Turning The Town Red

Scully is a television programme set in inner-city Liverpool in the early 1980s. I first saw it when we, for some reason that I cannot remember, watched it at school and, although I hadn’t seen it for the best part of thirty years, I still remembered bits of it very clearly – the theme song Turning The Town Red by Elvis Costello (who also played Scully’s older train obssessed brother) being one of them.

Francis Scully is sixteen years old and is a bit of a tearaway. He is always in trouble with the police causing havoc in the streets and at school with his mates. He really is the bane of his teachers and some of the local policemen’s lives, but he isn’t really a bad lad, just bored.

The series opens with Scully seeing his probation officer who asks him what he is good at to which he says nothing. He notices that he was once good at drama and that he should audition for the school pantomime. The rest of the series concerns two of his teachers trying to get him to audition for the play. Scully however has other ideas and tries to make sure that he does everything else but be in the pantomime.

His main love is football and Liverpool FC in particular and he often sees Kenny Dalglish in the place of people he is talking too, which is often quite amusing in the series as you had never before seen Kenny Dalglish in this way before, especially dressed as a fairy godmother. Scully also keeps seeing the school caretaker as a Dracula like figure complete with blood stained fangs and if he didn’t like him at the start of the series then he really didn’t like him by the end.

This is mostly a drama series about the lives of young people in Liverpool, people that the writer Alan Bleasdale knew well after being a teacher in the same area where this is set but there are some comedic elements as well. A lot of these come from the more surreal sequences that I mentioned before and also from his best mate, Mooey, who comes out with some real great lines.

The opening titles are interesting for Liverpool FC fans like myself featuring Scully as Liverpool player running down the tunnel at Anfield and out on to the pitch and kicking the ball into the Kop with the fans chanting his name, which, is what every Liverpool fan would wish for.

This isn’t far removed from Bleasdale’s later works about the city of Liverpool Boys from the Blackstuff in its depiction of the people and the hopes and aspirations of said people, and is worth watching as a social document along with Black Stuff of eighties Liverpool as well as an entertaining comedy drama.

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