Our Friends in the North (1996)

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Cast
| Classic Lines | Interviews | Obituary | My Summary  

Cast

Character Actor
Benny Barratt Malcolm McDowell
Nicky Hutchinson Christopher Eccleston
George (Geordie) Peacock Daniel Craig
Mary Soulsby-Cox Gina McKee
Tosker (Terry) Cox Mark Strong
Elaine Cox Tracy Wilkinson
Eddie Wells David Bradley
Felix Hutchinson Peter Vaughan
Florrie Hutchinson Freda Dowie
Austin Donohue Alun Armstrong
Ben Neil Armstrong
Councilor Phil Atkinson
Mr. Braniff Roger Avon
Female transvestite Joanna Bacon
Daphne  Angeline Ball
Melvin Barnes Sean Collins
Anthony Cox Matthew Baron
Barrister Julia Lloyd Barrie
Herbert Sidebottom Tony Barton
Billy Shaughnessy David Begg 
Barbara Cox Margery Bone
Beattie Steph Bramwell
PC Rose Steven Bronowski
Alice MacDonald Colette Brown
Nursing Sister Angela Bruce
Pat West Denise Bryson
Lucille Siobhan Burke
Chairman Doyne Byrd

Directed by Simon Cellan Jones, Pedr James and Stuart Urban
Written by Peter Flannery

Classic Lines

1979 Dialog
"What did I say hmmm? What can I say? Whatever I say you're not gonna believe me. Look, why me? I haven't even seen her since I've come out. I've seen her, she used my clubs. She was a good whore, you know that Geordie. Though I think she was on the way down when she died, if you'll pardon the expression. Shut up, that's not funny. Sorry mate. Christ, I was screwin' her before you was. Nobody killed her, nobody had a reason. We've got enough with the bill, we're going through a delicate period of reconstruction. She was gettin' old, her tits were beginning to sag. You know what women are like Geordie. Poor Geordie, poor Jules. These are hard times for London."

Interviews

2/96 The Radio Times
2/5/96 eGuide TV

Obituary

Obituaries James Humphreys, Club Owner; Soho Baron and Scourge of the Met
By Jane Fryer

    When the police raided Soho's porn shops in the Sixties, they would call up Jimmy Humphreys and offer him the confiscated magazines. He would swing down to Scotland Yard, hand over the cash and fill up his Rolls-Royce. It seemed like a fair return on the GBP 3,000 he was pressing into various police palms each week.
    At the time, he was one of London's foremost porn-shop and club owners. The inspiration for Malcolm McDowell's character Bennie Barratt in the TV drama, Our Friends In The North, he had scores of Metropolitan Police detectives on his payroll.
    Their understanding came to an abrupt end in 1973 when he was charged with wounding his wife's former lover, which he denied, and given eight years in prison. The self-styled Emperor of Porn, convinced he had been framed, soon opened the diaries in which he had recorded all his dealings.
    By the time he had given evidence against all the bent officers he had wined and dined, 74 had been arrested, 12 had resigned, 28 retired and 13 were jailed. It was the biggest police scandal in a century and two years into his sentence he was rewarded with a royal pardon.
    James Humphreys was born in South London in 1930. Leaving school at 14, he befriended gangland heavy "Mad" Frankie Fraser and soon began law-breaking - he funded his first date with his future first wife, June Driscoll, with a stolen television set. Later, Fraser relocated to North London and Humphreys moved to Soho, where porn supremo Bernie Silvers groomed him as his successor.
    Humphreys had two sons, Louie and James, but was not a hands on father. As James says: "He was only interested when we were old enough for business." Birthday and Christmas presents were often forgotten as their father immersed himself in business.
    The late Sixties were his halcyon days. He owned a 28-room Kent farmhouse and a luxury Soho apartment. Impeccably turned out in dark suit and black tie, he was equally at ease sipping vintage champagne with pimps and prostitutes or lords and ladies.
    Business was something he and his second wife, Rusty Gaynor (born June Packard), had in common. When they met in his Moor Street club, the red-headed stripper was the toast of Soho, light years from her suburban Kent childhood. In business, they made a formidable team. Rusty hired the dancers, one of whom was Norma Levy, the prostitute who caused the downfall of Tory defense minister Lord Lambton in the Seventies.
    Their personal relationship, however, was stormy. She was jailed briefly for drawing a gun on him after a row and, set-up or not, he was jailed for slashing her exlover, Peter Garfath. The court heard that Humphreys had ordered a gang to cut off Garfath's hands. Despite long periods of enforced separation, though, he and Rusty were always drawn back together.
    Awaiting trial in Amsterdam, Humphreys arranged for Louie to spring him from prison but the date clashed with Queen Juliana's birthday and the city was closed to traffic. Humphreys had already cut though an empty cell to reach the roof and was stranded when his son could not get close. He never spoke to Louie again.
    In the aftermath of the Scotland Yard scandal, Humphreys fled to Mexico, then Florida, and lived off horse and greyhound racing. Homesick, he and Rusty returned to London in the Nineties but found the old order had gone. It did not stop them returning to their old ways, though, and in 1993 both were jailed for profiting from high-class West End brothels.
    In recent years they moved to the South Coast and a quiet life running a removal company. At the time of his death the couple were in discussions about a film of their life story.
    Humphreys is survived by Louie, James and Rusty and her son, Jamie, whom he adopted. James Humphreys, born London, January 7, 1930. Died Hastings, September 22, 2003, aged 73.

