The Custard Boys

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The Custard Boys
The Custard Boys

With his hit 2008 show 'Boys of the Empire' and its sequel, 'Scouts in Bondage', 'Taggart' creator Glenn Chandler somewhat unexpectedly reinvented himself as a purveyor of camp fringe spoofs of Britain's Imperial glory days.

This adaptation of John Rae's 1961 novel – better known for the 1962 film version, 'Reach for Glory' – attempts to tackle weightier subject matter while hanging on to the tongue-in-cheek, tally-ho-what-what trappings of its predecessors. Unfortunately it's not a balancing act Chandler can pull off.

'The Custard Boys' is a 'Lord of the Flies'-esque tale of a gang of teenage evacuees in wartime Norfolk, whose boy soldier games are disrupted by the arrival of Mark (Andrew St Pierre), a gentle Austrian-Jewish refugee who forms a romantic attachment to dashing Kensington lad John (Charlie Cussons).

It's well-cast and has a great set from Celia Carey. But Chandler, who also directs, fails to mesh the humanity of Rae's story with his own innate desire to turn it into a Carry On film. Mark and John's relationship lacks any sense of depth, and after two hours of tomfoolery the bleak ending feels tacked on and cheap.

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