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Billy and Jo larking about

Icky and Rabbit arguing

Argument between Billy and Rabbit

Billy stabs one of the gang

Billy knifes one of the gang

Icky crashes the car

Billy destroys Kidders book

Billy threatens to kill himself

Billy is arrested and taken back to Liverpool

Con O'Niell

 

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One Summer...

The reviews at the time mostly concentrated on the differences between the author and Yorkshire Television.

The Daily Telegraph

With One Summer (Channel 4), a five-part Yorkshire Television drama series, we were back in Liverpool with two school-leavers who had already left. Billy and his weaker partner Icky didn't go near the classroom. They preferred to steal cigarettes from the corner shop, to mug drunks, and to kill time.

Yet Billy, kicking a tin amongst the wastelands, cherished a vision of the country, based on a school camping holiday in Wales. "It's great, and when the fire's going and they're cooking sausages and soup and that, it's knockout. When we had to leave I was crying y'know. It's the only time I ever cried in my life."

Quite why Willy Russell, who wrote the script, has asked for his name to be removed from the credits (instead, the drama appears as by the author of "Educating Rita") hasn't been made clear. Certainly by his high standards, the first episode limped: it moved from darkness towards a dream without his usual pace and wit.

It was hard luck on David Morrissey and Spencer Leigh, two promising young actors cast as Billy and Icky, that they were expected to look 16, when they were evidently three or four years older. In a naturalistic production directed by Gordon Flemyng their maturity of stance and style tended to work against the story.

Their circumstances (Billy had no father, a mother obsessed with bingo and slut of a sister, and Icky was one of 10 in a slum family) were set down as if in a tract about urban deprivation, not integrated into the play.

Sylvia Clayton - August 8 1983

Daily Express

I had an "oh-no-not-again" feeling when I found out that Channel 4's new five-part serial ONE SUMMER was about a teenage no-hoper who lived in a squalid Liverpool high-rise with a sluttish mother and sister.

But last night's opening episode was a genuine heart-breaker with a bleak Liverpudlian humour that kept its feet firmly on the ground as Billy Risley eventually escaped to Wales with his friend Icky.

It was blessed, too, with some superb acting - most notably from Sheila Fay as Billy's scowling, neurotic mother.

Maureen Paton - August 8 1983

Yorkshire Post

The scenario for Willy Russell's new Channel 4 drama series "One Summer" is a depressingly familiar one.

It is set in Liverpool wasteland so popular with TV directors, where the working classes are addicted to cigarettes, bingo and TV, and where every juvenile is also delinquent.

The saving grace if this series is Mr. Russell's lively script.

Eric Roberts - August 8 1983

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Scouse Double Act
Raymond Massey described a painful encounter with Bernard Shaw, who was vetting the cast of St Joan. Confronting the young Massey, craggy, one suspects even in the cradle, Shaw said: "But Brother Martin was good looking!' Massey was, years later, magnanimous: "He had a right to be like that."
Whether writers have a right to be like that is, like how pole vaulters get their poles on a bus, one of those questions which could detain us indefinitely. That they are like that is not debatable. Shaw's stage directions indicate that St Joan should have big and bulging eyes but nowhere suggest that Brother Martin is handsome. He just saw him as good looking and that, for Massey, was that.
Willy Russell disowned Yorkshire 's production of his five-part play One Summer (Channel 4). He saw, apparently, the two boys as younger and the play itself as harder. Crying in effect 'never call me mother more" he look his name off the credits, leaving Yorkshire to publicise it mysteriously as "by the author of Educating Rita."
One Summer is about two Liverpool boys, Billy and Icky, who run away to Wales . Billy has a green and gentle memory of the place, and where Billy goes Icky goes too. The name Billy Rizley is near enough to Willy Russell to suggest he may have written some of his heart into this part.
That they are still school-boys, though rarely at school, is important to the sense of the story. Billy trying to buy two tickets to Wales and Icky buying two girlie magazines, half a dozen Yorkies, and a dozen Mars bars for the journey, suggest that they are, however you slice them, 16.
David Morrissey and Spencer Leigh, who play the boys, make very creditable first appearances on television: Billy pulling a film of arrogant boredom over his face like a nylon stocking and Icky always at his shoulder squawking like a parrot. Leigh's mixture of comedy and pathos was, I thought particularly promising. They are however, 19 and 20 years old.
"You're the kid in this house. Just some short-arsed kid that knows nuttin," shrieked Billy's sister. She had to shriek because he loomed some distance above her. He is taller than most policemen you meet. With their hats on. On their horses. He could evidently drive all comers into the ground like tent pegs and, as they all look up to him, probably has.
 The dialogue of illiterate boys in the mouths of young men implies they are mentally retarded and that is quite another kind of play. This sort of casting happens - look at Ewan in Grey Granite: as ravaged a teenager as ever had to beat up a bus conductor to persuade him he was entitled to travel half fare - but it makes life harder for the viewer.
Billy and lcky's Liverpool is wild, treacherous, serrated. A place of compulsive theft, as persistent as a tick, and sudden, savage pursuit. A hard world but as Robert Keegan puts it: " Robbed soft." It must stand comparison with formidably excellent productions like Central's series of David Leland plays.
The only moments in One Summer which took me by the throat were the amazing greys of Liverpool, cranes dissolving in the distance, and lamp-posts standing on one leg, fishing in the mist. It is, however, well worth staying with One Summer partly because it's not that bad and partly because, at the weekend, everything else is.

