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Machine Gunners, The

PROBABLY SHOWN in every school in the country at some point during the mid-80s, this was stirring stuff indeed for Auntie’s 5.10pm Wednesday playhouse. Based on an original novel by Robert Westall, itself a staple secondary school library text, here were a bunch of kids trying to survive the Blitz and passing, nay pissing away the hours collecting junk rained down from helpfully dead Hun. Crucially, they were all far removed from your usual Posh Children Throwing Hissy Fits, and hence all the more believable, regularly beating each other up in the bargain. Central kid, Chas McGill (SHAUN TAYLOR) finds a Luftwaffe plane shot down near his rabbit hutch “den” and, being the first to claim it, saws the machine gun from the gun turret and adds it to his hideout. Cue much angst and grubby-faced griping amongst his mates, besides attempts to shoot down other aircraft. Later, the pilot of the plane, Rudi, shows up and is taken prisoner. Much soul-searching and, ultimately, tragedy follows. Grim stuff, the kind to shut up even the stroppiest joker at the back of the class.

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  1. Lee James Turnock

    May 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    “Where we goin’ now?”

  2. Richard16378

    April 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I remember this being shown a few years before I read the book at school.

  3. Glenn A

    November 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    The author has a street named after him in North Shields, ironically not far from where the characters lived in the book and where a German air raid set fire to a timber yard.

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