Cider With Rosie is based on the late Laurie Lee‘s novel, partly autobiographical, telling the story of his growing up coming-of-age story set in the Cotswolds, in Gloucestershire, staring off during World War I and continuing afterwards.
However, the actual scene featuring the drinking of cider with Rosie only featured in one scene. Is this down to BBC cutbacks? In fact, I was watching Cider With Rosie while drinking Carling with Rosie O’Donnell. She was giving me that “epic fail” look. I’m a disgrace.
Seriously, though, this is another in the series of BBC literary adaptations where I’d never read the book, since I’m not one for books.
It begins with Laurie as a young boy, known as Lol (Georgie Smith), living with brother Jack (Dylan Turland) and sister Frances (Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen), as well as his half-sisters, Marj (Emma Curtis), Doth (Bebe Cave) and Phyll (Georgia Brinkworth), from his father’s previous marriage before he married Lol’s mother, Annie (Samantha Morton).
He was very sick as a young boy, at one point leading to everyone thinking he had died, making me think Jack was joking around at first when he went upstairs to tell Annie what the family were up to, ending with “Lol’s dead, turned yellow”. There were happier times, however, such as enjoying an endless summer, including reading books with Frances, but then falling ill again. However, Frances died at a very early age. In this adaptation, she was seven, but on reading up about this afterwards, apparently she was actually 4. Back to this version, and it was strange that they wouldn’t tell Lol the moment she died, leaving it until afterwards. We’re told many children died at the time. Thankfully, modern medicine has improved life for everyone, but it’s still got a way to go.
Lol then goes to school and finds himself sat between Jo Jenkins (Isabella Polkinghorne) and Rosie Burdock (Libby Easton), who he’ll be in class with for the next 10 years, with the older Lol, Jo and Rosie played by Archie Cox, Maya Gerber and Ruby Ashbourne Serkis, resctively.
His reminiscences include WWI private James (Billy Howle) staying with them. plus the horrible Miss B, best known as Crabby (Jessica Hynes), the children ditching class to go and follow funeral processions, and soldiers shooting at clouds in the hope that bursting them will make it rain. These were not enlightened times, especially when a young Lol had to have it explained to him that a kiss between a woman and a man isn’t quite when his Mum gives him a kiss goodnight…
Elsewhere, in his older times, Lol fancied fancies Jo at first, but then since Rosie winds him up in class by telling Miss B that he hasn’t really got measles, he just gave himself nettle rash in the fields in a bid to miss a maths test, they gives each other the giggles later on when he tickles her in a barn, realising that he’s moved on to her.
After rival grannies (there’s a film in that title) Granny Trill (Annette Crosbie) and Granny Wallon (June Whitfield) died so close in time to each other, we learn that Lol didn’t end up with Rosie in the end. She married a soldier and he never saw her again. And despite their father abandoning them, Annie never stopped hoping he’d return, but he never did. Finally, he loved away from the village, which was all due to change due to technology moving apace, including those car things that you see on roads nowadays.
Overall, it passed a reasonable 90 minutes, and was reasonably acted by all, but it was nothing to go write home and back and forth in time about. And as with the other recent adaptations, there’s a lot more story to be discovered which wasn’t featured here. But even then, there were times when 90 minutes felt too long.
Director: Philippa Lowthorpe
Producer: Helen Gregory
Screenplay: Ben Vanstone (based on the novel by Laurie Lee)
Music: Peter Salem
Annie Lee: Samantha Morton
Lol: Archie Cox
Rosie: Ruby Ashbourne Serkis
Granny Trill: Annette Crosbie
Crabby: Jessica Hynes
Granny Wallon: June Whitfield
Private James Harris: Billy Howle
Young Lol: Georgie Smith
Narrator (Laurie Lee): Timothy Spall
Frances: Teddie Rose Malleson-Allen
Young Jack: Dylan Turland
Young Phyll: Georgia Brinkworth
Marge: Emma Curtis
Doth: Bebe Cave
Mrs Moore: Shola Adewusi
Vicar: Matthew Steer
Miss Buckley: Sarah Sweeney
Young Jo: Isabella Polkinghorne
Young Rosie: Libby Easton
Jo: Maya Gerber
Spadge Hopkins: Jack Harris
Jack: Finn Bennett
Phyl: Ines De Clercq
Squire: Bob Goody
Vincent: Anthony Cozens
Cabbage Stump Charlie: Ian Drysdale
Policeman: Jake Haywood
Military Policeman: James Inkling
Lizzy: Rafaella Hutchinson
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.