Formby (Perry Benson) like other young inmate Woods, has an epitomising effect as a character, this time showing the simple cruelty of the borstal system. He is the youngest portrayed inmate, at just 14, and duly looks like a child among the teenagers and young adults around him. He is seen in numerous scenes just sitting in the recreation room, looking petrified and desperately unhappy. He wears large spectacles and has an unbroken voice which confirms his pre-adolescent age when, in his only speaking scene - a group discussion with the Matron - he asks why he's so far from home (Eckersley unsubtly retorts: "Because you murdered that kid" and gets admonished by the Matron, who then also has to scold Archer after he protests about someone aged 14 being in such an institution) and when Matron gives a soulless response from the statute book, Formby complains - touchingly and poignantly - that he'd never had a visitor.

His only other contribution comes when Toyne, grieving for his deceased wife, runs amok around the recreation room with his wrists cut and, in the chaos, he crashes into Formby as he yells in agony, knocking him off his chair. Formby is in the borstal because the penal system, according to the Matron, has no specialist units for boys of his age. It is quite clear from Formby's immaturity and demeanour that he should not ever have been placed with hardened older criminals when sentenced to custody.

His only saving graces are that, presumably due to his age, he is left alone by Banks' gang and the warders - indeed, he is never even referred to by anyone except Eckersley and Archer in the scene with the Matron - and also, due to his age, he seems to be exempt from having a prison job, as when Mr Sands instructs everyone to leave the recreation room and get to work, Formby and Toyne (who is about to slash his wrists) stay behind. Mr Sands, while telling Toyne to get up and join his colleagues for work, gives Formby little more than a glance.


"Why am I so far from 'ome, Matron?"

1977 VersionEdit

In the original BBC screenplay version of Scum, Formby is played by Philip DaCosta who later played Jackson in the 1979 film.

This version sees Formby as more impressionable than vulnerable, as seen when Richards and Eckersley corrupt the youngster with pornography and boastful ideas on crime lifestyles, to which he listens with keen interest.

See AlsoEdit