Adrian Mole The Cappuccino Years (BBC1, 2001)
A while ago, I looked back at the two TV series that featured the famous (but fictional) teenage diarist Adrian Mole. The books by Sue Townsend were adapted for the screen in the mid-80s, and there were two series on ITV, which were rather well received. In the years since, there were more books, as Adrian reflected on how he was leaving his teenage years, but he still seemed to be baffled by the world around him.
His friends and family didn’t seem to help him really. But it was decided to turn another of these books into a TV sitcom, meaning that almost 15 years on from the last series, Adrian returned to the screen, this time on BBC1. He was now played by Stephen Mangan, who would go on to further success in several other shows, and became known for his catchphrase “oh, in off the red!”.
Despite being shown in 2001, The Cappuccino Years was actually set in 1997, and things have started to change in British politics somewhat. And a lot has changed in his life too. He is now about 30 years old, and works as a chef at a restaurant in London. He has been married, but he is now divorced, and he has a five-year-old son who lives with his parents who still bicker a lot.
He can’t help but notice though that Pandora, the girl who he was much in love with and gave him a lot of the first of his “funny feelings” that boys have at that age, has gone on to be rather successful by comparison, winning a seat in the recent election. He hopes that he can still play something a part in her life (what he hasn’t noticed though is that she has appeared to have turned into the woman who was in Friends and Cold Feet).
Although he may not be very spotty any more, it soon becomes clear that being an adult is a very difficult thing to do, and those teenage years suddenly seem so much better. There was a lot of excitement about the return of Adrian Mole to TV, with many keen to discover where he was in his life now (although the later books will have given a clue of course).
Mangan even got on to the cover of Radio Times, but ultimately some felt that although there were plenty of smart observations, this managed to lack the sparkle of the original series. One episode featured a guest appearance from Jeremy Paxman as host of Newsnight. Was there a DVD release? If there was, this passed me by, but an episode was repeated on BBC4 about a decade later.