Director John Boorman drew from his own childhood experiences for this coming-of-age tale about a boy growing up in and around London during World War II. For young Billy Rowan, the nightly bombings provide a frightening show, but they include opportunities to rummage through the rubble with friends in the mornings. As Billy plays, his family struggles to remain intact as they suffer through the anguish and losses of wartime.
A plumber, John Horner, is arrested just before Christmas and charged with stealing a famous jewel, the Blue Carbuncle, from Lady Morcar. He denies the theft - but he has a criminal record, and all the evidence is against him. After Holmes's doorman finds the Carbuncle in a Christmas goose, Holmes uses an old hat to track the goose to a poultry dealer, then traps the servant who stole the jewel and framed the plumber. The Blue Carbuncle has a dark history, and the stone features in the programme's opening credits with turbulent scenes from its past.