Nancy Banks-Smith - Guardian - August 8 1983

 
Russell Disowns Summer Series
Top playwright Willy Russell has disowned Yorkshire TVs One Summer, the new drama series for Channel 4 which he wrote.
 
The series came about when Yorkshire asked Russell if he would like to write a follow-up to his play Daughters of Albion.

Russell was not keen and instead put forward the idea of One Summer, which concerns two teenage boys who escape from the poverty and violence of their environment to try and find happiness in rural Wales.

The five-part sereis was shot in Wales, Liverpool, and at a cottage near Leeds between Easter and October last year.
Producer Keith Richardson - who also made Harry's Games - said: "I'm very happy with it, Yorkshire is very happy with it, but Willy isn't."

Russell was invited to last week's press showing but did not turn up. His agent says Russell he is on holiday.

Yorkshire says Russell was away when the two lead roles were cast.

The finished product bore little resemblance to his original concept, so he asked Yorkshire to remove his name from everything to do with the series.
Richardson said: "I think he felt he hadn't contributed very much to the finished series. He was very busy and didn't have the time to participate fully."

Peter Monteith - Television Weekly - August 12 1983

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Russell Falls Out With YTV

A major row has broken out between playwright Willy Russell and Yorkshire Television over the screening of a new five-part film, 'One Summer', which begins on Channel 4 this Sunday.

Russell, author of the West End musical hit 'Blood Brothers' and the film 'Educating Rita', is the scriptwriter of the series, but his name does not appear on the credits - at his own request. Despite this, YTV have issued press releases and organised a conference to launch the series in which Russell is featured as the author.
Russell, speaking from his Liverpool home before leaving for a timely holiday, told TO that the programme had been fraught with misunderstandings and lack of co-operation from the start. Produced by Keith Richardson (Head of Drama at Tyne Tees TV and producer on YTV's recently acclaimed 'Harry's Game') and directed by Gordon Flemyng, 'One Summer' is the story of two working-class Liverpool 16-year-olds who run away to the Welsh countryside and try to recapture the enjoyment of a far-off school camping holiday, encountering adventures and aggravation on the way.
'I have no beef with David Rose, Channel 4's Head of Drama, or David Cunliffe, the executive producer with whom I go back a long way,' says Russell. 'But I hate the way the series has been directed. It's not what I intended - and I am in profound disagreement over the way it was cast.
'I could give a whole list of disagreements but the casting is the most thorny problem. The producer and director reneged on a promise not to cast the play while I was out of the country. They ignored actors that I recommended and selected others without my knowledge or consent. The result is that the boys are played by two people - who I have nothing against personally - who are much older than 16 and the result is that a great deal of sympathy - which is vital to the point of the series, has been lost. Parts of it are brutal and even pornographic as a result.'
Russell says that not once was he invited to discuss the script with director Flemyng, who made it clear that (Russell's) direct involvement in the shooting was not wanted.
'I didn't like the way the storyline was sacrificed to a lot of pretty shots of the Welsh countryside. I wrote the best film sequence I've ever written and they cut it and substituted a traffic jam. I wrote about a derelict cottage which they turned into a £150,000 bijou Hampstead residence and they did the same thing with a caravan. These details add up. But the whole tone isn't what I intended and I asked sometime ago to have my name removed.'
The series features many non-actors and previous unknowns (including Dave Morrissey and Spencer Leigh in the main parts). Russell says: 'On previous plays I've written where unknowns or non-actors have been cast loads of kids have been seen. On "Our Day Out" for the BBC we saw 300 and selected 20. Here, they only looked at about 40.'
Russell did admit that the series would 'probably work on its own terms' and a spokesman for YTV told TO: 'We don't want to get involved in a slanging match with Mr Russell. We are proud of the series and think we have done justice to his work. Obviously we are saddened that he took his name off it. We saw as many as 200 young people to find the leads, not 40. His script has been changed very slightly - and only when scenes were impractical and wouldn't have worked on TV.'


Steve Grant - Time Out - August 10 1983

 

Not a jolly conclusion

In the final episode last night, soft Icky killed himself in a stolen car with slow-motion cinematic grace, brave Billy was arrested by vicious Liverpool detectives and taken home to be re-brutalised, and their protector Kidder was exposed as a defrocked schoolmaster who was once imprisoned because of a homosexual affair with an 18-year-old pupil. It was not the most jolly conclusion imaginable.

For the last five weeks One Summer (C-4) has been the one reason for staying near a television set on Sunday evenings. There must nevertheless be some sympathy for Willy Russell, who refused to allow his name to be attached to the finished Yorkshire production. What might have been the serial of the year came out as merely watchable.

Above all, the story of two Merseyside 16-year-olds running away from home and school to rural Wales needed to two actors of the same age to engineer the intended audience response of muddled sympathy and revulsion. The intelligent efforts of mature players David Morrissey (Billy) and Spencer Leigh (Icky) to simulate 16 kept running into defeating implausibilities.

Particularly in the final episode, director Gordon Flemyng was insistent on the contrast between urban hardness and rural softness. The Welsh countryside all dappled with sunlight, and Kidder's derelict home, gave idealised hospitality.

The quick rhythmic cutting between Icky's abrasive and town-based last hours and Billy's idyllic dalliance with girlfriend Jo (also much too old) substituted irony for dramatic tension.

This was the strongest slice of television drama to emerge form Yorkshire since "Harry's Game," also produced by Keith Richardson. At a certain level it worked well and I would not have missed an episode even when on holiday, but it lacked the power of its own storyline.

The Daily Telegraph - September 5 1983

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