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Nostalgic TV Quiz-show: It’s Catchphrase (remember … say what you see)



Nostalgic Sunday

THERE was something special about Sundays. A typical Sunday would begin with a lie-in followed by a cooked breakfast. The weighty Sunday newspaper would be read at a leisurely pace. A Sunday roast would be gobbled down in the afternoon followed by the snooze on the sofa.  Evening entertainment on television usually hammered-home the fact that the weekend was almost over and it’s back to school or work in the morning (think of the theme tune to ‘Highway’ presented by Harry Seycombe). They were a few TV programmes that made us forget about the dreaded Monday and grasped our undivided attention – the first one that comes to mind is Bullseye and the other is Catchphrase.


Catchphrase – the concept

Easy – a picture with Mr Chips doing a action would appear on the screen – the  contestants would have to guess the correct catchphrase of the action. Can you guess this one?



Roy Walker – the original and best

Roy was the original host of Catchphrase – with his funny, friendly warm Irish tones and magical connection with the contestants and audience meant he became a household name. Think Roy Walker … think Catchphrase. Think Catchphrase … think Roy Walker. Catchphrase without Roy Walker is like going to a chip shop, asking for fish and chips and being told ‘we only only sell fish’ – strange!


Challenge TV – the saviour of nostalgic quiz-shows

With the huge variety of TV stations available I always end up selecting Challenge. I wonder how many, like me, are addicted to the likes of Bullseye and Catchphrase? No shame in admitting that you are – it just shows that you love the slap-you-in-the-face attributes (the one-liners, 80s fashion and 80s prizes) that they bring … you’re a bit of a nostalgic geek!


What were your favourite Sunday evening TV programmes?

What was your most annoying?

As usual let us know.

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Enjoyed the blog? A nostalgic collection of blogs featuring a fun and factual look back at British advertising, leisure and entertainment from the yester-years are featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Release date November 2018.

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School’s out for Summer – playing out



THE school summer holidays are here! It’s a joyful time for loads of kids – ditching the school uniform and classroom for six whole weeks. For parents it can be a bit mixed –  quality family time or six weeks of torture and frustration! Keeping the kids occupied can be a bit of a challenge.

80s style summer holidays

The huge chunk of the summer holidays were spent playing outside – it was common for a friend to knock on the front door and ask if you were ‘playing out’. Below are a few playing out activities that kept the kids occupied for hours and provided breathing space for parents.




Get your bike out, call for your mates and cycle the pavements in a pack for hours. Who could do the best trick on their bike? Who could do the longest wheelie?  Whether you had a BMX, Chopper, Grifter or Boxer, the days would be fun and time would whizz by.

Danger level: Low to medium – danger to crashing into a pedestrian or a stunt going horribly wrong.



Roller skates


Get your skates on and skate up and down the pavement. Can you build a miniature obstacle course (pieces of stick and a few stones) then twist and swivel your way around them?

Danger level: Low to medium – expect a few scuffed knees and elbows and ensure the medical cabinet at home is stocked with elastoplasts.


Knock-down ginger


How to play:

  1. Approach someones front door (Ideally someone you don’t know)
  2. Ring the bell or knock on the door
  3. Run like mad to a safe place – ideally to a place where you can see the occupant but they can’t see you!
  4. Watch as the occupant opens the door, looks around whilst looking bewildered, then heads back indoors.
  5. If you’re brave enough, repeat the process.

Danger level: Medium to high – expect to be dragged home to your parents if caught by a swift occupant!



Types of marbles


Find a decent sized manhole cover and challenge you mates to a game of marbles. Make sure the rules are clear from the onset and get rolling! After a few hours, are you able to walk away with pockets bulging after a successful session?

Danger level: pretty low but could send a passer-by flying if they accidentally stood on a stray marble.


In a nutshell …

Laughs and fun  – cuts and bruises – telling offs and punishment – all part of playing out during the summer holidays back in the day.


Any other games on the street you fondly remember? Let us know.


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retrohen: read – remember – reminisce – share

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Off my trolley? The shopping trolley is back!

THE highlight of last week was a trip to Poundland. Keeping in line with my rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, this week I did a bit of online shopping. It took place at approx. 18:22 hours on Sunday. I was excited about my purchase and excited about selecting the click and collect option.  I collected it on Monday morning and it’s now stored in the cupboard under the stairs. I’d talked about making this purchase for months – decision finally made and now I’m the proud owner of a two-wheeled shopping trolley.




Back in time for shopping

Back in the 70s and 80s, my mum would use her shopping trolley every Friday. The first stop was the greengrocers – then onto the various smaller shops and the butchers was the final stop before heading home. The majority of the shopping went into the trolley. I do realise that this brief piece of history brings-forth visions of elderly people but allow me to add some justification to my recent purchase …

It really makes sense 

I live in a vibrant town. The town centre is a two-minute walk from my home. Once in the centre, there are a number of independent coffee shops, a music shop, bookshop, bars and restaurants as well as the usual suspects (Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Iceland and Quality Save). My shopping trip is always on foot and Saturday’s has turned into a Yo-Yo session when it comes to shopping. Just like my mother (and more common these days) I tend to buy things from a number of shops. After buying the necessities (milk, orange juice, canned goods) from the first couple of shops, the weight of carrier bags starts cutting off the blood supply to my fingers – it’s back home to drop off the weighty bags then back out to the shops again – a process that sometimes repeated up to four times! The shopping trolley will put an end to this – I’m looking forward to ‘one-shot’ shopping trips with healthy blood supply to my fingers!


