A gay, smartly paced tale of the trials and tribulations of an itinerant English actor's family in the 1850's, is here told by a BBC television producer for children. The Mannerings-Joshua, Seraphina, Cecily, Lexy and 7-year old Clem, do Shakespeare and Restoration plays in the northern industrial towns. Homely but resourceful Lexy deals with the troubles in their cluttered lives, from the return of Cecily to their midst after six years of finishing school. There are flops on one- night stands, thefts, dissatisfied audiences, Cecily's hidden romance and so on, but the succession of disasters never quite submerge exuberant Lexy and her light-hearted family. Cecily finally elopes with a rich suitor, and there's a happy ending to the family problems. Robert Frankenberg has done atmospheric drawings for a pleasant book.