< Tucker's Luck: The Books

Tucker's Luck books

There were at least two Tucker's Luck print annuals produced (1984 and 1985), as well as three novels: Forty Days of Tucker J by Robert Leeson (1983), Tucker's Luck by Jan Needle (1984), and Tucker in Control by Jan Needle (1985).

The book Tucker and Co. by Phil Redmond (1982) takes place in the world of Grange Hill, not Tucker's Luck.


1984 tucker's luck annual Published 1983
IPC Magazines Ltd., London ("A Fleetway Annual")
ISBN 0850379539
Hardcover, 80 pages. Original price: £3.25
1984 Tucker's Luck Annual cover A sample inside spread with a Tucker Jenkins pin-up photo

This was for the first series of Tucker's Luck. Contents include:

Interviews with Todd Carty (Tucker), George Armstrong (Alan), and Paul McCarthy (Tommy).

Full-page "pin-up" colour publicity photos of Tucker Jenkins, Alan Humphries, Tommy Watson, Tommy and Michelle, Allison, and a group photo with Tucker, Allison, Michelle, and Tommy.

Two photo-stories, one about Tommy breaking up with a girl and trying to keep it a secret from Tucker and Alan, and the other about Tucker meeting a pretty motorcyclist just as his motorbike gets stolen and involved in a traffic accident!

Three Tucker's Luck short stories, each with photos.

Best Social Artifact: An article explaining, step by step, how to get on the dole.

Best Social Artifact, Runner-Up: An article describing careers for 16-year-old school-leavers. Among the choices: hairdresser, motor mechanic, store worker, office worker, police cadet, and the army. Pay rates range from £28.50 per week for an apprentice hairdresser to £2,910 per year (£56-57 per week) working in a bank.

Best Age Group Artifacts: An article with post-party cleaning tips, and an article explaining why school loves don't last.

Best 1980s Artifact: A "first jobs" feature with Boy George of Culture Club, Nick Heyward of Haircut 100, Simon LeBon, Midge Ure, Steve Norman of Spandau Ballet, and David Jaymes and Michael Mullins of Modern Romance.

Best Still-Relevant Information: a three-part series on getting a job.

Tidbit: In 1984, an unemployed 16- or 17-year-old living at home qualified for the dole at the rate of £15.80 per week, plus a rent addition of £3.10.

Odd bit: Passmore's sidekick, played by Steven Brown, is named in the show dialog and credits as "Brains," but throughout the Annual as "Brain Damage."

Odd bit 2: One of the short stories features Alan's Mum, who was never seen or mentioned in the show, and was presumably absent.

TRIVIA EXCERPT: At the time, Todd Carty's two favourite actors were Peter O'Toole and Clint Eastwood, and his favourite car was his maroon Morris 1000.
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1985 Tucker's Luck Annual Published 1984
IPC Magazines Ltd., London ("A Fleetway Annual")
ISBN 0850378656
Hardcover, 80 pages. Original price: £3.50
1985 Tucker's Luck Annual cover A sample inside spread with a Tucker Jenkins pin-up photo

This was for the second series of Tucker's Luck. Contents include:

Interviews with Todd Carty (Tucker), George Armstrong (Alan), and Paul McCarthy (Tommy).

Full-page "pin-up" colour publicity photos (3 each) of Tucker Jenkins, Alan Humphries, Tommy Watson.

Three photo-stories, one about Tucker losing his heart to a con artist, one about Alan taking on (and messing up) a small building job, and one about Tommy juggling three girlfriends!

Three Tucker's Luck short stories, each with photos.

A "Behind the Scenes" article, and an article about Todd Carty's agent.

Best Social Artifact: Photos of the stars at home.

Best Age Group Artifacts: Articles about the kinds of girls Todd Carty (Tucker) and Paul McCarthy (Tommy) would like to be with. Young ladies, start your hormones ...

Best 1980s Artifact: The hair! The home decor! The clothes! Hey, I still dress like that.

Tidbit: The audience for the first series of Tucker's Luck topped out at 4.7 million viewers.

