Grange Hill

Mar 1, 2021 | Blog Posts

Grange Hill was one of the most popular children’s TV programmes. Conceived by Brookside and Hollyoaks creator, Phil Redmond, the BBC series began in 1978.

Although Grange Hill recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, in 2008 it was axed after 30 years – making it one of the longest-running programmes on television. It was especially popular during the 1980s.

The drama focused on the lives of school children at a comprehensive in fictional Northam, in North London. The school was originally going to be called Grange Park, but ended up being named Grange Hill.

Filming took place at various schools in London, as well as in the studio, although the set moved to Liverpool in 2003.

Grange Hill opened with a comic strip montage to the theme tune of Chicken Man, and followed the lives of school pupils in various situations and dramas. Many of the storylines were gritty and portrayed real life for working class students. Phil Redmond wasn’t shy about tackling topical or controversial issues including bullying, underage drinking, racism, theft, truancy, violence, death by misadventure and rape, although there were plenty of moments of light-hearted comedy, too.

One of the most significant storylines featured in 1986 when character Zammo McGuire became embroiled in heroin addiction. This went on to form a ‘Just Say No’ campaign and a hit single.

Tucker Jenkins was also one of the most popular stars of the show, alongside his two chums, Al and Tommy. The trio were always plotting their next scheme or attempt to avoid homework, with an unsuccessful trip to France being one of programme’s highlights. So popular were these characters, they went on to have their own spin-off series, Tucker’s Luck, during 1983-85. Tucker actor, Todd Carty, went on to enjoy a successful career in Eastenders.

Roly Browning was also a firm favourite of the show, who bore the brunt of the bullies, while Trisha Yates was known for being gobby. Fay Lucus was a notable character, who had a fling with her maths teacher, while Gonch and Holly were fondly remembered for their ill-fated moneymaking schemes. During the late 1990s, a nasty, knife-carrying bully, Sean Pearce, was a dominant character. Famous teachers in the show included the head, Mrs McClusky and Mr Bronson.

Notable storylines include episode 8, where Doyle accidentally ruins some artwork, episode 4, when some of the students have a swimming lesson, the Isle of Wight trip in episode 13, the glitzy end-of-term prom in episode 20 and Chrissy almost giving birth in the school toilets in episode 7. Many of the storylines would take place between lessons in the locker room. For instance, in series 1, episode 2, the pupils are getting changed for PE and in series 14, episode 7, uproar ensues when the school decides to charge pupils for the use of the lockers!

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