The Double Deckers, Aswad and Don’t Turn Around

Last time I wrote about the film Summer Holiday but of course there was another Double Decker London bus that is etched on the memory of most people my age – The one used by that eclectic bunch of youngsters called, not surprisingly, “The Double Deckers”. The kids television sitcom, Here Come the Double Deckers, ran for 17 episodes between 1970-71 and was must watch telly for pre-teens of my generation.

double deckers

It all makes sense now in that it appears to have been made jointly by American 20th Century Fox and a British independent film company, obviously to appeal to both markets. It had a very different look to it at the time from most of our home-grown shows made by the BBC, Granada or Thames Television. Most of the child actors in it were however British and they included gang leader Scooper (sorry but even in those days I’m sure the writers should have been able to come up with a cooler name than that), Spring, Billie, Brains, Doughnut (you can imagine the furore nowadays over that one), Sticks (the token American) and little Tiger. All stereotypes were covered but of course in reality it is highly unlikely that such a bunch would have ended up hanging out together at all, as right through life we do tend to gravitate towards people most like ourselves but no matter, you didn’t really think about things like that at age 10, you just really enjoyed the show.

Something that has surprised me, it turns out that Scooper and Spring (whom I will write about more in a minute) were both aged around 17/18 when this was aired so like Ant and Dec, who got too old to hang around the youth club at Byker Grove, this pair were well past the age of playing in an old disused junk yard in 1971 – Wouldn’t have done for the little ‘uns  to see Scooper and Spring head off for a “swift half” however in the midst of building a gun that shoots chocolate candy so all good, wholesome, family fun.

Anyway back to our two heroes, the ones who obviously got a taste for life in the entertainment industry at a young age and kept going. Peter Firth, who played Scooper, has gone on to have a lengthy career in film, theatre and television and is currently masquerading as “Head Spook” Sir Harry Pearce in the long-running BBC drama set in the offices of MI5.

Looking back at the young Peter, he is a good-looking lad with a fine head of hair but I remember as a student watching him play the time-traveller Dominick Hide and although only in his 20s he definitely had thinning hair and a receding hairline – Nothing wrong with that at all but probably led him down a different path from that of becoming leading man material, and one which has served him well.

So now we come to Spring, the lovely Brinsley Forde who quite soon after his days as a Double Decker formed the reggae band Aswad. I don’t remember there being many home-grown reggae bands in the UK in the late ’70s and early ’80s but Aswad, although they never appeared on mainstream shows like Top Of The Pops, seemed to continually tour the Student Union circuit so were pretty well known for a long time before making the leap to chart success, reaching No. 1 in 1988 with Don’t Turn Around. Hadn’t realised that this break-up song had been recorded by so many people before Aswad gave it the full-blown reggae treatment, but it certainly worked well for them. Also hadn’t realised it was a Diane Warren composition, that lady lyricist, who along with Bernie Taupin could walk down a street unrecognised but must be one of the highest paid individuals, ever, in the music industry.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Being a child star seems to have mixed blessings as many haven’t had a smooth ride to adulthood at all. It seems however that once you find your particular niche, best to just keep your head down and work hard at it. Like Diane Warren, better to have a fairly anonymous life and enjoy what you do than experience the stress, strain and fleeting success of teen idolatry. Looking forward to seeing much more from Peter Firth and Brinsley Forde MBE in the future but for those of us who watched kids telly in the early ’70s, they will always be, Double Deckers!

Don’t Turn Around Lyrics
(Song by Albert Hammond/Diane Warren)

If you wanna leave, baby
I won’t beg you to stay
And if you wanna go, darlin’
Maybe it’s better that way

I’m gonna be strong, I’m gonna be fine
Don’t worry about this heart of mine
Walk out the door, see if I care?
Go on and go now but

Don’t turn around
‘Cause you’re gonna see my heart breakin’
Don’t turn around
I don’t want you seein’ me cryin’
Just walk away
It’s tearin’ me apart that you’re leavin’
I’m lettin’ you go and I won’t let you know
Baby, I won’t let you know

I won’t miss your arms around me
Holdin’ me tight
And if you ever think about me
Just know that I’m gonna be alright

I’m gonna be strong, I’m gonna be fine
Don’t worry about this heart of mine
I know I’ll survive it, I’ll make it through
And I’ll learn to live without you but

Don’t turn around
‘Cause you’re gonna see my heart breakin’
Don’t turn around
I don’t want you seein’ me cryin’
Just walk away
It’s tearin’ me apart that you’re leavin’
I’m lettin’ you go and I won’t let you know

I wish, I could scream out loud
That I love you
I wish, I could say to you
Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go

Don’t turn around
Don’t turn around
I don’t want you seein’ me crying
Just walk away
It’s tearin’ me apart that you’re leavin’
I’m lettin’ you go

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

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