Those nice people at the BBC seem to have a thing about time travel at the moment. It’s probably due to the success of the revived Doctor Who that’s to blame, which is, of course, a Good Thing, as I may have hinted previously. I’ve already mentioned the rather good Life on Mars, and now we have an adaptation of Johnny and the Bomb, the third of Terry Pratchett’s Johnny Maxwell Trilogy. It’s been done in three episodes showing on Sunday afternoons on BBC1. Yes, the books (and the TV version) are mostly aimed at a slightly younger audience than Terry’s Discworld books, but just as those are read by kids, there’s no reason adults can’t enjoy these.
Johnny Maxwell and his friends Kirsty (knows judo, and isn’t afraid to use it on anyone she suspects of sexism), Yo-Less (the least cool black kid in the world), Wobbler (tells people jokes they’ve all heard a hundred times before) and Big Mac (wannabe skinhead) find themselves transported back to 1941 by some strange “bags full of time” in a shopping trolley pushed around by the apparently barking mad Mrs Tachyon (ZoÃ« Wannamaker).
They are more than a little disorientated by the experience and are separated. Wobbler meets some friendly people, and Big Mac manages to get arrested as a spy. Meanwhile, Johnny, Kirsty and Yo-Less realise where, err, when they are and return to the present.
And that’s where it gets interesting. Johnny’s grandfather doesn’t recognise him. In fact, he has no grandson, and was never even married, as the only girl he ever loved died in an air raid in 1941.
The past has been changed. Originally, when the bomb hit Paradise Street, everyone had already taken shelter. In this changed time, nineteen people died, including Johnny’s grandmother.
How did this happen? Who is the mysterious Sir Walter, who seems to know rather too much? Can things be returned to the way they were? Well, I’ve read the book, so I already know the answers. All good fun.