The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Age 13¾ (ITV, 1985)/The Growing Pains Of Adrian Mole (ITV, 1987)
This is another show that I don’t remember much of from the time, but because I am always interested in discovering quirky shows, especially from the 80s, this seemed to be another one that was worth a go. The character of Adrian Mole was created by Sue Townsend, and he first appeared in the early-80s, and which point he was called Nigel Mole, although this was soon changed because there was a similar character around at the time called Nigel Molesworth.
I must admit that I haven’t read too much of the books, but I know that they have been consistently popular, and he came to TV in 1985. Adrian is at the age, where, to use a euphemism, he is beginning to discover the world around him. To put it a little more bluntly, he is starting to think about girls, and is wondering why they are now making him go all tingly down there. Whatever could it all mean?
Adrian realises that one girl inparticular is doing this to him, his classmate Pandora. Indeed, the theme music was “Profoundly In Love With Pandora”, which was a hit single for Ian Dury in October 1985. He decides to keep track of all this in a diary, which has as much doodling on the pages as it does writing, where he tries to make sense of late-20th century Britain. Being able to write things down gives him an opportunity to help him through all this, and he is fond of writing poetry too. We are also able to hear his inner thoughts.
Adrian lives in Leicester and we meet a few other characters, including his parents whose marriage is in trouble, the elderly Bert who he befriends, and his school friend Nigel. Adrian doesn’t really like going to school, he’s not that popular, all he wants to do is try his best to be an adequate pupil. You could say that the awkward time in life of becoming a teenager hit him harder than most. Pandora has a pony, and all he’s got is spots and a hole in his sock. It’s just his luck.
Adrian was played by Gian Sammarco, who after this did a little more acting along with some TV presenting, but he had left the screen by the early-90s. The first series was much acclaimed, opening with an hour-long episode, and also around this time there was a stage show, a computer game, and plenty of parodies, which all helped to keep the sales of the books healthy, and proof of the success was that suddenly people were trying to work out their age in quarters.
There were some changes for the second series. Now approaching 15, Adrian has begun to take an interest in politics, Pandora is still giving him those feelings, and by this point he is so angst-riddled he hasn’t realised that his mum has turned into someone else. Now that really is awkward. There were two series of Adrian Mole, they were made on location with no laughter track, and they have been released on DVD by Network, although they contain no extras.
Almost 15 years on in 2001, Adrian returned to the screen in The Cappuccino Years, this time on BBC1. Adrian was now played by Stephen Mangan, who has gone on to have lots more success in various comedy shows over the past two decades. Adrian is now approaching 30, although he is a little wiser he is still rather curious about life, and ultimately he is still rather fond of Pandora.