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Winners – Top Kid (1985)


It’s 1947 and times are tough for ten-year-old Gary Doyle (Emil Minty), the third child of a large, poor Catholic family. Bright, and with a photographic memory, Gary is constantly picked on and beaten up by the boys at school. Gary’s teachers want him to go to a special school for bright kids where his talents will be better developed but his father (Harold Hopkins) won’t have it.

When Gary wins a radio quiz show and is asked to become a regular he finds fame and fortune within his reach. But when they start rigging the show, the religious and ethical Gary has a difficult decision to make, caught between his belief in honesty and the benefits fame can bring. This is a story about a boy’s moral dilemma.

Curator’s notes

Top Kid is one of my favourite Winners films. A compelling moral drama, made more powerful by its refusal to deal in absolutes, Top Kid draws on the real life rigging of top American quiz shows in the 1950s that resulted in a USA House of Representatives enquiry and the networks having to drop these shows. A beautifully scripted and shot film, the film’s ambiguous ending is part of its strength – it refuses to wrap up the dilemma with a neat solution. The ambiguity of the final scene was designed to reveal the enormous pressures on this young boy and to provoke audience reflection.

First broadcast in 1985 on Network Ten.