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  • Joss Ackland plays elderly, retired Alan Holly who suddenly embarks to walk from Land's End to John O'Groats. His family are puzzled as to why he has decided to do this and encounters all sorts of people in his journey while also taking time to reflect on his life. The film is written by Michael Frayn.

    Joss Ackland has admitted that this is one of his favourite roles, yet it was also tinged with sadness. He took over the part at short notice as original choice, Ray McAnally died part way through filming.

    I guess it shows in the performance as Holly comes across as slightly reticent, bemused and lost. Even rather distant at times. We are never sure whether its Ackland trying to get to grips with the part where he presumably has had little time to prepare for or this is how his character is to behave.

    Despite this the film is a little gem. It is a humorous drama, peppered with some witty lines. Its also now a reflection of Britain in the late 1980s. Sadly this drama has been little seen since its original broadcast.
  • chitara-6917018 June 2020
    Warning: Spoilers
    Joss Auckland plays Alan Holly, a retired man who has just been informed that he is showing the first signs of dementia. So Alan suddenly walks away from his home and his family to fulfil his lifetime ambition of walking from Lands End to John O Groats whilst he is still able to do so.

    Alan's first attempt soon ends in failure, and he returns home. But then, to his family's consternation, he leaves home and tries again, this time he succeeds, and meets a succession of strange characters along the way.

    Alan is not an immediately sympathetic character, he is quite likeable in a bumbling, innocent abroad kind of way, but the viewer can understand why his family find him somewhat tiresome. Alan's family see him as a kind of King Lear character who has abdicated his responsibilities and become a nuisance. And this is no picture postcard version of travelling through England, the terseness and sometimes open hostility by provincial types to townies who visit their places out of season is faithfully depicted. The only yokel who seems a nice person is a farmers wife, who gives Alan a bed for the night rather than leave him exhausted in freezing rain in the middle of nowhere, her gruff husband would quite happily have left him outside.

    The ending is bitter sweet, Alan's smile of pleasure at finally teaching his destination slowly fades, presumably because he has realised his lifetime ambition, and now he has nothing left to live for.

    Thought provoking, at times amusing, at times sad, this is a fine comedy drama, but be warned, not everybody will enjoy it.