My Summary

1979

    Geordie and Tosker are in a disco at night. Geordie is looking for women to pick up and Tosker is upset because of all the mistakes he has made, he's going bald and his kids hate him. When two women catch their eye they decide to go pick them up and take them back to Nicky building place for a night of sex. Nicky is there with a couple of friends talking about his possible campaign, so they all have to split so the boys can have the women. Nicky gives him the keys for the apartment next door and tells him about a book he wants to show him.
    The next day the women are waiting for Tosker to return with breakfast, but Geordie tells him he went home and doesn't live there. They don't believe it until the drug squad shows up. He is really a corrupt cop who brings coke for Geordie to sell. Nicky rides the elevator down with the cop who doesn't realize other police are on to him and are following him outside.
    Tosker returns home and the kids are on the way to school and blow him off. His wife Mary wants to know where he was. He tells him he was too drunk to drive home. She doesn't buy it and that if he can't look out for her, he could at least be there for the kids. He starts to cry because he is such a mess.
    Mary goes to work at the community center where a woman is waiting for her so she can get a divorce. Back at Nicky's flats they are boarding them up because they are condemned and going to be torn down. Nicky reads him the book he wanted to show him. It is about police corruption and Geordie is mentioned in it. It seems he was jailed during the police corruption scandal. He should've gotten away without a problem, but he was having an affair with Barratt's mistress so he was sold out. After he got out of jail he never knew what happened to the girl, Jules. Nicky reads to him the last chapter of the book where it explains that she jumped off a balcony and committed suicide. Geordie is totally bummed out and he explains how he really loved her and how great the sex was and how everything made sense with her and he weeps.
    Felix gets a letter that the shipyard where he works is being closed down and he goes to see his old friend Ray Johnson. He was in politics before the war, but they needed money after he returned. Meanwhile Tosker's son Anthony goes over to see Geordie. He isn't there, but he hears a meeting the tenants are having next door where Nicky is trying to convince them off his platforms. Anthony asks Nicky for the key and he gives it to him. 
    Eddie comes to Mary and tells him what Nicky is up to. She tells him Alan who is position know is totally useless. Mary says it has to be Nicky because she is not interested in running for the seat.
    Anthony goes in and finds some booze and starts drinking it. Then he puts on some load music and then finds a gun and dances around with it. The police show up looking for Geordie and find Anthony and he pisses himself and is taken downtown. Meanwhile Geordie is downtown going to see Benny because he thinks he killed Julia.
    Geordie goes to a police friend to tell him about Julia. He knows about the corruption. He tells her it was a suicide. Geordie doesn't believe it. He wants to know why she jumped, why not aspirin. He said there was no reason since the jail term would've been short. He tells him all the corrupt people are now gone.
    The police commissioner is having a meeting on would they should do depending on the outcome of the election. They'll do the dirty work if they can get the resources to do it and not worry about the past problems. Roy goes there to see the commissioner, but he is busy and has to wait until they are done.
    Mary goes to pick up Anthony at the station, but by the time he gets there he has escaped. He runs home and then goes to Roy Johnson's and pulls up his plants and breaks windows. After a few minutes Mary and the police catch up with him. Roy finally gets in and wants to took about the police obstruction the investigations into corruption. They tell him 800 cops have already been let go. He says how important it is to clean this up. He continues until they hand him a note that his place has just been vandalized.
    Nicky is having a Labor Party rally to announce his candidacy. He says they don't want to admit to their corruption and he wants to change that. The small crowd is excited by his words.
    On the other side of town Claudia Seabrook, the conservative candidate is having her own gathering. She thinks the seat is up for grabs after the Labor Party holding it for 50 years. She says she only wants to debate the issue and doesn't want to play dirty politics.
    Tosker is back at the club without Geordie because he wants to kill him. When a woman, Elaine comes over to him his isn't interested at first. After getting a good look at her he becomes very interested. By the time Geordie shows up a couple hours later Tosker has already planned on leaving his wife and marrying Elaine. Geordie is flabbergasted and can't believe that Mary will go for this.
