There's Only One Jimmy Grimble plays a bit like one of those lovingly-made Sunday night dramas the BBC used to do, and it's no surprise that this is TV veteran Hay's debut feature. However, dealing in themes of insecurity, disappointment and the youthful fear of everything, there must be few who had such a blissful adolescence that they can't relate to Jimmy's daily battles with simply making it through the day.
Jimmy Grimble's moral - that confidence has to come from within - is hardly original. Nevertheless, the film touches the heart thanks to honest performances from its young cast, John De Borman's bleak, yet beautiful, cinematography, and supporting actors (including John McArdle, Brookie's legendary Billy Corkhill) who flesh out their roles without imbalancing the film.
Jimmy is played by first-time actor McKenzie, and his inexperience shows. Luckily, this turns out to be a plus rather than a drawback, his gaucheness adding to the study in awkward teenage lad-dom, conveying in a glance the horrible embarrassment of those years, only to melt the screen seconds later with a cheeky grin.
Carlyle (as Eric, Jimmy's world-weary PE teacher) plays the tortured soul with the ease most people associate with falling off a log. Nevertheless, the slightness of the role makes you wonder why he took the part in the first place, similarly Gina McKee (Jimmy's mother) and Ray Winstone (her ex, Harry) - all three are as good as you'd expect, but play definite second fiddle to their young co-stars.
The football sequences are involving, the film is shot through with a gentle humour - witness Ben Miller's leather-clad Two Dogs - and, as is always the case in underdog-makes-good films, you can't help rooting for Jimmy when he steps up for the footie finale.
Yet, none of the above can detract from the plot's aching predictability (it certainly is grim up North!), nor from the film's decidedly small-screen scale.