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Based on the book by Terry Pratchett, the adventure begins for thirteen-year-old Johnny Maxwell and his four friends when they come to the aid of eccentric homeless woman, Mrs Tachyon, and are left minding her trolley full of black bags while she is hospitalised. When the children later visit her in hospital, Mrs Tachyon lets them into the secret that her black bags-- or 'Bags of Time-- are special and can be used to create a gateway to the past. The five youngsters end up during the Blitz where fun and games turn serious when they quickly realise the prejudices of the era. But when they return to their own time, the gang discover they have somehow changed history as a result Johnny's grandmother died in a bombing as a teenage girl meaning Johnny's mother and, in turn, himself were never born. The children are now in a race to fix the path in order to save the future but can they succeed before the bombs start falling...? Written by
Matthew Beard, who portrays Young Tom Maxwell also portrayed the main character Tom in 'An Angel for May (2002)', a movie very similar to this one. Tom was a modern boy who found himself going back in time to England during World War II. See more »
'Johnny and the Bomb' is the perfect example of the BBC actually using our licence fee money to produce excellent entertainment instead of squandering it on dreary soaps and repetitive music competitions.
This television teen drama, based on Terry Pratchett's novel, centres the whirl-wind adventure thirteen-year-old Johnny and his friends are drawn into when they help a seemingly homeless old woman Mrs Tachyon. They discover her trolley of bin bags contain not rubbish but a means of travelling back in time and they soon find themselves reliving the Blitz, circa 1941. However, by messing with the timeline, the children are forced to face the repercussions when they return to their own time and find out they changed history, resulting in Johnny's grandmother being killed as a teenage girl in a German bombing. The gang have to put things right otherwise they will have created a future where Johnny had never been born.
The characters are all solid and engaging (and unlike the recent 'Harry Potter' adaptations, there is no dumbing down or sexing up of the young characters just to appeal to kiddies), remaining true to how they are in the book, with the child actors throwing themselves into their characters. The kids all deliver great performances despite the fact they are all relatively new to the acting scene. And Zoe Wannamaker is excellent as the scatter-brained, eccentric Mrs Tachyon.
'Johnny and the Bomb' is a nice mix of science fiction, light fantasy, drama with a smidgen of romance. It doesn't just show the kids prancing about having a good time in the Forties but deals with how they cope with this unfamiliar time, touching on racial and sexual stereotypes the kids have never really come across before. As such, while it is aimed at teenagers primarily, adults who are fans of Pratchett novels or just like sci-fi/lite-fantasy will no doubt thoroughly enjoy this. As an adaptation, I think it is certainly a success. Obviously there are some changes from the novel but, for the most part, it has remained faithful and definitely maintains the essence of what made the book a great read.
I only hope the BBC make more dramas of this vein as it is definitely more entertaining than the usual drivel you tend to find it airing. Dramas, be it those aimed at kids or adults, are the BBC's strong point and it is a shame they don't produce more as 'Johnny and the Bomb' is probably one of the best British shows I've seen this year. It would be nice to have this available on DVD at some point soon.
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