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Adrian Mole, The Secret Diary/Growing Pains of

DECADE-ENHANCING COFFEE table staple by SUE TOWNSEND adapted reasonably, if rather needlessly, for the screen and starring GIAN SAMMARCO as the spotty, ‘thing’-obsessed adolescent nerd misunderstood by his parents, adored by his grandma and, of course, profoundly in love with Pandora, as Ian Dury’s rousing theme recited. Barely a script change, with much of it in monologue with Adrian in his bedroom, staring into the mirror while reading extracts from the diary. Beetroot-loving octogenarian bigot Bert Baxter provided a final role for BILL “ARMY GAME” FRASER, while the rest of the cast were spot on: JULIE WALTERS and STEPHEN MOORE as the hard-drinking, forever-rowing parents and BERYL REID as the thin-lipped, potty grandma. LINDSEY STAGG played Pandora, who wasn’t anywhere near as ravishable as we’d expected. Sequel THE GROWING PAINS… was also done, to lesser effect, mainly as Walters had been replaced by LULU, who just wasn’t as convincing as a woefully bad matriarch. Childbirth, running away from home, “touch her bust”, Falklands campaign maps, “we shall, we shall wear red socks”. Not at all bad. Sammarco played the character again, in all but name, in a bad run of high street bank adverts, winking at the cashier and everything. Has since vacated “public eye” radar screen.



  1. David Pascoe

    January 6, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Whenever I read the new volumes of Adrian’s life, I always picture the cast from this adaptation in them.

  2. Lee James Turnock

    May 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    The first series is excellent, the second is merely very good – spoiled slightly by the thick-eared synth-heavy musical cues every time things get a bit sad or even downbeat. And it doesn’t half, what with Queenie dying and Adrian running away from home.

  3. Delila L Fewstin

    July 22, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I love Adrian Mole. Words cannot describe how much I do. He was the inspiration that I needed. I’m glad I refused to work that Wednesday afternoon in November 2008.
    About the series’ – Lulu was no match for Julie Walters. What on earth was going on there? You couldn’t have got anybody better to play old Adrian though. The lovely Gian, will always be one of my heroes. And lets not forget his creator, dear Sue Townsend.

  4. David Smith

    July 23, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Sammarco is now a psychiatric nurse in the East Midlands and no longer acts (he said, reading Wikipedia).

  5. Pete

    July 23, 2010 at 7:21 am

    I can believe that David. A colleague once told me he applied to be a youth worker once upon a time.

  6. Richard Davies

    August 31, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    I remember my Dad laughing the house down when Adrian accidently glued a model Spitfire to he nose.

    I was a bit young to see it first time round but Granada repeated it later in the 1980s & I watched it then.

    Stephen Moore seemed to become “rentadad” by the mid 1990s, being the dad in The Queen’s Nose & one of Kevin’s dad’s (he had at least 3) in Harry Enfield.

  7. Glenn A

    November 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Why on earth has this never been repeated?

  8. Droogie

    July 22, 2020 at 2:50 am

    Really liked watching this show whilst a spotty teenager myself. Great cast. Freddie Jones as demented headmaster ” Popeye” Scruton sticks in the mind, as does the theme tune by Ian Dury. I always thought The Grimleys owed a fair bit to this show for Midlands-based adolescent schoolboy comedy drama.

    • richardpd

      July 22, 2020 at 11:00 am

      I hadn’t really connected this with The Grimleys before, though they share a fair amount in common, with Gordon being a misunderstood intellectual growing up in the Midlands.

      The earlier episodes of The Grimleys genuinely felt like a show from the 1970s, with plenty of grainy location shots on a bleak housing estate, along with the sort of sarky humour from the period. The later ones didn’t seem to be made which such detail, & instead went all self-referential & silly.

      • Glenn Aylett

        July 23, 2020 at 9:37 pm

        Another nearly forgotten great, The Grimleys, although this was based somewhere between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Always remember it for one thing, the cameo by Bullet Baxter, at a teacher’s conference.

        • Droogie

          July 24, 2020 at 12:15 am

          The cameos on thie Grimleys were Inspired and brilliant , Frank Bough and William Woolllard ( from Tomorrow’s World, and who always reminded me of Edward Fox in Day Of The Jackal) both playing news reporters come to mind.

  9. THX 1139

    July 23, 2020 at 9:44 am

    Saw the stage show of this, which starred Gian, but the day I went he wasn’t in it, he had a day off and his understudy was some bloke from… Palace Hill, I think? Can’t remember his name. He was fine, but it was a bit like going to see The Rolling Stones only to find Mick Jagger had been replaced by an understudy.

    • Droogie

      July 23, 2020 at 11:26 am

      Simon Schatzberger? He starred in the stage musical back in the 80’s. He also played a Sue Townsend sketch character called The Wimp on Your Mother Wouldn’t Like it.

      • THX 1139

        July 23, 2020 at 12:01 pm

        Might have been, but I think I would have remembered his name (!). He had curly hair, whoever he was.

  10. richardpd

    July 23, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    The secondary school I used to go to put on the musical version of Adrian Mole a few years after my left, my sister was an extra in some scenes.

    I can remember they replaced references to Malcolm Muggerich to Jeremy Paxman, probably because no-one of school age knew who he was.

    Also in Drama one group performed Bazaar & Rummage by Sue Townsend, with the outspoken Rita Onions.

  11. Tom Ronson

    September 30, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    Whilst a lot of the dialogue was indeed lifted almost verbatim from the books (Bert Baxter’s classic line ‘personally, I’d give me right ball for a week in Skeggy’ sadly didn’t make it to the screen), the only occasions on which we saw Adrian monologuing in front of his bedroom mirror were prior to the opening titles and just before the closing credits. I also remember a lot of people being somewhat disappointed by the casting of Lindsay Stagg as Pandora, because she wasn’t exactly the ‘treacle-haired beauty’ described in the original novels, but as Richie from Bottom so rightly said, it’s sexist to fancy the good-looking ones.

  12. Richardpd

    August 15, 2023 at 10:47 pm

    Supposedly Lindsey Stagg disliked making the show so much that she gave up acting & is now a social worker.

    It was always a bitter sweet experience, with the domestic strife mixed with some laugh out moments.

  13. David Smith

    August 16, 2023 at 6:47 am

    Bully “Barry Kent” – Chris Gascoyne – is these days to be found playing the latest incarnation of Peter Barlow in Corrie.

  14. Glenn Aylett

    August 16, 2023 at 10:15 pm

    Barry Kent was like Gripper Stebson was in Grange Hill: a racist and a loser, but redeems himself later on by rejecting his past and developing a talent for writing poetry. I often wonder if this would have happened to Gripper as he became older and a story about Gripper’s later life would make for a great piece of fan writing.

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