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Grange Hill (1978-2008)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Grange Hill (1978-2008)
26 series of 25 min episodes
Created byPhil Redmond
Script EditorsAnthony Minghella
 Leigh Jackson
 Norma Flint

Cast: Todd Carty (Tucker Jenkins); Terry Sue Patt (Benny Green); Robert Morgan (Justin Bennett); Michelle Herbert (Trisha Yates); Abigail Brown (Judy Preston); Lucinda Duckett (Ann Wilson)

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Life in an inner-city comprehensive school as the pupils adapt to secondary education.

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When Grange Hill first aired on 8 February 1978, the BBC1 drama broke the mould for children's television with its realistic portrayal of school life and often working-class pupils. In addition, the camera was brought down to the eye-level of an 11-year-old so that the perspective was that of the pupils as opposed to that of the teachers. The formula proved to be an instant hit with its young viewers, reaching its peak in the mid-1980s with a series of groundbreaking storylines.

The first episode introduced Peter 'Tucker' Jenkins (Todd Carty), Trisha Yates (Michelle Herbert) and Benny Green (Terry Sue Patt) as they started their first day at school at Grange Hill High School. Early storylines covered bullying, playground hi-jinks, uniform rebellion and school dinner protests. Recurring themes included Tucker's talent for finding himself at the centre of trouble, and the trials of Benny, gifted at football but forever clashing with authority over his dress- his family were unable to afford the cost of the school uniform. With the introduction of Norman 'Gripper' Stebson (Mark Savage) in 1981, the series found a vicious bully who terrorised the school and provided some edgier storylines.

Grange Hill hasn't been afraid to tackle serious issues. and over the years has covered truanting, shoplifting, child abuse, racism, suicide, playground knifings, sex, teenage pregnancy, and drugs. In 1986, the series hit the headlines with its story of Samuel 'Zammo' McGuire's (Lee MacDonald) heroin addiction. The story resulted in the release of a cast single, Just Say No, and a national anti-drugs campaign. Although its storylines deal realistically with social issues and their effects on children, they are often counterbalanced with humour, like the efforts of Luke 'Gonch' Gardner's (John Holmes) to discover whether the teacher, Mr Bronson (Michael Sheard), wore a toupée.

A spin-off series, Tucker's Luck (BBC, 1983-85) followed Tucker and two of his old Grange Hill friends as they struggled with life after school. Several Grange Hill actors, including Todd Carty, Susan Tully, Letitia Dean, Michelle Gayle and Sean Maguire have since graduated to EastEnders (BBC, 1985-).

Grange Hill creator Phil Redmond scripted the early episodes, before moving on to Brookside (Channel 4, 1982-) and later Hollyoaks (Channel 4, 1995-). In 2003, to mark the show's 25th anniversary, Redmond returns to the helm as the production transfers to Liverpool.

Jon Lysons

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Video Clips
The first episode (20:46)
Production stills
Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School (1952-61)
Byker Grove (1989-2006)
Tucker's Luck (1983-85)
Whack-O! (1956-60, 1971-72)
Minghella, Anthony (1954-2008)
Redmond, Phil (1949-)
Children's TV Drama
Children's TV in the 1970s