‘I was banned from watching that!’ was her reply. It’s a reply I’ve heard about a dozen times during my lifetime. I was free to watch it. I couldn’t wait until the next episode. Tuesday evenings were when I got my weekly Grange Hill fix.
The fictional school had all sort of characters – funny pupils, the bully, pupils with issues at home, issues with drugs (remember the ‘just say no’ campaign?), violence, horrible teachers, honest teachers – the list could go on. I will summarise by saying that Grange Hill contained 3 categories – the Good, Bad and Ugly.
The cheeky smile of Tucker is fondly remembered. Tucker was such a popular character at GH that the spin-off, Tuckers Luck, was created. Gripper Stebson was the teenage crime-lord who’d hand out regular beatings. Zammo was a likeable guy who got sidetracked by drugs. A right mix of characters but all very real and all probably very relatable
I can understand why many parents would ensure that BBC1, on Tuesday evenings, between 5 and 6, was out of bounds. Do not touch, do no inhale, do not consume! The GH curse may come upon you and you’ll turn into one of them! A little yeast works it’s way through the entire dough!
I’m happy I was allowed to watch GH. I was a level-headed, middle of the road type of guy at school. I didn’t want to be like Tucker (even though I thought he was cool). I never considered becoming a carbon copy of Gripper Stebson (boosting the pocket money would have been handy, but I did have a conscience). As for drugs, they were not prominent at the school I attended, but I do remember some guys dosing their shirt-cuffs with Tipp-Ex solvent and inhaling deeply through their mouths, resulting in their eyes rolling like marbles. Luckily GH was enjoyable entertainment for me.
It was about this time two years ago that a re-run of GH was shown on television. It was the episode that Zammo was found slumped in the loo having overdosed. Looking back, GH certainly tackled real life issues. The more I thought about the characters in GH, they really reflect people in real life – the comedians, the bullies, the ones that keep their heads down and show complete dedication, people that have been derailed etc.
The gates of GH are now shut. It has disappeared from the television school selection list (Ackely Bridge and Waterloo Road could be suitable alternatives). GH still has a sizable fan base (me included) – there are numerous groups on social media. No surprise that there is a blog about the characters in my book ‘The Great British Blog Book for Nostalgic Geeks’. The theme tune still brings a smile to faces followed by mentions of favourite characters and memories of teenage crushes (I had many but Calley Donnington tops the list). Will the gates of GH ever be opened again? Who knows? If it does I’ll be one of the first legging it through the gates to take ownership of a desk at the back of the classroom. My position at the back will enable me to launch paper bullets using my shatterproof ruler as a launch pad. I think that would put me in the ‘bad’ category – a category where I’d like to reside for the entire term.