Eighties TV Season: Running Scared

This is a continuation of a series of posts on 1980s TV series which haven't appeared here before. This is a general post about this show rather than about an individual episode.

In a previous post about a show called The Fear we were in the world of eighties London gangsters, albeit as they intersected with yuppies. Running Scared is a 1986 children's TV show also set in the world of London gangsters. In fact I'm finding that many of the 1980s shows I've got on my shortlist are set in the world of London gangsters. This is of course representative of my personal taste in eighties TV rather than an objective representation of the TV of the time, and honestly there is an awful lot of dross you won't be reading about in this series of posts.

This show is about a girl who has come into conflict with a career criminal and has the power to put him away for a good long time because her grandfather happened to have  a clue to the criminal's identity, left behind during the course of a robbery. This is the core plot but there is a lot in this show about her daily life and particularly about the life of her friend who is an Asian girl, so this show includes quite a lot of different layers.

It also includes a lot of London, including proper London accents innit. This is long enough ago for there to be no London Multicultural English and there's a bit of a culture shock. A lot is made on the internet of the London locations used in filming this, and it does have a wonderfully authentic and evocative feel about it.

Although a children's show it doesn't talk down to its audience at all, and pulls no punches in terms of violence and complex relationships and emotions. Although starring kids for obvious reasons there is absolutely no reason this show couldn't be watched and enjoyed by adults.

Te villain, Charlie Elkin, is magnificently played by Chris Ellison, famous for having been a long-term star of The Bill. It's good to see him being an East End villain instead of a copper. In the manner of the time he is depicted lounging by his swimming pool in the day to show what a villain he is. It has literally just struck me what a Protestant work ethic this represents - if you can lounge by the pool in the day you are obviously dodgy. 

I have only one criticism which is that much of the point of this show depends on the two halves of Elkins's glasses, one half of which he left at the scene of the robbery and the other he took with him. I'm probably being picky but I'm not convinced this holds together: even with both halves you only know they match his prescription, and if you realize you've left one half of your glasses at a crime scene you get rid of the other half sharpish.

Apparently Running Scared has had a commercial release in Australia. Unofficial DVDS are available in the UK and it's on YouTube, where the uploader has edited it into a single long film, and then uploaded it in sections of under ten minutes each. Personally I have downloaded them and set them up as a playlist.

Very highly recommended. Finally, have a listen to the theme tune:

Proud to be a member of the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati and the anti-growth coalition. wesayenough.co.uk - tactical.vote 

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