Grange Hill (TV Series 1978–2008) Poster

(1978–2008)

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8/10
OMG! Anthony Minghella once directed some episodes! Well, that explains the quality...
Howlin Wolf11 May 2002
Perhaps its heyday is now in the past, but "Grange Hill" was long one of the most arresting and high quality soap operas on television. There was a fantastic mix of actors and actresses, and writing that confronted some of the major issues that teenagers have to deal with, but mostly without preaching and irresponsibility. I have to say that I view this approach as mostly being down to one man - Phil Redmond. (Surprise surprise, NOT Anthony Minghella!!) I rarely, if ever, watch "Brookside" or "Hollyoaks", but even these, his other two notable creations, display a similar innovative style. Top marks to the man who injected a bit of 'risk into 'youth culture' T.V!

"Grange Hill" is now an institution, spawning many talented performers (and some not so... !) in its long running tenure. As far as I know, it's still going today as well! This is a series that speaks to young people as being the future of our society, not the curse of it. For that it should be applauded. Well done to the producers for maintaining such high quality standards.

As an afterthought, why do my favourite characters never appear in a list of anybody else's favourites? I chiefly remember Justine and Georgina, and that probably has a lot to do with my sex, age and sexual orientation... !
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Being a teenager - at it's most painful.
GilraenEstel29 January 2001
When you were a teenager, it always felt as if the world was against you. No matter what you did, how much you tried to impress people - there was always something wrong, someone to put you in your place.

That is the brilliance of Grange Hill - it depicts British school life excellently: the everyday hum-drum of moving from one lesson to the other; the mind-numbing, soul-crushing hell hole that you have to attend every day for five years; the peer pressure and the bullying and most of all, realising that this is your life and it's never going to change. (And no, I didn't like school much!)

When you were at school, there was always kids whose parents were getting divorced, gay, on drugs, seriously depressed, victim of abuse or pregnant. Grange Hill doesn't just present the problem, it explores how that problem came about, the effect on that character and most of all the reaction of their peers when it all comes out (which it always does). There is always something compulsive about watching on the tele what you know to be happening all around you, what happens to your closest friend or worst enemy - because it's real.

Compulsive viewing for any one who is/was a teenager.
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School's Out!
Buck Aroo21 February 2002
I remember watching the very first episode of Grange Hill, when Tucker Jenkins the-soon-to-be star of the series, went to meet his friend Benny Green before their first day at school. That was in 1978. I soon became hooked on the series, like most of my age group back then, and was grateful that it was shown twice a week, which was-and still is-unusual for TV drama. Through subsequant episodes, we followed the exploits of the many characters who passed through the school's gates. And, we also could relate to the many problems that the characters experienced, as most of us at some time or other, had been subjected to bullying, peer pressure, the problems of divorce, and even drug abuse.

The BBC had to endure the scourge of many complaints from parents and various groups. And they also had the likes of people such as Mary Whitehouse, critisising them for corrupting Britain's youth. I remember that the BBC once screened a special debate programme called Speaking Out, in which actors from the series, and real pupils and teachers from schools discussed the issues sometimes covered in Grange Hill. At the time, there was a major fuss because a female character in the series, played by Paula Ann Bland, wanted to go on the pill. Shock Horror!!

Well, it was a primative time 1982 y'know.

I regard the classic period of Grange Hill to be somewhere between 1979 to 1989, and since then, I have stopped watching.
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10/10
Classic TV show - should be brought back...
darrenforster9929 November 2008
The BBC in my opinion have totally lost the plot over the last few years, cancelling such classic TV shows like Grange Hill, Byker Grove, TOTP and even losing Neighbours to Channel 5 (although I wasn't a great fan of Neighbours though, so I was glad to see that one go!).

The director general of the BBC should be sacked for the mess he's made over the past few years of what was regarded as such a high class institution, but has now gone right down in society, with the best new rubbish they can come up with is idiots like Jonathan Ross. I bet most of these top shows were axed just so they could pay this idiots wages (and then look what he does). I certainly don't agree that the BBC should have just suspended Rossy, they should have fired him, if the BBC had fired him the only job he would have got after his lewd comments would have been doing stand-up in front of a private audience as no other company would take the risk to re-employ him.