    Mary brings Anthony to the hospital to apologize to Roy because of the little stroke he had at the police station. He doesn't want to, but she forces him. He tells her she and his father don't care about him at all. Roy wants to know why he did it, but Anthony doesn't know - nothing personal. Roy explains how he did something like that when he wasn't a kid and doesn't want money from him and he cries. Roy wants him to take care of his mom. Anthony asks if dad is moving out and she says yes. He wants to know if when she cries at night is it because of him. She wasn't expecting that. She admits it is because she is so lonely.
    Nicky gives a press conference that doesn't go well. He wants to discuss the issues, but they want to know if he is gay and if he has a problem with the party and why does the party hate him and is he a militant. He threatens to leave.
    Elaine goes to talk to Mary because she wants to be sure that her and Tosker's marriage is over. She admits it is and that Tosker wants to be called Terry now. Mary is bowled over by the whole meeting and says he could just ask for a divorce. Elaine says he is scared. She wants him to call and tell the kids what is happening and to be happy.
    Anthony is now working for Roy until he gets better and Roy is happy with his work, but isn't going to let him off the hook so easy. Tosker packs up to leave. He wants to give her his keys, but she wants him to come and see the kids. She also wants him to tell the kids what is happening. He can't do it and cries and tells her what to say and just leaves. She cries and tries to clean herself up when Anthony comes down to comfort her, but he winds up crying.
    Nick has another press conference that goes even worse than the last one. One reporter asks if he supported the IRA. He says he believes a united island which is the IRA policy. He says he condemns all acts of terrorism from whatever source. The reporter asks if that is what he told his girlfriend when she got twelve years. He says nothing and walks out. Claudia isn't sure the way the campaign is going, but she is coming up in the polls. She says to do what they have to do as long as it isn't a personal attack.
    Nicky goes to a house with the press in tow for a meet and greet. He says he is from the neighborhood and is campaigning for proper housing. The man isn't home and the woman gives him the what for. She wants to know if he'll get rid of the gypsies. He says everyone has the right to housing and she says the don't have the right to go to the bathroom in her yard. It all goes bad and he's forced to leave. Then he finds out he is slipping in the polls. He decides to go to Mary for help.
    She isn't interested because of the harsh way he went about trashing the current seat holder. She thinks the seat may be lost, but he doesn't. She says she'll be a campaign manager behind the scenes and only talk to him.
    Claudia goes to the lady that Nicky talked to the day before. Claudia promises to get rid of the gypsies and the lady likes her and she makes a good photo op out of it. Geordie goes home, but finds his place padlocked. He sees Nicky and Nicky tries to avoid him, but can't. Geordie wishes him luck and admits he has to split town because the cops are looking for him. They hug.
    At the next rally Mary gets Eddie Wells to speak for Nicky which goes over really well. Then that day a group goes around posting thousands of flyers around town saying to support Nicky and support the IRA. He gets their vote. The flyer also has his address and phone number which leads to threats.
    Colin is Claudia's campaign adviser and he says Nicky is dead and that tonight she must make the big push to get rid of the unions and combining the power company. She tells him she knows all about his hardcore ways - legalization of pedophilia and drugs and many other sick things. She knows he was the one behind the flyer about Nicky and he denies it. She says if is costs her the election there'll be hell to pay and fires him. Her friend Alan doesn't think it is a good idea.
    Nicky gets the call that the flats with be demolished the next day, so all he has worked for has finally come to pass. He isn't happy though because he knows his career is ruined.
    Claudia gives her big final speech and the polls show her she has pulled again. Then the big demolition ceremony is underway to destroy the flats. Anthony helps push down the plunger and Nicky photographs it. Nicky has lost and Mary admits she should've helped sooner. He says he is bowing out of politics and going abroad. It's Mary's birthday and she is depressed. Nicky says they can go out and celebrate, but Mary sees the kids and realizes it is still too early for her to date and she leaves him. Then we see Terry and Elaine fooling around in bed.

