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Buddy – BBC serial filmed in Bohemia

1986 BBC series shot in Bohemia

1986 BBC series shot in Bohemia

By Stuart Huggett

In 1986, the BBC screened Buddy, a five-part drama serial for schools. Adapted by writer Nigel Hinton from his 1982 novel, Buddy was filmed entirely on location around Hastings, St Leonards (Bohemia and Hollington in particular) and Eastbourne.

The title role of troubled teenager Buddy was taken by young actor Wayne Goddard, in his first television appearance. Cast in the major part of Buddy’s father Terry, was Roger Daltrey of rock band The Who.

Daltrey already had close ties to the region, having purchased Holmshurst Manor near Burwash back in the 1970s. He had returned to acting in the early 80s following a break in The Who’s touring activities, and while preparations for Buddy were underway he appeared in a straight to video movie, Murder: Ultimate Grounds for Divorce. Scripted by local filmmaker Tim Purcell, this little-seen psychodrama teamed Daltrey up with former Quadrophenia stars Leslie Ash and Toyah Wilcox, and was shot on location near Fairlight.


Buddy paperback to tie in with the television series

Buddy paperback to tie in with the television series


On 19th September 1985, the Hastings Observer’s Angela Harffey reported that a BBC crew would be visiting the town for seven weeks to film Buddy (‘Estate to feature in BBC film’). Her short article revealed that the film unit would be taking over a whole house on the Hollington estate. It explained, ‘The house has recently been underpinned and had external work done and is not yet suitable for re-letting so the housing committee have given the go-ahead to the BBC.’ This property on Quebec Road was used as Buddy’s family home.


Another key location, the purportedly haunted house on ‘Croxley Street’, was found in Springfield Road, Bohemia. Several short night scenes were filmed nearby, on Bohemia Road, Tower Road (outside The Tower pub and the old Woodlands School) and Station Approach (by the bottom of Ellenslea Road and The Clifton Tavern pub – now the Southwater Area Community Centre), while nearby St Leonards Gardens appears in several daytime scenes.

Viewed again some 25 years on, Buddy captures the feel of a down-at-heel Hastings, prior to its redevelopment. The town centre looks desolate, although when Terry and Buddy leave The Clarence pub on (not yet pedestrianised) Middle Street, the Central Cricket Ground can be seen in the background. There are also tantalising glimpses of the old, much loved seafront illuminations.

A number of historic local businesses appear too. Buddy and his father try on clothes in Dengate’s, Cambridge Gardens, and fill up on fast food at Rumples burger bar on Queens Road. The Odeon appears in its previous incarnation as the Classic Cinema, while Buddy makes several visits to Woolworths. One notable surviving business is JS Gedge motorcycles, who impound Terry’s bike early on. Father and son buy it back from the company’s Pevensey Bay showroom later in the series, and, in a nod to both Quadrophenia and Tommy, go riding along the Beachy Head Road before stopping off to play pinball.

John Wesley Harding

In 1990, Hinton’s sequel to Buddy, musical drama Buddy’s Song, reached British cinemas, again starring Roger Daltrey but with newcomer Chesney Hawkes (son of The Tremeloes’ Chip Hawkes) in the title role. Buddy’s Song was filmed within the estates, precincts and scrap yards of Berks, Bucks and Oxon, but it did retain one link to Hastings.

Although mainly remembered for Hawkes’ number one single The One and Only (written by 80s pop star Nik Kershaw), the lion’s share of the Buddy’s Song soundtrack was penned by Hinton himself. He was assisted in this task by cult singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding – the stage name of Hastings-born author and musician Wesley Stace.

Heinemann published the TV script of Buddy in 1987. The serial has never received a commercial release, although sections can be found on YouTube. Nigel Hinton’s Buddy novels are published by Puffin Books.

Thanks to Tony Owen for his help with this feature.

Selected screenshots (kindly provided by Stuart Huggett)

Springfield Road

Springfield Road

Owbenn's furniture shop, Bohemia Road
Owbenn’s antique shop, Bohemia Road

Roger Daltry in Springfield Road
Roger Daltry in Springfield Road

Bohemia Road, Owbenn’s Antique shop on corner

Tower pub and Woodlands School

Tower pub and Woodlands School

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