TV UK TV

Running Scared (BBC-1 1986 with Julia Millbank and Christopher Ellison)

UK / BBC One / 6×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 15 January – 19 February 1986

Writer: Bernard Ashley / Costumes: Maggie Hall / Theme Music: Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush / Production Design: Graeme Thomson / Executive Producer: Paul Stone / Director: Marilyn Fox

“It’s like at school, if you don’t tell on the bullies, nothing ever gets stopped.”

In the well remembered teen drama serial Running Scared young Paula Prescott and her family face trouble when they are targetted by major villain Charlie Elkin. The problems begin when Paula’s grandfather Sam, a taxi driver, gets caught up in a bank raid pulled off by Elkin and his gang. The gang’s getaway car breaks down and they take over Sam’s cab, in the kerfuffle Elkin’s glasses break and fall off, getting left behind in the cab. Not wishing to get involved Sam hides the glasses from the police but Elkin is determined to get them back. When Sam later dies it is left to Paula to stay one step ahead of Elkin and bring him to justice.

Meanwhile also part of Elkin’s mob is Paula’s sly cousin Brian who works as part of Elkin’s protection racket gang and Paula’s best friend Narinder is an Indian whose family own a shop that is being targeted by Elkin. As events come to a head Paula faces pressure from all sides to “do the right thing”.

Filmed completely on location Running Scared was pretty strong viewing for the children’s audience with some Sweeney-esque moments and some hard hitting moments, especially when Elkin’s mob ransack the Prescott house to find Elkin’s missing broken glasses. Chris Ellison is his usual charming self as the villainous Elkin, the kind of role he plays so well.

The great thing about Bernard Ashley is his wonderful naturalistic touch, his stories are of everyday people, more often than not working class, who find themselves out of their comfort zone. There is much made of the racial angle in the drama too, something that was very much striking a chord in multicultural 1980’s Britain, Elkin seems to make a habit of targetting minority groups.

cast
The Prescott Family
JULIA MILLBANK as Paula
FRED BRYANT as Grandad
DESMOND McNAMARA as Mick
MAUREEN SWEENEY as Dolly
ANTHONY GORRY as Dean

The Sidhu Family
AMARJIT DHILLON as Narinder
RENU SETNA as Pratap Singh Sidhu
RANI SINGH as Kamal Kaur Sidhu

The Butler Family
TONY CAUNTER as Frank Butler
PENNY MORRELL as Ellie Butler
SIMON ADAMS as Brian Butler

The Gang
CHRIS ELLISON as Charlie Elkin
HETTY BAYNES as Leila
ALAN FORD as Ron Martin
ALAN TALBOT as Fred Barratt

The Law
JAMES COSMO as Detective Inspector McNeill

The Community
BADI UZZAMAN as Shopkeeper
JASON NORMAN as Tommy
DAMON DOYLE as Scott
MARK MONERO as Sixth Former
MAUREEN TAYLOR as Girl at Disco
SPENCER CREASE as Boy at Disco

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