TV Cream

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Our John Willie

GEORDIE GRIMNESS in the form of a Catherine Cookson adaptation and foisted on 70s kids, later repeated in the classic Sunday serial slot. Pit disaster claims John Willie’s father, leaving him (deaf and dumb) and brother Davey hunting work. They are “taken in” by the kindly but strict (as ever) Miss Peamarsh. Much gritty Northern rivalry betwixt heroes and baddy Coxon (MALCOLM “WHEN THE BOAT COMES IN” TERRIS), and the dog, Snuffy, dug up some skeleton or other in the greenhouse. Canny, like.



  1. Sheila

    August 25, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I have been trying to find out if this series was ever released on video. There are a number of ITV children’s tv series from the 70’s and 80’s available on DVD now, why don’t the BBC release their children’s series of the same era? There are many of us adults who love to watch programmes we enjoyed as children.

  2. JOY

    September 2, 2010 at 12:15 am


  3. Richard Davies

    November 15, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Juliet Bravo was also a BBC Pebble Mill production, in spite of it’s Lancashire / Yorkshire border setting.

  4. Sidney Balmoral James

    March 3, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    Crivens – I’ve just remembered the bit with the skull – I would have been four years old when I saw this, and I do remember thinking how dismal it was even then, particularly when compared to Cheggers Plays Pop. Probably only matched by legendary BBC schools programme How We Used to Live, for grimness, rickets etc.

  5. Droogie

    March 3, 2022 at 3:27 pm

    I LOATHED these dull educational costume dramas that appeared on the BBC children’s slot. It felt like having to endure another schools programme in your free time and made you really wish they’d show an episode of the Monkees instead. There was an equally dull drama series about the Great Western Railway around this time.

  6. Glenn Aylett

    March 3, 2022 at 6:29 pm

    The BBC kids dramas of the seventies and eighties fell into two categories. You had the hard hitting realism of Grange Hill and Rocky O Rourke, then these tedious, cheaply made period dramas for children. Our John Willie was OK, but I can remember one called The Little Silver Trumpet, based on an obscure novel from 1880 about life in the East End( as the BBC claimed), which looked like it was made on a budget of a fiver and was like watching grass grow.

    • Droogie

      March 4, 2022 at 1:14 am

      @ Glenn Aylett Gimme the likes of Grange Hill over the period drama kids shows every time. The only kids costume dramas duller than the BBC ones were the imports they used to repeatedly screen. The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn one that went on forever, and an interminable Australian one set in a Victorian mining community (!)

  7. Sidney Balmoral James

    March 4, 2022 at 1:04 pm

    I have a soft spot for Huckleberry Finn and his friends, full of memorable scenes, although it rather over-emphasized the bleaker elements, or perhaps they were just very frightening to a child – the scene when they tried firing cannon to raise Huck’s body from the river, the terrifying Injun Joe, the dead body in the floating house, and the Duke and the Dauphin being tarred and feathered.

  8. Glenn Aylett

    March 5, 2022 at 10:23 am

    I can remember the BBC showing a Czech version of Huckleberry Finn, with an English narrator talking over the Czech dialogue. Rather odd, as it could have been dubbed or subtitled, but actually quite watchable as the Czech Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn thwart a villain called Kafka, named after the country’s most famous author.

  9. George White

    March 6, 2022 at 8:41 am

  10. Glenn Aylett

    March 6, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    @ George White, so it was Russian and called Tom Sawyer, always thought the series was Czech, but it is a long time ago now and this was one of several imported dramas the BBC bought in from countries other than America.
    Always remember another one that went on forever and was dubbed from German into English, Heidi, which had a brilliant theme tune, but went on longer than Twin Peaks.

  11. George White

    May 4, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    Ukrainian, technically.

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