13 December 2016 | kmoh-1
Wonderful adventure for grown up kids
Boy Dominic was a well-made, if sometimes plodding, kids' adventure set in Napoleonic (or possibly post-Napoleonic) England. A couple of years on, with young Murray Dale grown up enough to play more of a juvenile lead role, Yorkshire TV's successor Trident revisited the concept, jettisoning the soap opera aspects of the original, and turned it into a rollicking smuggling saga.
And my goodness what a treat it is. The makers had a real feel for the times, conveyed brilliantly in both the studio shots and the filmed inserts. All social strata of Yorkshire are covered, from the dotty lord to the dotty peasant. Splendidly eccentric characters, such as Jenkins and Jimmy Bells, stick in the mind. The villains are spectacularly villainous. Dominic's mentor Captain Beever is uncompromising and military - and can we really trust him?
Yet it's hardly merely a kids' tale. There are enough dark hints of unconventional sexual relationships to put a bit of spice in the plot and keep parents' interest, even if the children might not always pick them up. It would be a brave author who produced this script in 2016.
The cast is uniformly excellent, and get their teeth into the many meaty parts offered by the script. Murray Dale never made it (or never wanted to), but of the other juveniles Louise Jameson (actually 25 at the time) certainly made the breakthrough. Wendy Williams is the housekeeper from hell, and Edwin Richfield had long turned sullen twitchiness into an art form.
The standout performance, upon which the edifice sits, is Gordon Gostelow's Barty Finn, who convincingly ranges between plausible rogue, evil villain, incompetent roughneck, loving father, callous torturer, pathetic social climber and treacherous betrayer with brilliance and gusto. Not since Long John Silver had there been such a wonderfully ambivalent father figure in fiction.