Began as a play (or series of three?) in a drama slot
Series One 1998 (six episodes)
Series Two 1999 (six episodes)
Alex Ferguson’s warm comic drama set on Tyneside in the 1930s and 40s, this series appeared to have an autobiographical aspect but was also given to flashes of surrealism, perhaps indicating the child’s-eye view of its central figure. Young Lecky Ferguson (Gareth Brown) is growing up in a penniless but close-knit family in wartime Jarrow, and relies for explanations of the world’s many mysteries on the titular Uncle Freddie, played by Shaun Prendergast. The setting and characters were all very closely observed, although the plot developments were certainly not in the usual mould of realist drama: in the first episode, for example, Lecky mistakenly shoots down a biplane with his catapult, while the outright surreal (or perhaps allegorical) elements were provided in the form of encounters with real-life heroes and villains of the period, including Churchill, Oswald Moseley and Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Series Two was actually a prequel, set a year or so before the start of the war, and revolving around plans to move to the clean air and plentiful work of Reading, the recovery of an immensely valuable penny piece, and Lecky’s unrequited love for Charlotte MacAtominey. Besides writing the series, Alex Ferguson also narrated, in the role of his namesake character’s older self.