Filmed in real schools in the 1980s, the trials and tribulations of the pupils at Grange Hill had a nation of teenagers gripped.
The signature tune played over a comic strip introduction, is still as memorable today despite not being on screens for more than 14 years. The show, which portrayed life in a comprehensive school, ran for three decades and was notable for its hard-hitting storylines – particularly for a children’s series – and is still fondly remembered by millions of viewers of a certain age.
This week it was announced that Grange Hill: The Movie is due out later this year, with creator Phil Redmond saying the script is ready with plans to bring back former alumni for the film.
Sir Phil Redmond said the show “changed the perception that children’s television should all be Secret Garden and Enid Blyton”. Discussing the pressure of bringing it back, he told BBC Breakfast: “If my hair could get any greyer it would do. We’ve only just started like working through the script. We go into production this year for release next year, so if anybody wants to form an orderly queue in the casting line, they can just wait a couple of months, that’d be great.”
Welsh actor Celyn Jones is co-writing the movie and says: “In a previous life, I played Mr Green the English teacher in Grange Hill. I can reveal Sir Phil Redmond suggested that it was time to bring back Grange Hill. I think bringing back Grange Hill was the bat signal he couldn’t ignore any longer. Until they are in that school dinner queue we cannot say who will be coming back.
“When the news was released about the movie, I am sure you would have heard somebody, somewhere, singing the theme tune. I want the theme tune, I want the badge, I want a sausage on the fork. We also want the social realism, the good humour, the caper and the poignancy.”
But where are the original cast and what are they doing now?
Zammo Maguire (Lee MacDonald)
He was at the centre of one of Grange Hill’s most impactful storylines, when the cheeky schoolboy developed a heroin addiction.
His addiction sparked an anti-drugs campaign – Just Say No – and some of the cast even travelled to Washington to meet Nancy Reagan at the White House.
Actor Lee, now 53, recently became engaged. After leaving Grange Hill, he worked as a locksmith and more recently he appeared in EastEnders, playing Terry until his run ended last year.
Ziggy (George Wilson)
A fan favourite, the actor first appeared on our screens in 1986 when he took on the role of Ziggy Greaves in Grange Hill. He went on to be part of other soaps such as Brookside appearing as Little Jimmy Corkhill.
However, it seems it hasn’t always been easy being famous and George has hit some bumps in the road during his career. His undiagnosed bipolar disorder took him to the brink of suicide after suffering manic episodes and a close shave with death.
He spoke to the Liverpool ECHO back in 2019 about his struggles as he said: “I tried to commit suicide in the early 1990s, because I thought I was going to feel the way I did forever. I took an overdose of pills but, luckily, my mum found me and I was taken to hospital to have my stomach pumped.”
In 1989, he witnessed the Hillsborough disaster and had a spell in hospital but it now getting treatment for his condition. Over Christmas, he appeared in a celebrity version of Pointless.
Tucker (Todd Carty)
Actor Todd Carty is another Grange Hill alumni who moved on to pastures new at EastEnders. He played Tucker Jenkins and once he left Grange Hill in 1982 after four years, he landed a spin-off series – Tucker’s Luck! He then went on to play Mark Fowler in Albert Square for 13 years.
Todd, 58, is married to his childhood sweetheart Dina Clarkin. The pair have two sons. He still acts and directs, but you might remember him for performing the funniest mistake ever seen on Dancing on Ice in 2009! Most recently, he appeared in the film Silver Birches in 2017 about an author struggling to rebuild his life after the untimely death of his wife.
Faye Lucas (Alison Valentine)
Recruited into acting at the age of eight by Sylvia Young she appeared in various television advertisements, before getting the role of Fay Lucas between 1982 and 1987. One of her most notable stoyrlines was having an affair with one of her teachers, Mr King, and she sang on Just Say No.
She gave up performing in the 1990s to marry and bring up her family. During her time away from acting she qualified as a beauty therapist, and in 2005 she set up a specialist freight forwarding company called Kenvale Recruitment. She has four children and two of her sons have followed her into acting with roles in Dr Who and EastEnders.
Rowland ‘Roly’ Browning (Erkan Mustafa)
Erkan portrayed the intelligent but badly bullied boy between 1982 and 1987. The Golden Wonder crisps-loving schoolboy offered Erkan opportunities, and he later starred in Lenny Henry’s 90s sitcom Chef! He studied for a time at Swansea University had has appeared on shows like Soccer AM and Celebrity Juice and, after a spell as a caterer, he is now a director and writer.
