Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 27th January 1984
Suzanne, Claire, Glenroy, Pogo, Stewpot and Mr McGuffy have headed off into the country for the UN Weekend. It’s taking place in palatial surroundings – which comes as a little bit of a culture shock for the North London kids. Claire, who has to speak in the debate, is fretting that she’ll come off second best, as some of the other children come from privileged private schools and probably are used to this sort of thing. Claire isn’t, which heightens her anxiety.
Glenroy is still smarting from the fact that somebody else nabbed Ethiopia (they had to plump for Tasmania) whilst Suzanne, Pogo and Stewpot don’t seem to have the UN at the top of their personal agendas. Suzanne, despite her earlier protests, clearly wants to spend time with Glenroy whilst Pogo and Stewpot are happy to hang out with any attractive girl they can find.
Trudy (Gina Bellman) immediately catches their attention and they both make a beeline for her. There then follows several excruciating scenes as Trudy, polite but clearly not terribly interested, has to suffer their separate charm offensives. This was only Bellman’s second television credit (an episode of Into the Labrynth two years earlier was her first).
Excruciating also covers the scene where one of the more privileged public school boys makes conversation with two black girls. He asks them where they come from – Hackney, they say. After a few more questions he seems stunned to realise that they’re actually British (that his school is representing the UK is a clear irony). Presumably his part of the country has no black people whatsoever ….
If Stewpot and Pogo seem to be making little progress with Trudy, then Suzanne’s equally frustrated as Glenroy seems happier to spend his time talking politics with others than spending time with her. But although all this toing and froing takes up most of the episode, towards the end we do start to concentrate on the reason why everybody’s here.
David Bellamy is in the chair for the debate on world hunger and his opening address is a memorable one. The plight of Ethiopia would be thrust onto British television screens later in the year, so it was obviously a topic that was high on many people’s agendas.
Bellamy tells them that chronic hunger “saps your energy and lowers your resistance to disease. That means you can’t work properly. Because you see the sort of work that the hungry people of the world have to do is physical work. And there are four hundred million people in the world today whose food intake is below that which would be needed for normal bodily maintenance … the money required to provide adequate food, water, education, health, housing and above all family planning has been estimated at seventeen billion dollars a year. That’s an enormous amount of money, about as much as the world spends on armaments every two weeks.”