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