Plodding through life in a dressing gown, eating Battenberg cake straight from the packet and getting a home-school education from the television, the six Garry children look out for each other.
They are growing up on a council estate in Wolverhampton, although this new sitcom pilot was filmed almost entirely in Manchester, with just a few ‘establishing’ shots in the Midlands.
Nonetheless, the mere sight of Mander House on the TV and the yam yam accents left viewers in no doubt that these were characters as Black Country as grey paes and bacon.
Raised By Wolves was written by two Wolverhampton-born sisters, Caitlin and Caroline Moran. It is based on their own upbringing in a council house in Penn, where they were schooled at home and got their education from reading huge amounts of books.
Caitlin is now a successful author and prolific columnist for The Times. Caroline is a web designer. Both of them live in London but retain an affection for the city where they spent their formative years.
Most of the action of this pilot took place within the family home, where the kids watched other youngsters going to school with a mixture of pity, jealousy, curiosity and fear before watching horror films all day.
The younger siblings were made to put on ‘trauma prevention hoods’ (basically pillow cases over their heads) to protect them from the gory bits.
The girls were all named after their mother’s feminist icons, the boy Wyatt after a character from a Kevin Costner movie. The Morans wanted to show the world that there are intellectuals living on council estates.
And the kids were certainly intelligent. As well as the horror movies, they filled their days reading Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, presumably at their own pace and not in a classroom where everyone can only go as fast as the most unruly kid.
The accents, particularly Helen Monks’ as Germaine, may have sounded odd to ears accustomed to the dulcet tones of the Black Country. She’s from Birmingham after all.
It’s practically abroad.
But to the rest of the country, they will probably have been spot on. People from around these parts will have reacted in the same way as they would hearing themselves on a recording and wondered, ‘do I really sound like that’? Yes, you do.
Here though, the accent wasn’t the butt of the joke. Nor was Wolverhampton, for once.
As the kids would say, ‘shamazing’.
There is something wonderful about hearing such well-considered, intelligent dialogue such as Germaine’s and Aretha’s (Alexa Davies) delivered in a broad Midlands accent.
There were arguments about totalitarian regimes punctuated with crude sniggers about a ‘massive butt’ and blackheads. And there was the awkwardness of Germaine being in a shared bedroom while fantasising about the local yob her biological urges had driven her to admire and keeping his discarded Tango can as a shrine. With four kids squeezed in one room, the family was obviously not a candidate for the bedroom tax, however much their mother would moan about David Cameron.
An early highlight of the pilot was Penkridge-educated Rebekah Staton, the narrator on Don’t Tell The Bride, playing mum Della and admonishing a woman who has just chucked her supermarket trolley in a hedge.
We could barely hear her because of the fag in her mouth as she envisaged a scenario in which the loutish woman would find herself after the apocalypse, in a world without power, offering ‘sexual favours for candles’.
We will have to wait and see whether or not Channel 4 commissions Raised By Wolves as a full series.
But hopefully the TV bosses won’t dither too long. This is a comedy all about adolescence. And for the young actors it will pass seemingly as quickly as this 30-minute one-off pilot.
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