The theme song to this is classic managing to sum up the basic plot of the book in under a minute while some very cute stop motion animation takes place. Adrian is 13 and ¾, he has spots and feckless parents. Even The Dog (that’s its name The Dog) gets more attention than him.
Adrian’s best friend is Nigel who has a mullet and a walkman. His grandmother nags and his mother Pauline (Julie Walters) is having an affair with the oily Mr Lucas who lives across the street. Mr Lucas’ estranged wife ends up in a Women’s Refuge and nobody seems to care why. But the Refuge women do stand outside Mr Lucas’ house and sing an insulting song at him. Still Adrian has a crush on new girl Pandora despite her sour face and gimlet eyes. Adrian gets a paper route and finds out where Pandora lives and watches her ride her pony. His boss Mr Cherry gives him free skin magazines for his good work on the paper route.
Then his life goes downhill again when he joins the school’s Good Samaritans Club (to get out of maths class) and ends up tending foul unwashed pensioner Bert Baxter and his aggressive dog Sabre. The theme song summed that duo up like this: “My friend Berty’s much too old and his dog’s beyond control.” which is all you need to know.
Pauline and George’s marriage breaks down and Pauline and Mr Lucas (who gives himself the nickname Bimbo) plan to run off together. This leads to George and Bimbo having a fist fight in the front garden before Bimbo and Pauline run away to Sheffield causing onlooking delighted neighbours to shout: “Give the smarmy bugger one for me George!”
Then on top of all this school bully Barry Kent (Chris Gascoyne) beats up Adrian demanding 25 pence a day or else. Adrian takes comfort in writing his terrible poetry. Then more bad things happen: Barry Kent shoves him into the school swimming pool, George loses his job and the Mole’s electricity is cut off. Still Adrian’s grandmother sorts out Barry Kent and gets Adrian’s money back. This was good.
This was laugh out loud funny and hasn’t dated much. Still there are some 1980’s moments like the milk truck with glass bottles. Mr Lucas selling his house for £30,000 and Nigel’s house having hideous 1980’s interior design like a leopard print carpet.
“She isn’t an intellectual, she hasn’t washed my shorts and it’s PE tomorrow.”
“Her name’s Pandora but she likes to be called Box. Don’t ask me why.”
“Divorce? Poor Mr Lucas, now he’ll have to do his own washing and stuff.”
“I hate fresh air!”
“I don’t expect them to understand its like being in love, they’ve been married for 14 years.”
“I’ll have my thesis published and I’ll send a copy to Barry Kent. Perhaps by then he’ll have learned to read.”
“I don’t want to do mouth to mouth resuscitation next week. I might end up with Barry Kent.”
“I dreamt I stabbed Lucas to death with the toothpick on my pen knife. It was the best dream I’ve had for ages.”
Adrian is tired of his bedroom with its Noddy wallpaper and decides to paint it black. Naturally he does a terrible job. George moves his girlfriend Doreen Slater and her vile son Maxwell in. Adrian stages a red sock protest at school and Pandora joins in until the vile headmaster Mr Scruton puts a stop to it.
Adrian meets Pandora’s yummy-mummy and yummy-daddy. The actress playing Pandora cannot act and Sabre is almost as tall as her. The curmudgeon Bert has to go to hospital. As a result of the red sock/Bert incidents, Adrian and Pandora are now dating. This was okay, there’s no sign of Rick Lemon the youth club leader in this adaptation.
“Vitamins?!? They didn’t exist when I was a lad and I’m alright.”
“It’s a skinny woman and a miserable looking kid.”
“Get lost Noddy!”
“How disgusting, let me see.”
Adrian has tonsillitis. The Singh family move into Mr Lucas’ old house. Bert gets out of hospital and moves in with the Mole’s and then the Singh’s after George kicks him out due to his snoring. Pandora goes on holiday to Tunisia. For the first time Barry Kent wears the proper school uniform. The postman makes sarcastic remarks.
There is a street party for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, in a scene that looks creepy in hindsight a woman hopes Diana will be lucky in love. Grandmother Mole gets annoyed when everyone critiques Diana’s ugly wedding dress (it was ugly and creased). Pandora calls Adrian from Tunisia and reverses the charges.
Rat Fink Lucas, Pauline and Adrian go on a barge holiday. In the book they went to Scotland which was much better and far funnier especially Adrian’s reaction to Rat Fink Lucas falling into the river. Adrian meets Hamish and they share square ice cream cones, how very 1980s. This was dull.
“This lager tastes like ferret’s pee.”
“Mummy’s been bitten by a camel.”
“This is what comes of going on holiday with philistines.”