East of Ipswich
East of Ipswich is a BBC television drama from 1987 written by Michael Palin, based on his own memories of dreary holidays in English coastal towns in the 1950s. It is the story of the rite of passage of 17-year-old Richard Burrill; Palin claims that the story mirrors his own first meeting with his wife.
Sitting in deckchairs and touring churches is not the holiday 17-year-old Richard wants, but his parents insist on taking him. They are staying at the Tregarron guesthouse in the (fictional) seaside town of Easton in Suffolk. This traditional English boarding house is owned and run by the formidable Miss Wilbraham.
On arrival, Richard befriends Edwin, who is girl-crazy and takes Richard under his wing. In search of girls, Richard and Edwin attend a beach service organized by the local church youth group. After the type of evening one might expect at such a gathering, they enjoy a brief tryst with the twin daughters of the minister.
The following evening another visitor, Julia, agrees to a date with Edwin but only on condition that Anna, her Dutch foreign exchange student friend, can join them. Edwin persuades Richard to join them to make up a foursome. Escaping from his parents on the pretence that the quartet is heading to the youth group's Sausage Sizzle, Richard and his friends visit a local jazz club instead.
Anna attempts to sneak away with some local bikers and Richard gives chase. As Anna rides away on the back of one biker's machine, Richard jumps on the other. The bikes race off into the sand dunes; where Richard and Anna fall off the pillions and into each other's arms. Richard is annoyed but Anna finds the whole affair amusing. Reaching for a handkerchief to clean a cut on his head, Richard also pulls out a condom that he has taken from Edwin's room.
Julia and Edwin, meanwhile, have been to fetch help. Julia's father, Richard's parents and the minister from the youth group set off to rescue Richard and Anna. A lady walking her dog along the beach stumbles across Richard and Anna as it becomes clear that Richard has experienced sexual initiation. The parents and the minister round the corner just in time to catch the teenagers in flagrante delicto.
Both families make excuses to end their holidays early and head for home.
|Richard Burrill||Edward Rawle-Hicks|
|Mr Burrill||John Nettleton|
|Mrs Burrill||Pat Heywood|
|Julia Horrobin||Oona Kirsch|
|Mr Horrobin||Allan Cuthbertson|
|Mrs Horrobin||Rosemary Macvie|
|Miss Wilbraham||Joan Sanderson|
|Betty, the maid||Janine Duvitski|
|Richard's Headmaster||Graham Crowden|
|Mr Macklin||Timothy Bateson|
|Edwin Macklin||John Wagland|
|Keith Macklin||Stuart Mansfield|
|Revd Mr Phelps||Roger Brierley|
|Rebecca Phelps||Michelle Jordan|
|Rachel Phelps||Jaynee Jordan|
|First biker||Tip Tipping|
|Second biker||Wayne Michaels|
The film was written by Michael Palin and directed by Tristram Powell as part of the BBC's Screen Two series. The series was commissioned as an anthology drama series to replace the Play for Today, and ran for five series. East of Ipswich was the fifth of fifteen episodes in the third series, and was first aired on 1 February 1987. It was produced by Innes Lloyd with original music by George Fenton. Other musical contributions came from the Sole Bay Jazz Band and the Southwold & Reydon Corps of Drums. Palin has described the film as the happiest and least complicated creative project in which he has ever been involved.