An uncompromising story of life in a British juvenile offender institution in the 70's.


Alan Clarke


Roy Minton





Cast overview, first billed only:
Ray Winstone ... Carlin
Mick Ford ... Archer
Julian Firth ... Davis
John Blundell ... Banks
Phil Daniels ... Richards
John Fowler John Fowler ... Woods
Ray Burdis ... Eckersley
Patrick Murray ... Dougan
Herbert Norville Herbert Norville ... Toyne
George Winter George Winter ... Rhodes
Alrick Riley ... Angel
Peter Francis Peter Francis ... Baldy
Philip DaCosta Philip DaCosta ... Jackson (as Philip Da Costa)
Perry Benson Perry Benson ... Formby
Alan Igbon ... Meakin


An uncompromising story of life in a British juvenile offender institution in the 70's.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The film they tried to ban! See more »


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The greenhouse scenes were shot at HMP Wellingborough in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. See more »


Archer, an intelligent character, refers to a Bible in Yugoslavian. There is no such language. See more »


[Eckersley, Richards and Banks approach Davis]
Banks: Davis, up!
[Davis stands up but Banks kicks him. Eckersley laughs]
Banks: Davis, yer nothing. I'm the Daddy 'ere, I run this wing. You pay yer dues like the rest. Payday, you deliver a quarter of your snout to Stripey 'ere, every week on the dot.
Davis: I don't smoke...
Banks: [slaps Davis] You fuckin' well do now, slag! There's no dolly mixtures here, poofter! I'm the Daddy and don't you ever forget it, right?
[slaps Davis]
Banks: I said right?
[shoves Davis and leaves]
See more »

Alternate Versions

There are differences between the theatrical and the TV version:
  • The aspect ratio is 1.66:1 instead of 1.33:1 in the TV version.
  • The theatrical version omits an opening scene (as seen in the TV version) a runaway, possibly Davis trying to escape his previous open borstal, and his recapture.
  • There is a scene with the 3 new arrivals having a bath in the TV version. This is eliminated in the theatrical version.
  • In the theatrical version, Carlin is transferred from Rowley Borstal as opposed to Bagthorpe Borstal in the TV version.
  • Unlike in the TV version were punches, kicks or slaps are muffled, it is clearly audible in the theatrical version.
  • The use of strong language (and at least 2 instances of very strong language) in the theatrical version.
  • Archer and Carlin talking to each other for the first time differs in the 2 versions. In the TV version, they talk to each other in the laundrette where as in the theatrical version, they introduce each other at a changing room.
  • Banks bullying Davis is slightly different in both version. In the theatrical version, Banks tell Davis to stand up. He does so but Banks kicks him and tells him that he is the daddy here and Davis must pays his dues like the rest. When Davis insists he doesn't smokes, Banks slaps him and reminds that there are no Dolly Mixtures. Banks repeats that he is the daddy and slaps Davis for not responding. He finally pushes Davis on the benches. In the TV version, he just grabs him and slaps him followed by similar dialogue followed by another slap.
  • Richards pours hot tea on Davis and Mr. Sands shouts at Davis for being a slob is not in the theatrical version.
  • There is a scene in the theatrical version where Archer talks to the Matron about vetoes on books.
  • The theatrical version omits a scene where Angel has his clothes stolen by unnamed inmates, and is caught naked on the stairway by a startled Matron and punished.
  • In the TV version, Mr Greaves asks Carlin about his bruised face. In the theatrical version, Mr Sands asks what happened to his face.
  • Meakin asks the Matron when is she going to call them by their first names. This scene is not in the TV version.
  • Bank's beating by Carlin is similar in both versions. In the theatrical version, Carlin dunks Bank's head in the sink and hits him repeatedly. Carlin angrily declares himself the new daddy. He finally kicks kicks him repeatedly in the groin. The TV version is similar but Bank's beating is slightly less brutal and Carlin declares himself as the new daddy but he says it in a much more calmer manner.
  • When Carlin beats up Baldy, the theatrical version depicts the beating as prolonged. The sound effects is much louder when Carlin beats up Baldy with the pipe is louder. In the TV version, Baldy's beating is brief.
  • Toyne's first suicide attempt is in the theatrical version.
  • There is a brief scene with Archer painting "I am happy" on a wall.
  • Carlin's homosexual relationship with another inmate has been eliminated in the theatrical version.
  • Davis' rape is longer and graphic. His suicide is also more graphic than the TV version.
  • After the riots, Carlin is dragged into the punishment cells with a very bloody face. The TV version is similar but without the bloody face.
  • The credits has no music unlike the TV version.
See more »


Referenced in The City and the Dogs (1985) See more »


Badly Bruised - Slightly Stowed
Written by Colin Tucker
De Wolfe Music Ltd
See more »

User Reviews

You'll be scared to go into the greenhouse.
4 June 2015 | by BA_HarrisonSee all my reviews

Had the Borstal system not been abolished in 1982, Alan Clarke's controversial drama Scum could have been used as a potent form of crime deterrence, the film's gritty, documentary-like approach being so harrowing that any potentially delinquent viewers would surely think twice about flouting the law for fear of finding themselves banged up in a concrete hellhole with a bunch of sociopathic thugs. If shown as part of the school curriculum, teenage crime figures would surely have dropped quicker than Davis's pants in the film's notorious greenhouse rape scene.

Being buggered while potting plants is just one of the many dangers that face the young inmates of Scum's tough correctional facility. Even hard-nut Carlin (Ray Winstone) feels the pain, receiving a thorough beating from both his fellow cons AND the screws, before eventually establishing himself as 'the daddy'—the top dog amongst the prisoners—by cracking a few select skulls (his methods including the classic 'snooker balls in the sock' trick). Tensions run high when one of the inmates commits suicide after the death of his wife, but when Davis (Julian Firth), seriously depressed after his assault, slashes his wrists during the night, anger and resentment boil over, resulting in rioting.

Chock full of strong language, extreme brutality, and unflinching scenes of racism, suicide and rape, Scum is still extremely shocking stuff, even by today's standards, but is far from exploitative: director Clarke simply tells it like it is, showing us the harsh reality of life behind the walls of the UK's borstals, where every day is a lesson in survival. His film benefits greatly from memorable performances from the excellent cast, both young and old, and a genuine atmosphere of hopelessness. Don't expect an uplifting ending: this ain't no Shawshank Redemption.

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Release Date:

28 September 1979 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Scum See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »


Box Office


GBP250,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,948, 18 June 2017

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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