The BBC need to stop and look at the mess they are making and to bring back shows such as Grange Hill which helped school children understand various things in school life. I only wish that they had covered Asperger's on Grange Hill a little earlier as I went through school with Asperger's and ADHD and most of the kids around me didn't understand me at all. Where as now thanks to Grange Hill covering this it seems that quite a lot of young people are fully aware of Asperger's and show some understanding towards the problems faced.
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Better than prime time TV.
Chris Gaskin30 January 2002
I have been watching Grange Hill since the early 1980's and still watch it to this day, even though I have long left school.

This drama is better than some of the rubbish which is on TV in the evenings at prime time. A lot of the time all there is on are repeats of detective shows or cheap to make 'fly on the wall' documentaries.

The young actors and actresses take good parts and a lot have moved on to become well known and star in soaps like EastEnders. Some quite well known faces have played the teachers too such as Anna Quayle (Mrs Munroe) who was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
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10/10
Thirty Years at School
geffers7 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard to summarise 30 years of Grange Hill - so many characters, and story lines. At the time of writing, the last series is due to be shown, with a substantially altered target audience of younger children. Probably as a direct result of this, the show itself has been cancelled.

Grange Hill started in 1978 with a nine part series. After that there were typically 20 episodes, sometimes fewer, sometimes more. Grange Hill is set, originally anyway, in North London - a fictional suburb called Northam, postcode region N24 in one episode, something different in another. The series' strength is its sharp writing, and strong element of humour in among the serious themes.

The 30 series (ignoring Series 31 for the moment) can be divided into three eras, which have quite a different feel. The first era, set at various real schools around London, lasts seven years and is the time when we have Tucker, and later Gripper, Zammo and Roly. Then there's a long middle era where the series is predominantly set at the BBC's Elstree Studios: at this point the series has matured into a mixture of the fun and the serious: the writers don't shy away from difficult subjects, from the dangers of firearms, the dangers of AIDS, alcoholism, shoplifting, the sorrow of losing one's mother or father, diseases such as ME, sexual assault and Internet grooming. The final era occurs when the production moved to Liverpool, in 2001. I fear this was a grave mistake as the series becomes something else - not necessarily something bad, but the essential "Londonness" has gone. The style changes at this point, you notice that you see very few external shots - views of home life are minimal after series 26.

I don't believe there's any year of Grange Hill without some merit. For me, Series 4 and 30 are pretty awful, perhaps the worst of the bunch. In Series 4, the dominant characters are still Tucker, and his male friends, with Trisha and Cathy on the female side, and it's all just a bit stale. There are new characters coming up, but they don't quite make an impact before the next series - Suzanne and Gripper are just too young yet - then Series 5 starts with a host of new characters who breathe life back in. Series 30 is weak because it seems to be regurgitating old ideas from just two years before - Alex's bullying is a repeat performance of the brilliant series 28, in which the headmistress adamantly promised to stop such things, after all, Alex came close to death. And yet, here it all is again, and the headmistress noticeable by her absence - a great gaping hole - she's still in the school, apparently, just never seen. Emma's storyline with her pregnancy is slow to gather pace. There's very little to recommend Series 30 - we've lost Lauren Bunney who was just so brilliant as Annie a couple of years earlier. Also, there are just no classroom scenes at all and too few teachers for it to feel like a large comprehensive. Baz's death seems just stupid, and unnecessary. But even in such a dire series, there are moments which are good - thanks to the great acting of Kirsten and Chris, playing Tanya and Togger. Kirsten can make one facial gesture, and you know what her character is thinking, and meaning. Daniella too is great here. The younger set show great promise too: Mia Smith, and Jack McCullen (Chloe and Tigger) are brilliant. In fact that's one thing that's greatly improved since the series began - the acting of the younger performers, a little wooden in the early years, and so much better now. Perhaps Series 30's problem is money - it feels like they had only half the cash to spend, and couldn't afford to build and strike enough sets, so made do with what they had available.

