In this superb period drama series it is 1934 and the setting is Yorkshire where ten year old Sam Wilson and his mother have to go and live with his grandparents in the small mining town of Skellerton when his dad runs off to Canada with another woman. It’s hard times though, Grandad jack has been out of work for years and his Sam’s uncle George has only just found work after five years on the dole. His other Uncle, Frank, is luckier, he went to university and is a teacher.
By the time Sam is fourteen he too is destined for life “down pit” but he is determined to escape the confines of Skellerton. By the time of the second season Sam has become an adult and played by Mark McManus, he eventually joins the merchant Navy and spends time in Germany in the early fifties before returning home to marriage to Sarah and a job in an engineering works.
Sam was John Finch’s follow up to A Family At War which was a huge success for Granada. Finch had actually come up with the format many years before and submitted it to Granada as a one off play called Dark Pastures. This was passed up by Granada but produced by Associated Rediffusion and broadcast 15 May 1958 as part of the Television Playhouse strand. This featured quite a few of the characters that would make it in to the series 15 years later.
The idea itself was heavily based on Finch’s own upbringing, the setting of Skellerton clearly based on the Yorkshire town of Featherstone where Finch was brought up.
The series is full of stand out performances not least in the first season young Kevin Moreton who plays Sam, he had never actually acted professionally before but more than holds his own against mighty talents like Ray Smith, James Hazledine and of course Mark McManus who plays Sam in the second and third series.
Interior mining scenes were filmed filmed at a private colliery in Huddersfield with exteriors filming at Gin Pit which was a one time mining village close to Wigan in Lancashire that happened to have two closed collieries and a village of some seventy houses that hadn’t changed too much since the 1930s.
UK / ITV – Granada / 39×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 12 June 1973 – 25 August 1975
Creator and Writer: John Finch / Theme Music: John McCabe / Producer: Michael Cox
Kevin Moreton as Sam Wilson (season 1)
Mark McManus as Sam Wilson (seasons 2-3)
Michael Goodliffe as Jack Barraclough
Maggie Jones as Polly Barraclough
Ray Smith as George Barraclough (seasons 1-2)
Alethea Charlton as Ethel Barraclough
Frank Mills as Toby Wilson
Barbara Ewing as Dora Wilson
James Hazledine as Frank Barraclough
Jennifer Hilary as Sarah Wilson (seasons 2-3)
John Price as Alan Dakin (seasons 2-3)
Dorothy White as Eileen Dakin (seasons 2-3)
Peter Brown as Les Dakin (seasons 2-3)
June Ritchie as Jean Tufton (season 2)
Ruth Holden as Edie Mason
Michelle Dibnah as Pat Barraclough (season 2)
Jan Harvey as Pat Barraclough (season 3)
Alan David as Maurice Naylor (season 3)
Cherith Mellor as Cassie Crossman (season 3)
Michael Lees as Peter Crossman (season 3)
Windsor Davies as Billy Tripp (season 3)
SEASON ONE 12 June – 4 September 1973
1. A WAY OF LIFE (12 Jun 73)
2. POOR LAW (19 Jun 73)
3. LEAVING HOME (26 Jun 73)
4. FOR EVER AND EVER AND EVER AND EVER… (3 Jul 73)
5. A DAY TO REMEMBER (10 Jul 73)
6. THE COST OF LIVING (17 Jul 73)
7. OUT OF THE BLUE (24 Jul 73)
8. UNITED WE STAND (31 Jul 73)
9. THE BEGINNING OF WINTER (7 Aug 73)
10. WHERE THE HEART IS (14 Aug 73)
11. HOME FROM HOME (21 Aug 73)
12. NO GOING BACK (28 Aug 73)
13. BREADWINNERS (4 Sep 73)
SEASON TWO 16 May – 8 August 1974
1. A NEW WORLD (16 May 74)
2. LEGACY (23 May 74)
3. SHAPE YOURSELF AROUND IT (30 May 74)
4. UNDER A CLOUD (6 Jun 74)
5. HEAD AND HEART (13 Jun 74)
6. STAY SINGLE AND LIVE FOREVER (20 Jun 74)
7. CREDIT (27 Jun 74)
8. THE SINS OF THE FATHERS (4 Jul 74)
9. THE WORLD AS IT IS (11 Jul 74)
10. LAND (18 Jul 74)
11. HALF A LOAF (25 Jul 74)
12. TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK (1 Aug 74)
13. MOVING ON (8 Aug 74)
SEASON THREE 2 June – 25 August 1975
1. GOD SENT SUNDAY (2 Jun 75)
2. IN THE MIDST OF PLENTY (9 Jun 75)
3. COMPENSATION (16 Jun 75)
4. BONFIRE NIGHT (23 Jun 75)
5. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US (30 Jun 75)
6. WHAT YOU CARE IS WHAT YOU DO (7 Jul 75)
7. GAINS AND LOSSES (14 Jul 75)
8. THE HONEST GENERATION (21 Jul 75)
9. OPTING OUT (28 Jul 75)
10. HOME THOUGHTS FROM ABROAD (4 Aug 75)
11. THE NEXT IN LINE (11 Aug 75)
12. PROPOSALS (18 Aug 75)
13. ENDS AND MEANS (25 Aug 75)
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