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28 October 2014

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The Rotters' Club

Cast of The Rotters' Club

Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais' adaptation of Jonathon Coe's novel follow a group of Birmingham teenagers, and their families, through the 1970s.

It's 1974 - a time of class conflict, racial tension and strike action - not to mention Blue Nun, prog-rock and Black Forest gateau.

Three 15-year-old mates, Ben (Geoff Breton), Doug (Nicholas Shaw) and Philip (Rasmus Hardiker) are at grammar school in Birmingham. Whilst Doug's passion for left-wing politics isn't shared by Ben and Philip (who are mainly interested in getting their prog-rock band off the ground), they are united by a complete lack of success with the opposite sex.

Ben Trotter (Geoff Breton)

Life for their parents is more complex. Ben's father Colin (Kevin Doyle) is in middle-management at strike-ridden British Leyland. Also working there is Doug's father Bill (Hugo Speer), an active union shop steward, who's having an affair with colleague Miriam (Christine Tremarco). Philip's mum Barbara (Sarah Lancashire) is being pursued by the charming Nigel Plumb (Julian Rhind-Tutt), Philip's art teacher.

Ben's sister Lois (Alice O'Connell) suffers terrible tragedy when she is caught up in the IRA bomb in a pub in Birmingham city centre; her fiance Malcolm (James Daffern) is killed.

Doug Anderton (Nicholas Shaw)

As Ben, Doug and Claire progress to the sixth-form, they start work on the school paper. Be's hopelessly lusting after Cicely Boyd (Alice Eve), while his and Philip's prog-rock band  become a punk outfit.  Things are going well for Doug, who is invited down to London by NME and sent out to cover a punk gig.

Adultery simmers on for the parents as the boys get their first tastes of love in the upper sixth. Ben finally gets it together with Cicely, only to lose her shortly after to the punk singer from his old band. At an end of term party, Ben wakes up in a wardrobe with a girl called Jennifer (Lucy Close). They are incompatible,  but Ben starts dating her anyway to help distract him from pining for Cicely. Eventually he dumps her on Doug's advice. Philip's love life is rather better - he gets together with Claire.

Then the Trotter family go to Wales on holiday - the same place Cicely is recovering from a bout of glandular fever. After encouragement from sister Lois, Ben treks through the Welsh countryside to see Cicely - and they are reunited!

Philip Chase (Rasmus Hardiker)

Ben returns to school to collect his exam results, hand-in-hand with Cicely - his triumph witnessed by Philip and Doug and the rest of the Sixth Form. Ben's delighted to learn that Doug and Claire have finally got together. It's a glorious moment, but one that surely can't last.

Jonathan Coe on the inspiration for The Rotters Club:

"I wanted to write a book which presented a version of the 1970s as I remembered them: away from the comfortably nostalgic, retro, kitsch, glam-rock-and-spacehoppers version that television always seemed to offer us."

Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais discus their working relationship:

"We feel very fortunate to have found a working relationship that has lasted longer than most marriages. We have our occasional differences, but they are never acrimonious. Everything we write has to go through a double filter process - we both have to like every setting and every line, which cuts out a certain amount of junk. It's better not to analyse this too much - if something works, be grateful that it does."


Geoff Breton
Ben Trotter
Kevin Doyle
Colin Trotter
Rebecca Front
Sheila Trotter
Alice O'Connell
Lois Trotter
Nicholas Shaw
Doug Anderton
Hugo Speer
Bill Anderton
Elizabeth Berrington
Irene Anderton
Rasmus Hardiker
Philip Chase
Mark Williams
Sam Chase
Sarah Lancashire
Barbara Chase
Julian Rhind-Tutt
Nigel Plumb
Christine Tremarco
Miriam Newman
Cara Horgan
Claire Newman
Alice Eve
Cicely Boyd
Hugh Bonneville
Voice of Adult Ben


Dick Clement
Ian La Frenais

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