Odd bit: No photos of Creamy, Ade, Junior, Susan, or Sarah.

TRIVIA EXCERPT: In episode 7, Gareth Milne, the stuntman standing in for Paul McCarthy as Tommy, was supposed to tumble into the water - the motorcycle wasn't supposed to go in! Once it had, though, some quick re-writing was needed to get the story back on-track.
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Novels based on Tucker's Luck included one original story and two novelisations of the broadcast series. Oddly, there was no novelisation of series 2. All three titles are out-of-print but not too difficult to find. Most were paperbacks, but a few hardcover copies may have been distributed to (or modified for) libraries and schools.

Forty Days of Tucker J, by Robert Leeson
Published by Fontana Lions, 1983
Paperback ISBN: 0006721761
Hardcover ISBN: 0563201819
Forty Days of Tucker J cover, featuring Tucker Jenkins
Original price: £1.00

This original story takes place almost immediately after Tucker leaves Grange Hill. His parents give him until half-term to find work or return to school. The novel takes the form of a day-by-day account of Tucker's efforts and travails at the hands of The System. Thanks to Lindi for the photo!

Tidbit: Tucker's older brother works on an oil rig off the Shetlands.

Odd bits: The presence of Tucker's Dad (un-named), Tucker's older brother (also un-named), and a younger sister named ... Tracy!

Day Twelve

Began badly, but got better as it went on.

When Tucker arrived at the Employment Office (late) his friend at Box Six looked at her list and said: "Oh, what are you doing here?"

'I'm signing on, aren't I?'

'You shouldn't be. You're working. We've had your Parts 1 and 2 back from you.'

'Well, I'm not working, am I? I couldn't keep away from you.'

'You'll have to see the Supervisor.'

'I'd rather see you.'

'But he wants to see you. Next, please.'
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Tucker's Luck, by Jan Needle
Published by Fontana Lions, 1984.
Paperback ISBN 0006723950
Australian edition by Angus & Robertson, ISBN: 0233977147
Tucker's Luck cover, with Tucker, Allison, Michelle, and Tommy
Original price: £1.25

This is the novelisation of the first series. Unlike Great Days at Grange Hill (Fontana Lions, 1984) by the same author, the chapters do not follow the episodes. As a result, the book hangs together as a single work instead of a series of short stories.

Tidbit: Tucker's motorbike is described as an East European two-stroke, 125cc, single-cylinder.

Odd bit: Alan Humphries is referred to throughout as Alan Hargreaves.

(Tucker is in line at the dole office.)
Depressed, he looked at the shuffling lines of punters to left and right of him. Because he always came on the same day, once a fortnight, regular as clockwork, he knew a lot of them. The weird thing was, he knew them only by sight, not to talk to. Although they were all in the same boat, they didn't get to know each other. It was as if they were in cocoons, or shells. Sometimes, one of them would disappear for a while, presumably because they'd got a job at last. But all too often they turned up again, a few weeks later, looking just the same. Or sometimes just a little worse. Tireder. More fed up. Further into the shell.
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Tucker in Control, by Jan Needle
Published by Andre Deutsch Ltd., 1985
Hardback ISBN: 0233978976
Paperback published by Magnet/Methuen Children's Books Ltd
Paperback ISBN: 0416479006
Tucker In Control cover, with Tucker poolside
Original price: £1.75

This is the third series recast as a novel, with more overt digs at Thatcher's domestic policies. The novel's structure mirrors the series' episodic structure quite closely, with most episodes spanning two or three chapters and others condensed to a single chapter.

Tidbits: Barry has a borstal (youth reform prison) record and a legitimate trade (in addition to his dodgy ones) as a steel erector. And, Barry's ex-fiancee (mentioned in series 1) is named Pamela.

Odd bit: Alan Humphries is still named Alan Hargreaves!

By the time Wonderwoman's Economic Miracle had made overtime as rare as hen's teeth and put Mrs. Jenkins out of work, she'd found that being thrown back together with her husband was not the dream she'd thought it would be. They didn't have a lot to enjoy together any more. And they were fairly short of cash.
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