What happens when four mates hit 50? They’ve still got their looks, they’ve got plenty of money and they’ve enough time on their hands to get up to all sorts of mischief. Manchild’s ageing lads will strike a chord with any bloke mourning the passing years and with all women who have to endure the resulting angst.
Leader of the pack is Terry, played by that master of the affable rogue, Nigel Havers. Terry has convinced himself that life has never been sweeter, now that he’s divorced and free to indulge his every whim. But real life keeps getting in the way. Anthony Head is James, a handsome, divorced, slightly dippy dentist. He must be dippy because he still regards Terry as his schoolboy hero. Don Warrington is Patrick. A committed sophisticate and career bachelor, he’s nevertheless concerned that there’s more to life than the relentless pursuit of fun. The fourth member of the group is Gary, played by Ray Burdis. Gary is different because he’s still married. But that doesn’t seem to stop him acting like he isn’t.
Part of Manchild’s appeal is the strong ensemble acting but Havers’ portrayal of Terry is a revelation for anyone who thought he could only play straight rotters, toffs and heroes. The role demands a sharp ironic edge and Havers is well up to providing it. He’s especially good in the asides to camera, which work even better because we know the man delivering them is an actor whose own charm and youthful looks have kept the wolf from his door for decades.
The manchildren are all supposed to be about 50 but, in fact, there’s a nine-year age spread between the four principal actors. You’d never know, though, which is a tribute to the performers and the high production values of the show. Born in 1958, Burdis is the baby of the bunch. Head comes next with a birthdate of 1954. Warrington (1952) was actually bang on the money when the first series was made in 2002. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Havers is the Manchild Daddy: he was born in 1949.
UK / BBC Two / 15×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 19 February 2002 – 15 April 2003
Writer: Nick Fisher / Producers: Sophie Clarke-Jervoise, Pete Thornton.
Nigel Havers as Terry
Anthony Head as James
Don Warrington as Patrick
Ray Burdis as Ray