BBC Radio 4, 22 May 2012
Set in 1979, at a time before the creation of the National Curriculum,
the Health and Safety Act, and anti-racist and anti-sexist strategies, Jane Purcell's comedy focused on a school trip made
by a bunch of comprehensive school students and two teachers, ex-army cook Peter Gunn (Ralph Ineson), and Maggie Beacham (Lydia
Initially the trip proves chaotic, with the students perpetually misbehaving, with
Maggie trying and generally failing to keep them in order. Peter disciplines them through regular shouting, but few of the
students actually respect him, even if they respond to his orders. The trip goes from bad to worse: the party end up trouble
with the police, poach rabbits, and take drugs. Young Ellen (Amaka Okafor) has a miscarriage and is rushed to hospital, while
Ferret (Joseph Drake) discovers to horror that Peter is his natural father.
And yet out of chaos some kind of perverse order emerges. Left to fend for themselves
while Peter and Maggie take Ellen to hospital, the rest of the students manage quite happily. The entire party goes to a local
Wimpy Bar and toast themselves, while resolving to keep the previous night's misdemeanours under wraps (they were simply
"going off course"). Peter makes sure that Ellen's abusive boyfriend receives his just deserts.
Jane Purcell's comedy lurches from crisis to crisis; we have to admire the adults'
and the students' ability to respond to them. Redolent of the late 1970s, complete with music from Ian Dury (amongst
others), The Eggy Doylers (a contemporary euphemism for "being a twat") was a lively afternoon's romp.