You remember Franny Scully don’t you ?
Back in Liverpool in 1984 ? The kid who was always sagging it. Always had run-in’s with the school caretaker (who looked like a vampire) and with the law.
Scully had a very vivid imagination and throughout the series run there would be surreal scenes born out of conversations and thoughts that he had – such as with the caretaker, nicknamed Dracula, would be chasing him around in full cape and fangs.
Still don’t remember him ? Have a look at this clip of Franny introducing a couple members of his family:
Yeah now you do… The mini-series on Channel 4 written by Alan Bleasdale, one of the holy trinity of Scouse playwrights (the other two being Carla Lane and Willy Russell) at that time.
Let’s start at the beginning though – The idea for this character started back in the 1970’s when Bleasdale was writing short stories that were aired on Radio Merseyside.
Then in 1978 the BBC produced it as a Play For Today with Andrew (also known as Drew) Schofield as the title character and his best mate, the slow witted Mooey crashing a New Years party. The play was all drama as opposed to what it became some years later.
Before the Scully idea made it’s return to the screen, Bleasdale had a success with another of his Play For Today scripts which was made into a mini-series: Boys From The Blackstuff was set, like nearly all his other writings, in his home city.
With some harsh views, but with black humour, it looked at the economic effects of Thatcherism on Liverpool with high unemployment and a sense of abandonment and loss of hope. Each episode focused on a different character and there was one particular bloke who everybody still remembers to this day…
Yosser Hughes is a man driven to the edge of his sanity by the loss of his job, his wife, the authorities continued attempts to take his children away from him and his constant attempts at salvaging his male pride (often the main give-away of his insecurity). His catchphrases, “Gizza’ job!” and “I can do that!” became part of the popular consciousness of the Eighties, summing up the mood of many who sought desperately for work during the era.
Go on…gizza job:
» Link to video
Yosser talks to his lookalike – Graeme Souness:
» Link to video
That footballing idea was used two years later when Channel 4 commissioned Scully with the title character and his obsession to play for Liverpool FC. Various players would be seen in episodes, including specifically Kenny Dalglish who Scully saw in his imagination and talked to him, but Dalglish never replied because he was imaginary.. There was even one time when Franny had a vision of Kenny dressed as a fairy godmother…
Sadly I couldn't find any screencaps of this moment.... Other Liverpool legends to appear in the series were Bob Paisley and Ian St John.
As you saw in the first clip of Scully introducing his family there was Jean Boht, who went on to play Ma Nellie Boswell in Carla Lane’s Bread.
There were other now familiar names in the series, including Gary Bleasdale (Alan’s cousin) and Mark McGann (who both played Scousers in Harry Enfield sketches), as well as Cathy Tyson and Gilly Coman – who also played the first Aveline in Bread but sadly died in July this year (2010).
Gilly Coman in Scully was Marie, the object of his affection. You can see her below as well as Scully’s bessie mate the always picked upon Mooey:
Another family member Scully introduced us to was his brother Henry, who you can also see in the family photo below. As he says in video the brother Henry isn’t quite right, his Mam fell down two flights of stairs with him when they were leaving the maternaty ward and then his Dad dropped him on his head. Henry is obsessed with trains.
If you haven’t spotted it by now Henry was played by one Elvis Costello, who also provided the title music to the show.
As mentioned Scully’s one and only ambition was to play for Liverpool F.C, and at the time this was the mid-1980’s all-conquering Liverpool side. In the opening titles we see an imaginary scene (or is it real ?) of Scully as a member of the Liverpool squad in the dressing room and the going down the tunnel to run onto the Anfield pitch with his fellow players. For the Kirkby born Drew Schofield this was a dream come true for him, never mind his character:
“…I also got to lead the team out in front of the Kop and that was an amazing experience. All of a sudden the crowd just started singing ‘There’s only one Franny Scully,’ it couldn’t have been scripted better. People thought it was planned but I can honestly tell you it wasn’t.”
» Yoliverpool.com Forum
– Lots more related videos on the Drew Schofield video channel on You Tube. » Elvis Costello – Turning The Town Red
Info for the above article also gathered from:
Extra Time – Other music released around that period:» The Imposter – Pills And Soap » The Imposter – Peace In Our Time