1987

    Felix, an old man is walking down a street with a suitcase and looking for his father. His wife Florrie walks with him. He has looked at one end of the street and has now walked to the other without finding him. She tells him his father is dead and the street the used to live in his gone. He wants to go back to the other side of the street and start over and she lets him go by himself. Then a younger man pulls up in a car and tells her to get in. He is their son Nicky and he explains his father has Alzheimer's and they need to get him into a home where they can look after him.
    Nicky takes them back home and asks his dad what his grandfather was like. He tells him he was a hard man and there was no love in the house and that is why he went to London and left them behind. He tries to ask more questions to test his sanity. He asks when the last time he saw his father was. he said this morning. He asks why he couldn't see him then. his father tells him he didn't want to be seen because Nicky is useless.
    Terry is a landlord and he goes to one of his tenement slums to talk to the investigator because one of his tenants turned up dead in the river. He doesn't care because he says the woman is a drunk. His wife Elaine comes in and hears this and is not happy about it.
    Mary is on the phone to Frank about making cut backs on social programs that she doesn't want to cut for her job. Mary tells her she was a grandmother last week and he hasn't slept with her since, so they make love. The next day Nicky is in London for a book signing of his latest collection of photographs. One of the people who gets a book signed is Alice MacDonald. She then follows him afterwards and tells him she is a photography student who wants to do a dissertation on him. He isn't interested because he is off to photograph some homeless people for a job. She wants to learn and he tells her to contact his publisher. She offers to help in anyway and wants to see his style and his equipment. When he hears something behind him he lets her help him. He takes a bunch of pictures of a new bum coming on the scene and is shocked to learn it is his old friend Geordie. He tells Alice to go home and goes over to talk to him. He wants to take him away, but the lady won't let him. He doesn't want to talk to Nicky and he gives him some money and tells him he wants to see him tomorrow and doesn't want him and his lady friend to buy booze with the money.
    Nicky goes back to the bar in his hotel with Alice and she indicated she wants to be with him. He takes her up to his room and fucks her hard from behind. In the morning she is asleep when he leaves. He goes back to look for Geordie, but he has disappeared. He goes back to the hotel and now Alice is gone too. Soon after Mary calls in he barely recognizes her. She has arranged for to have dinner with Terry and Elaine the next night, he isn't happy about it, but says he'll be there.   Mary gets off the phone and has a meeting and she wants her people to write a budget proposal that eliminates some of their jobs.
    Terry takes Elaine to a housing project that is a step above the slums he runs. He tells three nearby kids he'll pay them to watch his car. He says he'll get rid of the flop houses and buy up theses new houses in Valley View. He says they can get the council houses for $10,000 each. Then he can charge interest on the mortgages to the poorer people who want to live their and own their own houses. His friend Allen will help and they'll clean up. He says people have the right to own their own homes. When he gets back to the car he pays the kids and they leave. Then we see the words "Fuck Off" have been painted on his trunk.
    Nicky goes to meet his friend Eddie who is a congressman at the house of commons. Eddie points out his rival Colin and starts to badmouth him loudly until everyone gets quiet and hears him. Nicky doesn't really pay attention because he is thinking about Geordie. Eddie introduces him to his his new American helper Francine. Nicky doesn't understand why Eddie wants his help and Francine explains about the corruption around them. He goes again to look for Geordie, but can't find him.
    That night he is back with Alice. She admits she was surprised at how rough he was with her the night before, but says he can do it again if she wants. He says nothing and since she is on top of him she goes down to kiss him and asks what he wants. They embrace.
    The next day Mary is with Terry and Elaine, Nicky hasn't made it back. Elaine is disgusted with Terry because they were supposed to be business partners and now it is Terry and Alan all the time. Mary says he is like that because he wants kids and Elaine can't have them. Elaine is upset. She tells Mary about Terry's new plan about buying the cheap houses. Mary tells her what the real story is. If the market goes up they can raise the rates and make a killing. If the renters can't pay for it then they foreclose and get the houses for free making a ton of money.
    Two thugs stole a TV and VCRs and are fleeing in a car. One tosses a TV out at the cops and then they are ordered to break pursuit. When they do the thugs drive back and egg the cops on and pull a gun on them before driving off.
    Nicky comes home late and checks the messages. His mom called to say her day went wandering to Valley Vie and the cops of surrounded the place because of the thug with the gun. It turns out the whole thing was a stunt to bring attention to the plight of their estate. They also reveal the gun is a fake. Florrie tries to keep Felix away from the crime scene, but he won't listen and pushes her away. One thug winds up shooting himself and is taken away in an ambulance as an angry crowd masses.
