Moles

TV Times - - Documentary - Vicki Power

sees Sue’s friends and fam­ily as well as ac­tors, in­clud­ing Stephen Man­gan, who played Adrian on TV, cel­e­brat­ing her in­cred­i­ble rags-to-riches tale and re­mark­able tal­ent.

What made Adrian Mole so com­pelling to mil­lions was his pseudo-in­tel­lec­tual af­fec­ta­tions that were thwarted by his sub­ur­ban re­al­ity, not least his largely un­re­quited af­fec­tion for up­wardly mo­bile school­mate Pan­dora, played by Lyn­d­sey Stagg and later He­len Bax­en­dale.

But Sue’s end­lessly en­ter­tain­ing de­pic­tion of Adrian’s em­bar­rass­ing mishaps wasn’t just funny – it was also a clever satire on the pol­i­tics of the day. ‘What’s time­less about Adrian Mole is this pic­ture of ado­les­cence which ev­ery­one can iden­tify with,’ muses Have I Got News For You star Ian His­lop, a fan of Sue’s work.

‘Sue was also quite a po­lit­i­cal writer. It was smug­gled in, in the guise of com­edy, but a lot of it is quite a bleak

por­trait of the ef­fect of Thatcherism on those whom Sue felt were left be­hind.’

David Ni­cholls, who wrote the best­seller One Day and episodes of Cold Feet, in­sists that Sue was a great Bri­tish comic nov­el­ist.

‘I see Sue’s in­flu­ence a lot in things like The Royle Fam­ily or come­dies which show ev­ery­day life in a slightly height­ened way, satir­i­cal but warm,’ he says.

Al­though Sue wrote other suc­cess­ful books she re­turned to Adrian Mole over eight nov­els, in­clud­ing The Cap­puc­cino Years and The Pros­trate Years. The former starred Stephen Man­gan as Adrian in his break­out TV role.

Sadly, by this time Sue’s health was fail­ing – her di­a­betes had re­sulted in a grad­ual loss of sight.

‘When I au­di­tioned for the part of Adrian, she couldn’t re­ally see me,’ re­calls Stephen.

‘She had a big mag­ni­fy­ing glass and came right up to my face and said, “Adrian can’t be too good-look­ing”. She scanned me all over and ob­vi­ously thought

I was ugly enough to play him!’

Sue died in 2014 at the age of just 68, but Adrian Mole sur­vives as a tes­ta­ment to her enor­mous tal­ent.

‘I can’t tell you the ex­cite­ment of play­ing Adrian Mole,’ re­calls Stephen. ‘You grow up think­ing you’re go­ing to be James Bond and you get to be Adrian Mole, but you can live with that be­cause he’s such a great char­ac­ter.’

Stars pay tribute as

BBC2 tells the in­spi­ra­tional story of best-sell­ing author of the Adrian Mole books

is previewed on pages 36-37

Sue’s satire found a fan in Ian His­lop

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