, is missing. A search ensues and Mr. Briggs finally finds Carol, who is depressed because she doesn't want to return to the bad conditions at her home. She wants a better life and wishes she lived in a nicer area, like that which surrounds the Castle. She becomes so upset that she threatens to jump off the cliff. Mr. Briggs, who up till this point has acted like a harsh disciplinarian, policing the students' bad behavior and expressing doubts that they should even be allowed to have an outing, shows a more understanding side as he convinces Carol not to jump and to rejoin the rest of the group. The coach makes one more stop at a fairground where the students have some more fun before returning home.

Mr Briggs is very strict and mean. He doesn't change character. Many people think this as it is shown in the play. The original copy of "Our Day Out" does not state anything about Mr Briggs having a softer side.

Along the way, two young teachers, Susan and Colin, who are helping Mrs. Kay supervise, must also deal with the fact that Digga and Reilly have a crush on Susan while two older girl students have a crush on Colin. Susan and Colin solve their problem by subtly suggesting that Digga and Reilly should turn their attentions to the two girls.

Analysis[edit]

While the story is partly a comedy of the highs and lows of being teenagers and free from school, its main thrust is an indictment of the stunted and impoverished lives of that inner city children are condemned to live. They are reminded of their depressing situation and even bleaker future leading to the stark realisation that a day out is about as much as they can expect. As Mrs Kay angrily reminds Mr Briggs, the trip isn't about education, "it's too late for that", it's about letting them have some fun in better surroundings than they are used to.[4] It is similar to Russell's later work Blood Brothers in dealing with the lives that working class children have.

Differences from play[edit]

The most noticeable difference from the play was the omission of the characters John and Mac, who, in the play, are the shop owners in Wales who get robbed. In the movie they are replaced by two women. In the play Mr Briggs doesn't have a soft side while in the movie he does have a soft side. In the later musical, this soft side is maintained as he enjoys a day out at the fair with the students, but sadly destroys the photographic evidence at the end by exposing the film to the light.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Date Confusion: The Willy Russell website gives the date of the original film as 1976, stating that it was repeated six weeks later as part of the Play For Today series. However, the repeat date is documented as 7 February 1978, and the Play of the Week series in which the film was originally shown did not begin until September 1977, so a first broadcast in December 1977 seems more likely.
  2. ^ "Our Day Out". ClassicUKTV.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  3. ^ "Willy Russell: Our Day Out - the film". WillyRussell.com. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  4. ^ "WillRussell.com". Retrieved 2013-11-25. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]