One Summer DVD cover
|Written by||Willy Russell|
|Directed by||Gordon Flemyng|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||5 x 50 min.|
|Producer(s)||David Cunliffe (Executive)
|Production company(s)||Yorkshire Television
(for Channel 4)
|Original network||Channel 4|
|Picture format||1.33:1 (colour film)|
|Original release||7 August – 4 September 1983|
One Summer is a 1983 British television drama serial written by Willy Russell and directed by Gordon Flemyng. It stars David Morrissey and Spencer Leigh as two 16-year-old Liverpool boys from broken homes who escape from their grim lives by running away to Wales one summer. It also starred James Hazeldine and Ian Hart (credited in the series as Ian Davies). The series was shown in five 50-minute episodes on Channel 4 from 7 August to 4 September 1983. It was repeated on ITV in April 1985.
Sixteen-year-old Billy Rizley (Morrissey) comes from a broken home in Liverpool. His father is absent, his older sister despises him, and his mother suffers from depression and is unwilling to care for him. Billy and his slightly dimwitted friend Icky (Leigh) have truanted from school for some time and have fallen into a life of delinquency, regularly fighting with local gangs and getting into trouble with the police. Billy is already on probation and it seems only a matter of time before his life of crime and violence results in his incarceration. When the pair decide to go back into school in order to go on a school camping trip to Wales, they are rebuffed by their teacher. With no direction or prospects in life, the pair decide to run away to Wales by themselves, the last place Billy had any happy memories when he went away on a previous school trip some years earlier. Billy steals some money from his mother to facilitate their trip. Upon their arrival in Wales, they almost immediately get into trouble with the local police but escape arrest. They try to spend the night in a barn at a secluded farm, but are caught by the farmer and his wife. Though they take pity on the two boys and let them spend the night in the house, in the morning Billy and Icky make a quick getaway from the farmhouse when the police arrive.
Wandering through the Welsh countryside, they come across an old cottage which they initially believe is deserted. Hoping to find shelter inside, they come face to face with Kidder (Hazeldine), the man who lives there. Kidder lives the life of a hermit, preferring to keep himself to himself. Completely self-sufficient, he works as an artist, selling his paintings at a local market, and grows his own food. He reluctantly allows the boys to stay for a night but tells them they have to leave after that. Hoping to change Kidder's mind, the boys begin to do chores around the house and the grounds outside, but Icky breaks all of Kidder's plates in the river when he is supposed to be washing them. The boys set out to find replacement plates and end up stealing some from a nearby house. When they return they find a gang of local Welsh youths vandalising Kidder's house. They chase them off, and eventually Kidder agrees to let them stay, but Billy is later beaten up by the local gang. Meanwhile, Kidder discovers Icky is illiterate and, being a former schoolteacher, begins teaching him how to read.
While Billy and Kidder are away at the local market, Icky goes out on his own and discovers the boys from his school at the camp site that he and Billy had come to Wales to find. However, when he brings the boys back to Kidder's house, they get drunk and wreck the house. One of the boys, Rabbit (Hart), steals Kidder's money from a drawer. Meanwhile, at the market, Billy meets Jo, a pretty, intelligent girl from a local middle-class family. Later, when Billy gets back to the house, he finds Icky sleeping off a hangover and Kidder's money gone. They go to the camp site and get the money back, threatening Rabbit not to reveal to anyone where they are living. Kidder gives the boys handmade books that he wrote for them about their adventures. One night, the three of them go to a local dance where Billy sees Jo again. As they begin a romantic relationship, Icky grows restless and decides to return to Liverpool alone.
Back in Liverpool, Icky and the gang from school steal a car and drive to Southport. While there, they again come into conflict with a rival gang and Rabbit stabs one of them. Icky abandons the gang in Southport and tries to drive back to Wales, but he is chased by the police and is killed when he crashes the stolen car. Back in Wales, the local police come looking for Billy at Kidder's house. As Billy is hiding from them, he overhears their conversation and learns that Kidder is gay and once had an affair with an 18-year-old male student (a criminal offence at the time) at the school where he worked and served a prison sentence for it. Distraught at what he hears, Billy runs away from Kidder's house and finds Jo. She reasons with him and dispels his homophobic thoughts about Kidder, and the two then make love near a lake. When he later returns to Kidder's house, Billy sees two police officers from Liverpool who have come to take him back home because he has broken the conditions of his probation. The police officers begin assaulting Kidder to make him tell them where Billy is. Rather than run away, Billy comes to Kidder's defence and stops the police from hurting him further. Billy is then taken back to his grim life in Liverpool by the police officers, his summer in Wales over.
Produced by Yorkshire Television, the series was filmed from April to October 1982 in Liverpool, Yorkshire and Wales.
Scriptwriter Willy Russell initially had his name removed from the credits after disagreements with the producers, particularly taking umbrage to the casting of Morrissey and Leigh whom he considered too old to portray the 16-year-old lead characters (they were 18 and 19 respectively at the time of filming). However, when the series was repeated on ITV in 1985, Russell's screen credit had been restored. In later years, Russell stated his intention to write a film adaptation of One Summer, though this never came to pass.
One Summer was released on DVD in 2006 by Network DVD. The two-disc set includes all five episodes and commentaries and interviews with Morrissey, Leigh and Hart.
- Angelini, Sergio. "One Summer (1983)", Screenonline, British Film Institute. Retrieved on 11 December 2008.
- One Summer at the Internet Movie Database
- Willy Russell – Official Website (One Summer page)
- One Summer site – includes original interviews with cast members Spencer Leigh, David Morrissey and Jane West