Produced by Ivor Dunkerton and written and narrated by Dennis Tuohy, this Bafta winning documentary was made for the BBC’s Man Alive series and first broadcast on 21 April 1971. The film follows the lads, aged between eleven and fourteen, growing up in poverty and tatters among the rubble of London’s East End. Selected from the area as four of the “least likely to” the outlook for these boys is painted as very bleak. Dennis Tuohy from the outset announces “already these four lives are lives at risk, the future shadows them” and it’s an opinion supported by Vince’s mum who sees her son’s thieving leading to more serious crime and prison.
A couple of the scenes are noticeably staged but the struggles of their and their families’ lives are real enough and the most revealing moments are the interviews with the four real life Bronco Bullfrogs in their button-downs and Harringtons, especially Vince who wants Bobby Moore’s lifestyle so he can go where he wants to get things off his chest whenever he needs. “I ain’t even ‘ad a decent ‘oliday since we went to Bognor Regis a few years ago.”
Watching Vince, Paul, Lawrence & Richard it's impossible not to wonder what became of them. I was fortunate to see the film at the Whitechapel library last year and two of the quartet plus their old youth worker Dan Jones were in attendance. Against the odds, all four are alive and well, have families, none ever went to prison, and despite the gloomy prediction and tone of the film, all made something of their lives. Good on 'em.