In Who Cares 15 year old Karen is a serial runaway and is appearing in the juvenile magistrates court on vagrancy charges and to decide whether she needs to be taken into a care home until she is old enough.
Her parents, despite being in court, seem to have abdicated responsibility for her. The fact that her mother has a new partner and a new baby hasn’t helped the situation but it’s the mother who is surprisingly least interested in taking her home. Her biological father is a merchant seaman and not home very often.
Matters are further complicated when Karen reveals she is pregnant. She is put into care for three weeks whilst a report is made. It turns out that the father of the baby is willing to stand by her and his mother is willing to let her stay with them. The magistrates court makes a decision to put her under the care of local social services until she is 18. The biggest problem is that Karen doesn’t actually want anybody’s help.
An interesting look inside the juvenile magistrate court system with a sympathetic performance from Bernard Hepton as Chairman of the Court.
The TV Times for the week had an interview with newcomer Verna Harvey (who played Karen and was 19 at the time).
Harvey had made her breakthrough as one one of the children in The Nightcomers with Marlon Brando and popped up in quite a few series during the 1970’s most notably a regular role on Beryl’s Lot. As part of her research for the role of Karen, Verna attended quite a few juvenile magistrate court hearings.
UK / ITV – Thames / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Monday 1 May 1972 at 9.00pm
Writer: Roger Parkes / Production Design: Bernard Spencer / Director: David Wickes
Series: Six Days of Justice Season 1 Episode 4
Bernard Hepton as Chairman
Verna Harvey as Karen
Vivien Heilbron as Miss McCawley
Jon Laurimore as Mr Carlton
Michael Lees as Clerk of the Court
Brian Peck as Frederick Green
Pamela Alan as Dr Thorndyke
Stanley Stewart as Usher
Marjie Lawrence as Mrs Carlton
Karin MacCarthy as P.W. Fraser
Kenneth Gilbert as Warrant Officer
Kerry Marsh as Mrs Murphy
Christopher Banks as Donald Strong
Colin Daniels as Colin Blatch
John Watters as Joe Murphy
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