Norman “Gripper” Stebson (Mark Savage)
Bully boy Gripper was a terrible thug, played by Mark Savage from 1981 to 1983, who was expelled. Weirdly, former Prime Minister David Cameron said that Gripper was his favourite character.
Actor Mark Savage said that people were terrible to him after Grange Hill, paying him back for his characters misdemeanours. He told the Mirror in 1998: “It was a nightmare. I was attacked so many times – on the bus, in the street – I lost count. It was open season on Gripper.”
The 56-year-old actor came close to homelessness after spending a fortune looking after his ill mother in 1998 but has since continued to act, featuring in theatre productions and a Morrissey music video.
Benny Green (Terry Sue-Patt)
The very first child through the gates of Grange Hill in February 1978. The character had a huge talent for football, though his struggling family could barely cover the cost of his school uniform.
Talking about his time on the show, he said: “I basically played myself in Grange Hill. I had a great time, getting time off school to play football. It was a bit of a dream come true, really.”
Sadly, the popular actor was found dead in his flat in Walthamstow back in 2015. He was 50. Police said they believed his body had been there more more than a month.
Trisha Yates (Michelle Herbert)
She starred as a classroom rebel from 1978 to 1982, constantly in trouble for wearing make-up and flouting uniform regulations. She did reprise the role of Trisha Yates in an episode of the spin-off Tucker’s Luck, but in real life left acting to settle in Dundee with her husband, where they run All Glass and Glazing. She spoke out about her battle with breast cancer in 2015.
Robbie Wright (John Alford)
The actor played the angel-faced boy from 1985 until 1990 and enjoyed success after that. He went on to act in London’s Burning and even enjoyed a stint as a pop star. But, the now-50-year-old was caught in a drugs sting in 2019. He was handed a community order after resisting arrest in an incident involving a bin lorry.
Suzanne Ross (Susan Tully)
Susan Tully landed her Grange Hill role in 1981, aged 13. Playing the popular rebel won her the part of Michelle Fowler in EastEnders which she played for a decade. Susan, 54, is extremely private about her personal life and is now one of the most respected directors in television. Her credits include Line of Duty, Lark Rise to Candleford and Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
Luke “Gonch” Gardner (John Holmes)
Gonch was always a bit of a hustler – the character would sell toast and even lend PE kit to pupils in order to make a few bob. After leaving the show, John studied at the University of Easy Anglia, becoming the head of the student union. The now 51-year-old went on to manage a casino.
Christopher “Stewpot” Stewart (Mark Burdis)
Stewpot was played by Mark Burdis from 1981 to 1985. You might remember him as Kev from the “Bev? Kev?” AA adverts featuring Olivia Colman. The actor has also featured in shows like The Bill, EastEnders and Only Fools and Horses. He is now a boxing ring announcer as well as an actor.
Terence ‘Tegs’ Ratcliffe (Sean Maguire)
He may have rose to fame as a child star on shows like Grange Hill, but he’s more recently had success stateside – becoming somewhat of a Hollywood heartthrob.
The 45-year-old joined the drama when he was around 11 – with the actor playing the role from 1988 until his departure in 1991. He later appeared as apprentice footballer Aidan Brosnan on EastEnders in 1993 – with the character involved in a high-profile arc featuring homelessness and drug-abuse.
More than 23 million are said to have watched the Christmas Day episode that year – in which Aidan tried to take his own life. He left Walford in the following episode. He now lives and works in LA with his wife and two sons.
Mrs McClusky (Gwyneth Powell)
Grange Hill’s headteacher was in charge between 1981 and 1991. Now 75, the actress went on to act in shows including A Touch of Frost, Casualty, Doctors and Holby City. She also starred as Mum in Channel 4 sitcom Man Down from 2013-2018, and was recently on an episode of Pointless Celebrities with George Wilson who played Ziggy.
Mr Bronson (Michael Sheard)
The super strict deputy headteacher scared the life out of pupils between 1985 and 1989. Played by Michael Sheard, kids took the mick out of his wig but rarely to his face – his foghorn voice and bad temper frightened the children! The Rada-trained actor died of cancer in his Isle of Wight home on August 31, 2005. He was 67.
Mr “Bullet” Baxter (Michael Cronin)
Another strict one, Bullet Baxter ruled the PE department with an iron fist. He went on to be deputy head at Grange Hill before leaving in 1987 to run a leisure centre. Actor Michael Cronin reprised the role of Mr Baxter in the late 90s for the ITV sitcom The Grimleys.
Now 80, the actor’s credits also include Fawlty Towers and Vera. He has also developed film scripts and published three successful children’s novels.
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