There's a certain amount of political correctiveness in Grange Hill: it's commendable, but at the same time a little unrealistic. For instance, Rachel's Cerebral Palsy goes almost unmentioned - of course this is how things ought to be in an ideal world, but probably not what happens in schools. Francesca Martinez does, I think, rise above being just an example of someone with her disability to become a character who plays a part in her own right over several years. Her role in the series is never one of a girl fighting with the troubles her physical body cause her. In the same way, Holly, deaf, but stunningly beautiful, has story lines like everyone else, except that her lip-reading is an additional benefit rather than her deafness being a negative thing. Racism occurs occasionally, and is a major storyline in series six, with Gripper Stebson picking on a Sikh boy. In later years there's a free mix of people from different ethnic backgrounds, and no point made: people's skin colour is irrelevant, and that's how it should be. The same is true of homosexuality - one of the teachers "comes out", but once the prejudices are brought into the open, nothing more is made of that aspect of the teacher. The swearing, or lack of it, is unrealistic: this is the dilemma of a children's show. The viewer can mentally translate the mild 1950's style of language of "Flippin' 'Eck" into something stronger perhaps! In November 2007, the first four series were released to DVD. Many people bought the series remembering Tucker Jenkins. It doesn't seem likely that more series are going to be released, but perhaps there is the chance of some kind of paid downloads becoming available. There was some disappointment with the DVDs - partly because of cuts for copyrighted music, and also because the picture quality seemed affected by some kind of filmizing process.
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The best show for kids ever!
british_tv_luva13 February 2005
Grange Hill never fails to entertain me. It has been running for many years but each year it just gets better! Well Done BBC!! Another great show from the BBC is Byker Grove which is set in Newcastle. Its truly great and is better for 13+ than younger kids while shows such as UBOS is definitely not for teens. Grange Hill always brings in great new characters each school year but some also leave as they reach sixth form. I have seen many great characters go but the BBC make up for this b bringing in some more fantastic people. However i feel Mersey Televiion have let us down this year as they have brought in some really poor actors and its not good watching!
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Can this programme get any more stupid?
RickW-UK11 April 2004
Personally i think that kids programmes featuring schools and ridiculous. They are NOTHING like the real thing, i left school last year and this programme is just one huge laugh.

Its only a couple of years ago that Grange Hill was home to 'The Double Dare gang', i mean come on! How many teenagers that you know would join the 'Double Dare Gang'

All of the teachers have changed, and some of the almost real characters have left, while the writers keep coming up with excuses to keep older pupils within the school.

Finish this show and make something realistic!

Rick
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10/10
Watched this every week from 82-89 ---SPOILER ALERT!!!---
smnbee-1158629 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
What can I say about Grange Hill? Plenty...

Okay, for those of you that have never seen it, Grange Hill was a children's TV drama set in an inner-city School set somewhere in North London. The show dealt with serious issues (bullying, racism, sexual harassment, young love, drug use, health issues from Nits to Bulimia and rival school fights). Both teachers and pupils were portrayed excellently by adult and child actors respectively and to anyone who was a pupil at such a school (modern comprehensive) will feel a jarring nostalgia when watching.

What was most impressive was the memorable characters, Every type of teacher and pupil was represented here, the more famous being Peter 'Tucker' Jenkins, a lovable, streetwise rogue, Norman 'Gripper' Stebson, a nasty bully with a speciality in extortion and racism. Douglas 'Pogo' Patterson, a fun loving entrepreneur who tried to make a few pence selling whatever he could get his hands on. Roland 'Roly' Browning, a fat, bespectacled victim who suffered at the hands of Gripper. And teachers, Mr Hopkins, a firm but fair woodwork teacher, Mrs McClusky the stern head-mistress who took no nonsense from the pupils or teachers, but was approachable. Mr McGuffy, an art teacher who was liberal. Mr Baxter, the no-nonsense PE teacher with a (very) small soft side, and the terrifying Mr Bronson, an ultra-strict French teacher (former Latin Master at a grammar school) now forced to work with more rebellious working-class pupils, including his nemesis Danny Kendall, a true pint-sized rebel who suffered abuse from no one, and one of the best pupil characters in the show. All of them made their mark on whoever had the privilege of watching them at the time of airing.

