I was maybe a couple of years older than 'Sam' is when this series was first broadcast, and although I was too young to understand everything going on in the series, I remember much of it as though it were only yesterday. For example Sam's grandad's exhortation to 'Get thee to that school and breathe in them books til they come out of thy ears. Tha'll end up here (the pit) else' remains extremely vivid over thirty years later. At the end of the series, Sam's mother has died, his father remains absent and he does indeed end up down the pit. However, this brilliant series isn't all doom and gloom; there are some lovely touches of humour, mainly provided by, or at the expense of the engaging character of his Uncle George played by Ray Smith. The acting and scripts are wonderful throughout. Perhaps the other most memorable character is Sam's strict, but proud, maternal grandfather, played by Michael Goodlife. I remember being shocked when the actor committed suicide a couple of years later. Perhaps southern viewers might need subtitles, which sadly aren't provided, if they are to fully understand the northern dialect, but personally I can't wait for the second series which is due out soon. I can't remember if they made a third series.
One slight criticism (apart from the lack of subtitles) I have is why haven't Acorn made the series available as a complete box set as they have with so many other series, including the equally excellent, and occasionally similar, 'When The Boat Comes In.'?
My other criticism is of modern television - series such as Sam, When The Boat Comes In, Family At War, To Serve Them All My Days, Fox, Tenko, Secret Army, All Creatures Great And Small, etc, none of which needed sex or swearing but just good acting and engaging stories - put today's formulaic offerings (police series, reality shows, etc) to shame. Will many modern TV shows be worth releasing in a generation's time?