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Hope and Glory (1999-2000)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Hope and Glory (1999-2000)
BBC, 22/6/1999-5/11/2000
16 episodes in 2 series, colour
DirectorJuliet May
ProducerNicolas Brown
ScriptLucy Gannon

Cast: Lenny Henry (Ian George); Amanda Redman (Debbie Bryan); Clive Russell (Phil Jakes); William Gaminara (Colin Ryan); Lee Warburton (Tony Elliott)

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An ambitious head-teacher is appointed to turn around a struggling inner-city comprehensive school.

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This topical drama series starring Lenny Henry as headteacher Ian George of an underachieving comprehensive school updated the education drama for the 90s. Hope and Glory New Labour's zeal for league tables, 'naming and shaming and 'superheads' was pitted against the grinding realities of chronic underfunding, demoralised staff and disaffected pupils. Though criticised by some for its heavy-handed melodrama and sentimentality, the series was popular with audiences (three series were broadcast between 1999 and 2000) and established Henry - better known for comedy - as a dramatic actor.

Hope and Glory was remarkable in casting a black actor in a mainstream role where race was not a defining feature, nor even of particular note though it could be argued that it was Henry's mainstream appeal, rather than enlightened casting, that was the attraction. Henry plays a leader isolated by his own genius, arrogance and gallows humour, a role he perfected earlier in Chef! (BBC, 1993).

In this first episode, broadcast on BBC1 on 22 June 1999, the charismatic Ian George turns down a well-paid, influential government job to take up the head teacher post at Hope Park Comprehensive, a failing school which even he had recommended for closure. By the end of the episode, battle lines in the staffroom are firmly drawn between George's supporters led by maths teacher Debbie Bryan (Amanda Redman) and jealous deputy headteacher, Phil Jakes (Clive Russell). The series was written by Lucy Gannon, who made her reputation with the highly successful drama Soldier, Soldier (ITV, 1991-97).

Ann Ogidi

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Video Clips
1. Head Teacher's Conference (4:33)
2. Unguided tour (5:31)
Complete episode (48:40)
Henry, Lenny (1958- )