Posts Tagged ‘autobiographical TV’

The Moran sisters and their alter egos from Raised by Wolves image credit Colin Hutton Channel 4

The Moran sisters and their alter egos from Raised by Wolves
image credit Colin Hutton Channel 4

This week’s quintet of telly treats features series or TV movies that recount real life experiences of growing up in England (and in one case, Ireland). Whether set in the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s, nostalgia is bolstered by the music, fashion and pop culture icons of the given time. Let’s look at what it was like to be a UK teenager through the decades…


Danny and the Human Zoo – This recent TV movie is a fictionalized account of the origins of comedian and actor Lenny Henry’s career. Written by Henry who also makes an appearance as the father of the Fearon family, this piece tells the story of 16-year-old Danny (Kacion Franklin) growing up in Dudley with his Jamaican immigrant family. Despite his talent for entertaining jokes and impersonations, Danny encounters prejudice (and violence) as well as young love and a surprisingly quick dose of early fame. Those who remember the 70’s and 80’s era television talent show, New Faces, might recall that Lenny Henry actually won the competition back in 1975.



Cradle to Grave – This new series, also set in the 70’s, is based on the recollections of comedy writer, panel show guest and radio DJ, Danny Baker’s early days in South London.  (The characters’ names have not been changed to protect the innocent.) This series portrays more carefree times when council estates weren’t grim, soulless places; when fathers who may have been dealing in illegal goods were still nice guys who didn’t beat their wives and children or leave them altogether and teenage lads just wanted to impress the birds with their tonic trousers. Peter Kay plays Spud, Danny’s scheming but goodhearted dad. Laurie Kynaston is young Daniel, a youth with high expectations which get dashed in embarrassing and comical ways.



Moone Boy – This semi-autobiographical sitcom is the creation of Irish actor Chris O’Dowd along with his writing partner Nick Vincent Murphy. It follows daydreamer Martin Moone (David Rawle), a boy on the verge of puberty who lives in Boyle with his parents and three older sisters. Is it any wonder he still has an imaginary friend, played by O’Dowd himself of course? Many of the episodes are tied to late 80’s/early 90’s historical events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and Ireland’s run for the World Cup.



My Mad Fat Diary -Move ahead to Lincolnshire in the mid-90’s and we meet the teenage version of radio broadcaster and writer Rae Earl. At just 16, Rae (Sharon Rooney) has had quite a harrowing time of it so far. She’s just been released from a four month stint in a psych ward for an eating disorder and other mental health related conditions, she’s having issues with her mid-life crisis mum (Claire Rushbrook) and she’s expending a lot energy trying to pretend to her new gang of friends that’s she’s completely fine. With the help of her therapist Kester (Ian Hart) and her diary, Rae tries her level best to live a normal teenage life full of music, partying and boys.



Raised by Wolves – TV presenter, critic and newspaper columnist Caitlin Moran and her sister Caroline share their account of adolescence in this present day sitcom loosely based on their unconventional upbringing in Wolverhampton. Sisters Germaine (Helen Monks) and Aretha (Alexa Davies) are the eldest of six children and very different personalities indeed. Della (Rebekah Staton) their single mum has a talent for DIY and a doomsday prepper outlook. While her children are technically home schooled students, Della’s a hands-off type of parent and mostly leaves them to mow the yard and teach themselves.


No matter which decade defines your youth, the nostalgia infused by the writers who lived these stories (more or less) is palpable. It’s a time of life that stays with us no matter how long we live or how far we run from it. Might as well get some laughs out if it, if we can, right?

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