OMG! If there was ever a must watch television programme for me then this was it.
Grange Hill started in 1979 when I was still a couple of years away from Secondary school. It was the ultimate in cool at the time, I don’t think that there can be much debate on that. I remember that me mum tolerated it, although if he was ever at home at the time it was on – very rarely – the old chap would insist that the TV went off.
The first icons delivered by Grange Hill were of course Peter ‘Tucker’ Jenkins and his gang, Benny (Green) and Alan (Humphries). Then there was Mrs ‘Ma’ McCluskey and Bullet Baxter, not to mention Trisha Yates and Cathy Hargreaves. And these were just the first lot!
I guess that the Grange Hill characters with whom I most closely identified were the likes of ‘Zammo’ McGuire, Ziggy Greaves and ‘Jonah’ Jones. Later, I was quite into the Luke ‘Gonch’ Gardner gang too. Of course I will never forget the ‘Gripper’ Stebson and Roland Browning axis, Gripper, proving that Ben Elton in The Young Ones was right, ‘Oh, come on, sir. We’re the only kids in Britain who never say ffffffffff…’ And who can ever forget, ‘Danny Kendall… dead!’
For me, the secret of Grange Hill was the seamless introduction of new faces. As evidenced by the list of my favourite characters, they didn’t all appear together, but the are all but indistinguishable in terms of their era. Phil Redmond, Grange Hill’s creator, could devise a hundred more television series but he’ll never come up with anything quite like Grange Hill.
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