The most covered issue was bullying, and the retaliations from the more confident pupils, there were no shortage of bullies, or heroes. One scene in mind was when Gripper was trying to tax money from Roland who was buying some pens from Douglas 'Pogo' Patterson, a wannabe Donald Trump who would sell everything he could get his hands on. Pogo, who was slightly older than Roland attempted to stick up for him against Gripper, but ended up with a bloody nose. But Pogo's friends came to the rescue and suddenly Gripper was surrounded by his victims. Quickly stripped of his profits from extortion and given a threat of a good beating if he tried it again. Gripper temporarily shied away from the crowd, only to come back with a new motive for making other kid's lives a misery, Racism.

The more famous issue was drugs, more specifically the addiction to Heroin by the once cheeky scrapper, Samuel 'Zammo' McGuire, who blasted onto the show in 82 with stink bombs in hand. As he got older, drugs took hold and the plot showed the full affect that drugs can have on addicts and their friends and family. I will never forget the shocking (and brilliantly acted) scene where Roly (now slightly older and wiser from his troubles with Gripper), working in an amusement arcade, finding Zammo strung out in the back room with a piece of tin foil and a rolled up paper in his hands after chasing the dragon. The whole plot gave birth to 'Just Say No'. A single recorded by the young actors, most of whom were involved in the plot, to spread the dangers of drugs. The lovely Allison Bettles (Faye Lucas in the show) sang lead on this. It got to Number 5 in the UK charts and was a huge success.

Remember I mentioned Danny Kendall? His 'exit' was the most shocking to date. His rivalry with cold-shower disciplinarian Mr Bronson climaxed with Danny stealing Bronson's car (Drawing a white outline in his parking space)... and being found dead in the back seat after a neurological condition took it's toll. But that wasn't the first death, (A young lad fell off the roof of a multi-storey car park in 1980, and later in 1984, another young lad drowned in the school swimming pool trying to honour a dare).

The show was raw (for it's time) and hard-hitting (Fights were realistic and language was 'borderline'). But it was required viewing for any English child growing up in the 80's or 90's.
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10/10
The best kids show of its day
glenn-aylett27 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I was at secondary school when Grange Hill was at its peak in the early eighties. The episode with the sadistic games teacher who knocks kids around I could identify with as I had a games teacher just like that for the first two years. Bullying, yes been on the receiving end of that for a couple of years so could identify with Roland Browning while despising the school bully Gripper Stebson, the show's most evil character ever, who became a racist thug in series six( yes we had a few National Front types in my school as well). Also we had our equivalents of lovable rogues like Tucker Jenkins and a mixture of authoritarian teachers like Mr Keating and wet liberals like Mr Sutcliffe( I had an English teacher just like him).

You see Grange Hill worked so well and was so popular with teenagers because it reflected real life. Also fair play to the BBC for sticking with it as it was nearly cancelled in 1979 for being too controversial, and the show entertained generations of kids and curious adults for another 28 years. Nothing like it has never been made since.
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Grange hill has changed children's lives!!!
philcross5004 November 2004
Hi, I'm doing a media project that is questioning the effects debate, My theory is that without Children's programs such as grange hill, children would not be as accustomed to different experiences that they will later be shocked with. If anyone has ever been effected by the themes/story lines on grange hill or any other children's program email me. If you ever phoned one of the helplines available from children's programs please email. If you disagree about my theory please email me and argue your case, anything you have to say on the subject of TV and children just email it to me... It would be a great help!!!

Thank you.
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