Grange Hill

Grange Hill, the gritty television drama set in a comprehensive school in the 1970s, was ahead of its time in terms of dealing with controversial issues that most children's shows wouldn't have touched. It was the first kids' show that was hard-hitting and realistic - a winning formula that led to its continued success for 30 years.

It is 40 years since Grange Hill first appeared on our screens in 1978. Written by Phil Redmond, who went on to create the Channel 4 soaps Brookside and Hollyoaks, it was set in a fictional school in London and followed the daily lives of the pupils and staff.

The drama series was continually on our screens for three decades, until the final episode was broadcast on 15th September 2008. Many children grew up with Grange Hill and the show's characters matured with them.

Characters

You can't mention Grange Hill without immediately thinking about Peter "Tucker" Jenkins, possibly the most famous character in the show's history. He started out as a young tearaway, played by Todd Carty, from 1978 to 1982. He was always getting into trouble at school, thanks to his rebellious attitude, although he wasn't a bad kid at heart.

The storyline followed him into adult life, including the problems of failing to get a job on leaving school and joining the ranks of the unemployed - which was real life for many young people in the early 1980s. He had his own spin-off series called Tucker's Luck, which ran for three years.

Later, Carty joined BBC soap EastEnders as Mark Fowler until 2003, when he left to star in The Bill as psycho cop Gabriel until 2005. He has also appeared in Dancing on Ice and in the 2017 film, Silver Birches.

Another famous face in Grange Hill was head teacher Mrs McClusky, played by Gwyneth Powell from 1981 until 1991. After leaving the show, she had roles in Heartbeat, Casualty, A Touch of Frost and Holby City.

Actress Susan Tully played rebellious Grange Hill pupil Suzanne Ross from 1980 until 1984. She was always having altercations with Mrs McClusky and eventually left school without sitting her exams.

In reality, she had been offered a role as Michelle Fowler in EastEnders, where she remained from 1985 to 1995. She gave up acting to become a director and producer of British TV programmes after EastEnders.

Controversial storyline

Zammo Maguire, played by Lee MacDonald, starred in one of Grange Hill's most controversial plots in 1986, when the character became a heroin addict. The plot depicted his downward spiral and the detrimental effect drugs had on his life and relationships.

After starring as Zammo from 1982 to 1987, MacDonald left Grange Hill and appeared in The Bill and Birds of a Feather. He trained for a new career as a boxer, but following a car crash, he was unable to continue in the ring. He opened a key-cutting and locksmith shop in Wallington in 1999. He has appeared in a number of TV reality shows, including Cirque de Celebrité on Sky 1, Celebrity Scissorhands on BBC Three in aid of Children In Need and Pointless Celebrities. His most recent appearance was in 2016, on ITV's Who's Doing the Dishes?

Varied plots

A prank led to lives being put at risk in series two, when Tucker and his gang discovered an area of the school called The Tower, which was closed to pupils. After getting up to mischief, one pupil was accidentally locked in, so Tucker and friends returned to school after hours to free him. However, unauthorised access led to a fire in the auditorium. Luckily, no one was killed, but much of the students' work for the school play was destroyed.

Not all of the plots were controversial. Many focused on the day-to-day occurrences in the school that mirrored what was happening in real life at the time. In series two, the teachers went on strike, after confusion with the time-tables left their workload unmanageable.

A theme running throughout several series was the attempt by pupils to have the school uniform abolished. Bullying and racism were also tackled in a number of episodes over the years.

The series finally ended in 2008, when BBC bosses cancelled Grange Hill after deciding it had nothing new to offer. Today, it is seen as the forerunner to many modern school drama series, such as Waterloo Road and Ackley Bridge.

ISGUS UK

Although Grange Hill was a brilliant drama series, some of the events at the school could have been prevented - with the use of access control and time and attendance solutions.

ISGUS UK specialises in access control terminals that can be used for the opening and monitoring of doors, elevator control and recording employees' and visitors' access. Our ZEUS® time and attendance staff planning solutions would have prevented the timetable confusion that led to the crippling staff strike at Grange Hill!

Please contact us for further information.