"P, Tang Yang Kipperbang uuuuhhhh!"
, 20 Aug 2007
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
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I was beginning to think I had dreamt it. P,Tang Yang Kipperbang first appeared on Channel Four in 1982 as part of the First Loves season .Written by Jack Rosenthal of Londons Burning fame it was shown that November then disappeared ,though it was released on video and may have popped up on Film Four .Now its out on DVD and I have final irrefutable proof to all those people I have mentioned it to down the years , who have looked at me like I have sprouted a Boris Johnson haircut , that it wasnt some figment of my cricket mad -sex obsessed imagination.
Cricket and sex are pertinent to P,Tang Yang Kipperbang,, unlikely team mates Ill concede but there you go. Schoolboy Alan Duckworth(John Albasiny) in the England of the late 1940,s dreams of hitting the wining runs in an Ashes series .He also dreams of kissing his beautiful classmate Ann (Abigail Cruttneden) who is going out with the years smarmy pin up Geoffrey (Maurice Dee) who share a toe curling ritual every time they part . His frustrations , ennui , desires are mirrored with a cricket commentary going on in his head , voiced by the late great John Arlott. So frustration and failure are met with a duck in his imaginary game, and as he suffers many disappointments and failures gives him the nickname Quack Quack Duckworth , though its also an obvious play on his name.
Duckworth has a confidant in the schools groundkeeper Tommy(Garry Cooper) who injects some working class realism into the script( Its a very middle class tale) with his assertion that girls like sex as well . Tommy has something going on with acerbic teacher Miss Land (Alison Steadman) and their relationship provides a more pragmatic element that counteracts Duckworths blue sky reverie about love and girls. His chance to get closer to Anne comes via the school play where his role requires him to kiss Anns character at the end. But as he lies in bed at night , masturbating hand clad in a enormous boxing glove , he wonders whether he can go through with it while at the same playing out the scene in golden soft focus over and over.
P,Tang Yang KipperBang is a skilfully handled tale of an adolescents rites of passage. Some will view its conclusion that dreams lead to disillusionment as depressing rather than poignant but its told with such humour and delicacy it achieves a touching timbre and its very well acted by all especially Steadman and Albasiny who perfectly conveys the sweating awkwardness of adolescence. It may seem a little innocent and gauche to todays audience but has undeniable charm . Best of all its filled with moments of tremendous humour . Duckworths, friends Shaz(Christopher Karaliss) and Abbo,s( Mark Brailsford) reactions to Alan having to kiss Ann -Spewosity up-throw or Puke Vomitude-inosty show the sort of verbal dexterity that has become the signature of writers like Armando Ianucci or Chris Morris. The two workmen observing Duckworths playing out of his fantasy cricket career as he comes to and from school give a priceless down-to-earth window into the drama as they shake their heads in bafflement at his cavorting
Then there is that title . A reference to the greeting the boys give each other , accompanied by a slow motion raised hand and an Uuuuhhh .Its completely stupid, infantile and elitist yet I have never forgotten it. Despite this being set in a place and time I have never experienced it sticks in the head like
.well a first kiss. Its one of the best things Channel Four has ever put its name to which makes it even more of a pity the channel has descended into the tawdry disarray its in now.
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