I'm not sure what a Welsh children's drama (from a novel by Nina Bawden) is doing in a prime Sunday night TV slot but this proved to be watchable. Partly it was because in shows of this kind it is the children who are normal and the adults who are grotesque or just plain odd. What with the severe and slightly potty Mr Evans the grocer, his older sister Mrs Gotobed, Hepzibiah the homely housekeeper, Johnny the handicapped boy and Lou, Evans' younger sister, there's more than enough for an analyst.
Carrie, the centre of this story about two children sent to the country to escape the blitz, is oddly likable. The great thing about her is she does not let the strangers and strangeness intimidate her; she tackles things on her own terms. She also gives her younger brother the support he needs almost automatically. It's a very fine performance from Keeley Fawcett.
A good supporting cast is essential in this sort of tale, and we are treated to some fine performances. Alun Armstrong as Samuel Evans stays just this side of caricature and allows us to see that the fearsome bible-basher has a softer side. As Hepzibiah, Pauline Quirke is everybody's warm-hearted mum and Eddie Cooper as Alfred Sandwich is a wonderfully querilous adolescent. Jamie Beddard was pretty realistic as the disabled Mr Johnny Beddard himself has cerebral palsy, though that has not stopped him from becoming a successful actor.
I suppose this story is partly autobiographical; it does seem to give from the child's point of view the experience of evacuation. It also makes the point that for a child, the imaginary terrors are as real as the actual dangers; 20 years later it is the imaginary ghosts that haunt the adult.
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