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Scum77

Scum 1977 titles

Scum (1977) is the original Play for Today version of a hard and shocking story of life in a British borstal for young offenders, written by playwright Roy Minton. Luckily, the regime has changed since this TV film was made. The brutal regime made no attempt to reform or improve the inmates and actively encouraged a power struggle between the 'tough' new inmate and the 'old hands'.

This is the original banned version made for the BBC and was never screened until 15 years later. The BBC claimed that they banned it because "There was too much incident packed into too short a time" and that they "doubted the veracity." They also claimed that it "looked too much like a documentary." Scum had a production cost of £120,000.

Director Alan Clarke remade it into a theatrical film in 1979, with a mixture of actors, with many reprising roles from the 1977 original. Roy Minton was displeased with his lack of involvement in the remake (in particular over the omission of Carlin's relationship with Peter Rhodes) and had a falling out with Clarke which lasted until the months before Clarke's death in 1990 when they apparently reconciled.

However, according to a radio interview Minton had with media journalist Mark Kermode, he claims he did it for 'humanitarian reasons' and was still displeased with Clarke's alterations of his script.

Differences to the 1979 filmEdit

  • The opening scene shows a runaway, possibly Davis trying to escape his previous open borstal, and his recapture
  • This version has a more claustrophobic feel with it's narrow halls and dimly lit areas
  • Slightly milder swearwords are used in comparison to the 1979 version.
  • There is a bathing scene in which Carlin, Angel and Davis are forced to get into overly hot water by wardens.
  • Dougan responds angrily to Woods going on about visitors and his puppies (Dougan has never had a visitor)
  • Angel has his clothes stolen by unnamed inmates, and is caught naked on the stairway by a startled Matron and punished
  • Banks' gang take Davis' food and pour hot tea over his ear; Davis is blamed for the mess on the floor by Mr Sands
  • Toyne does not commit suicide, but looks depressed after his wife's death, especially when Betts returns from his wedding
  • Housemaster Goodyear is supposedly sexually harassing inmate Peter Rhodes, who is moved to Carlin's wing when Rhodes threatens to report the incident
  • Carlin offers protection to and has a homosexual relationship with Rhodes, although Carlin strongly insists he's "no poof"
  • Formby is less of a loner, and is semi-associated with the corrupt influence of Richards and Eckersley
  • Banks departure is more hinted at, when Jackson tells a worried Eckersley that Banks has been hospitalised
  • In this version, Carlin is transferred from Bagthorpe Borstal, but in the 1979 film version it's Rowley Borstal

Pop TriviaEdit

Itchycoo Park by The Small Faces is heard on a radio at the start of the Carlin/Rhodes scene.

The end credits features the song Wide Boy by The Amazing Mike Khan Band.


See alsoEdit


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