    Nicky finds his father and takes him home, but he doesn't even recognize him. His mother says that tonight was the last straw and he needs to be put away.
    The next day Mary's rival Claudia the Housing minister is at the estate giving a speech which says that society is to blame. Mary is pissed off and has words with her. She tells Mary if she doesn't like it then she should've run against her in the last election unless she was afraid to lose.
    The next take Nicky and his mom take his dad into a nursing him. He doesn't seem to know what is going on and changes to TV which upsets the other patients. Later Nicky meets with Eddie, but isn't interested in helping him spy. He says all politicians are corrupt and Eddie hasn't done anything at all to change the world and has turned into a drunk. He leaves and now they aren't friends.
    Elaine has had enough and tries to leave Terry. When he goes to stop her she goes crazy and starts throwing everything in the house at him which breaks everywhere. After they calm down the place is a wreck. She explains she wants him as a partner and doesn't want him to do anything with Alan anymore. He didn't realize she wanted to be rich. She just wants to live and have some fun instead of working all the time. She wants to sell everything and put it in the stock market. He tells her the future is in pubs and karaoke. She thinks he is mad. He finally relents.
    That night Mary is looking through Nicky's latest pictures and Nicky is checking his messages. She wants to know who Alice is. He says she is a student doing a dissertation.
    The next day Mary walks Nicky to the train because he is going to London. She wants to know what he is up to. He explains how he is digging up dirt for Eddie. She says that isn't true. He says they had a falling out, but he is still working for him. He just won't return his calls.
    He gets to London and has ex with Alice and tries to get a hold of Eddie. Alice goes to leave and says to her she was supposed to stay the night. She tells him she won't and that they had their fun and know it is over. He is upset because he thinks he loves her. She knows and that is why she is calling it off because he is married.
    Nicky goes again to look for Geordie, but can't find him. he stops to take pictures of the other bums and then loses it and smashes his camera. We see Geordie is now in a men's home watching TV. Eddie is on and he is vowing to expose the corruption of Colin during a hearing. He says he's going to put a match to it and burn it all up. This sets Geordie off and he goes back to his bed and sets it on fire.
    Nicky goes to see Francine at her apartment because he wants her to get a message to Eddie. She is all dressed up for a date and is waiting for him to show. he gives her a message because he knows Eddie like her. When he goes to leave her date shows up. It is Colin and he knows Eddie is screwed. Nicky goes to see Eddie before the hearing to explain what he found out. Eddie isn't interested until Nicky apologizes. Nicky explains Francine is a paid employee of Westminster and is working for Colin Butler and the second he questions Colin about it it will be tied to it and Eddie will be finished. When the hearing starts Eddie says he has no questions.
    Geordie is talking to a psychiatrist about what happened after his trial. The doctor wants to know what voices told him to set fire to his bed. He told him it was the Labor Party on the TV. He asks him if he set any fires before and he admits to burning an empty factory when he was younger. He also admits to setting fire to a guy on bonfire night. The doctor asks what he would do the next time a voice asked him to start a fire and he says he'll ignore it. He goes out to hear his judgment and the judge declares he is a menace to society and gives him life in prison. He is put back in his cell and weeps.
    Nicky returns home to find Mary and Eddie there. Because of the scandal Eddie is forced to step down. He says he'll blame it on his health and with him gone Mary can easily take his seat. Mary said no and Nicky is surprised. Eddie is disappointed. They thing she is a scared career politician and the party needs her. She is only thinking about herself. Eddie leaves and Nicky says he failed. She wants to know who is he to judge. What has he ever done. He has never supported her. So he walks away and she tells him to keep walking, right out the door. So he leaves.
    He goes to London and finds Alice in her local pub with friends. Her friends are impressed because they know his work They make some small talk and he asks her out, but she turns him down and her friends look uncomfortable. he asks about the dissertation and she says she changed her mind. He leaves and looks for Geordie again.
    That day the stock market crashes and billions are lost. Now Elaine and Terry are broke because she convinced him to put all their money in the market. He tells her they'll sell the house and get a pub and try the karaoke game. She agrees. Alan calls, but he hangs up on him.
    That night a big storm kicks up as Eddie is leaving parliament with all his papers. Mary comes to London to see Nicky and Geordie is being transported to prison. The storm has knocked a tree across the road and when the police go out to move it the prisoners break out of the back of the car and escape. Mary wants to know why Nicky doesn't like her or himself anymore and doesn't want them to be happy and to just say why. He says because he is useless. Geordie can't take the storm anymore and runs back into the police van. Eddie can't catch a cab and then all his papers start blowing madly in every direction. He tries to retrieve them, but loses his breath and has a heart attack and dies right there on the street.

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