...right up until the point where I was about to start secondary school. Then it seemed like all I had to look forward to was my head being flushed down toilets, getting beaten up on a regular basis, teenage pregnancy and class A drugs going round like they were going out of fashion. Unfortunately there were no sex and drugs in my school (I don't know what went on in the staff room). Great show from the 80's.
I remember watching the very first episode of Grange Hill, when Tucker Jenkins the-soon-to-be star of the series, went to meet his friend Benny Green before their first day at school. That was in 1978. I soon became hooked on the series, like most of my age group back then, and was grateful that it was shown twice a week, which was-and still is-unusual for TV drama. Through subsequant episodes, we followed the exploits of the many characters who passed through the school's gates. And, we also could relate to the many problems that the characters experienced, as most of us at some time or other, had been subjected to bullying, peer pressure, the problems of divorce, and even drug abuse.
The BBC had to endure the scourge of many complaints from parents and various groups. And they also had the likes of people such as Mary Whitehouse, critisising them for corrupting Britain's youth. I remember that the BBC once screened a special debate programme called Speaking Out, in which actors from the series, and real pupils and teachers from schools discussed the issues sometimes covered in Grange Hill. At the time, there was a major fuss because a female character in the series, played by Paula Ann Bland, wanted to go on the pill. Shock Horror!!
Well, it was a primative time 1982 y'know.
I regard the classic period of Grange Hill to be somewhere between 1979 to 1989.
Well at least I thought it was when it first aired on our screens back in 1978, I was a kid myself then. This drama was cutting edge stuff for kids who had to make do with cartoons & safe period dramas adapted from children's novels on TV. Critics were quick to slam this portrayal of contemporary high school life (it dealt with issues such as bullying) which hit the spot with most of it's target audience. Looking back the show seems somewhat patronising with it's pupil anarchist stories (anti uniform protestors & the campaign to re-instate Mr McGuffy) & token bully Gripper Stebson (in reality most schools would have at least a few dozen of his type) who ran a one man race hate campaign. Recently seen the relocated episodes, it's comes across as being lightweight but the characters seem convincing given some of the storylines. Good stuff.
What can I say - apart from the fact that this show is briiliant?
Where to begin...Grange Hill has always been far ahead of its' time, using storylines that no other kids' drama of the age would ever dare to use, for fear that they would be shut down. Time and again over the last 3 decades Graneg Hill has been slammed by Watchers' Associations for being a bad influence on children - especially of secondary school age or not much younger - and yet this is always because of the fact that it was dealing with issues that actually arise in modern secondary comprehensives in a way that those children can understand.
A work of genius - may it continue for many more years to come!
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