Best behaviour

Even though there’s a big posh shopping centre 20 minutes away, I’m happy to shop local.  I love the atmosphere in the record shop (Music for the Soul), I love going into Darbys Coffee and lounge shop to switch-off and gobble down a bit of cake. Recently I’ve realised that I’ve got be be on my best behaviour around town – once in a blue-moon I’m approached by a local who cautiously asks ‘Are you an author?’ Instead of replying with ‘Of course I bloody-well am – you shouldn’t have to ask!’ (a reply that could really catapult my popularity to diva-like status!), I smile and reply with ‘Yes I am – how are you today?’ Going forward, the question of whether or not I’m an author will not be required – the chap pulling the check-patterned shopping trolley is indeed an author.


Anyone else using a shopping trolley? Any of the above designs takes your fancy? Let us know as usual. 

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The introduction to 80s comedy ‘The Kit Curran radio show’ gives us a nostalgic look back at shopping precincts, trolleys and 80s graffiti – here’s the link to the video The Kit Curran Radio Show


Enjoyed the blog? A nostalgic collection of blogs featuring a fun and factual look back at British advertising, leisure and entertainment from the yester-years are featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Release date November 2018.

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Staying power: Wagon Wheels, Fray Bentos pies and Quality Street

LAST weeks blog was about drinks and munchies from yester-years – Opal Fruits, Marathon and 5-4-3-2-1 were mentioned. Whilst Opal Fruits and Marathon are still alive and kicking under different names, the same can’t be said of 5-4-3-2-1.

I had a fruitful trip to Poundland this week  …  Nivea mens shower gel, 30 brown envelopes and Neutradol air freshener – all three for three quid (may sound obvious but not everything in Poundland is one quid as you’ll find out later in this blog).

There were a few items, that were once heavily advertised on television, that has held onto their original name and are still being churned out – items that have seem to be held down with Super Glue 3 and show no signs of shifting. Here goes …


Wagon Wheels


wagon wheel
Wagon Wheels from yester-years

And here the debate begins. I’ve heard numerous stories that over the years the size of wagon wheels have shrunk more than a jumper that’s gone through a hot wash. Stories of wagon wheels once being so huge that jaws would seize-up halfway through chomping were not uncommon. The once jaw-jamming wheels are still around at the bargain price of £1.

2018 Wagon Wheels




Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney pies




The strapline used in advertising was ‘No lumps, fat or gristle … guaranteed!’ Once regularly advertised on television this was a time-saver for many not wanting to faff around rolling puff pastry or chopping up beef and kidney.  I’ve not eaten one of these in years but that’s about to change this weekend – I’ll let you know if it’s still fat and gristle-free next weekend. The price … £1.


2018 Steak & Kidney pie




Quality Street


Quality street
Back in the day – Quality Street in a metal tin


We began on a controversial note so we’ll finish on one. They didn’t have a tin or plastic box of Quality Street in Poundland, but they did have a triangular-shaped box selling for not £1 but £2! A big metal tin of Quality Street was a common feature on living room tables over the Christmas period – it would last for ages! The soft-centred ones were commonly gobbled-down first and the harder ones left to rattle around in the tin. Today, Quality Street are less likely to be in a metal tin. Have Quality Street had the shrunken jumper treatment? All facts, figures and measurements will be gladly received so let us know.





Three products with staying power – money for television advertising seems to have dried-up but they are still with us. The odd nip and tuck plastic surgery and internal organ transplant means they’ll most likely outlast many of us!


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Missed last weeks’ blog? Check it out here: Thirst-busters and munchies from yesterday-years

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Thirst-busters and munchies from yesterday-years

BACK in the day, one of my favourite drinks was Cocopina – a coconut and pineapple flavoured fizzy drink with a bright toxic colour, packed with sugar, artificial colours and flavourings … it tasted great! I also enjoyed chomping on a marathon bar to stave off hunger whilst out cycling on my cheap version of the Raleigh Grifter. Those were the days when a friend knocked on the front door and asked if I was ‘playing out’. Below are a few drinkies and munchies you may remember from those playing out days …





In a nutshell: Mixed fruit soft drink with high tech advertising.

Strapline: ‘It’s a miracle but we’ve made it’.

Decade: Short lived – only a few years during the 80s.



The Corona drinks range

Corona 2

In a nutshell: Not the Mexican lager drunk with a wedge of lime but a range of popular soft drinks. Many of the drinks were sold in glass bottles. Popular flavours were Cherryade, Limeade, Cream Soda and Orangeade.

Strapline: ‘Every bubble’s passed its fizzical.’

Decade: Began in the 1880s and was popular thought the 60s, 70s and 80s. Sadly no longer with us.





In a nutshell: Hugely popular chocolate bar packed with peanuts. Now called Snickers but many people still called them Marathon.

Strapline: ‘Comes up peanuts slice after slice’.

Decade: 30s through to the 90s.


Opal Fruits

opal fruits

In a nutshell: Soft chewy sweets now called Starburst. Flavours were Lemon, Orange, Lime and Strawberry.

Strapline: ‘Made to make your mouth water’.

Decade: 60s through to the 90s





In a nutshell: Gosh I seriously miss this bar! Made-up of five parts – milk chocolate, light crispy rice, caramel, fondant and wafer.

Strapline: ‘5 bars – 5 treats’.

Decade: Like Quatro, short lived – 80s.



Any other favourites? Let us know.


Check out  the YouTube ads here:




Open Fruits




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The Rubik’s Cube remembered

Rubik's cube 2


I’M not the sharpest tool in the box. What little sharpness I have is disappearing faster than a greyhound out the traps. To put things into context, I recently struggled to change chain on my bike even though I’ve changed bike chains a number of times over the years. After accidently smashing a chain connector tool and spending a number of hours trying to link the chain together, I eventually managed to fit it. I was proud of my achievement but my sense of achievement nose-dived when I put the bike to the test during a Saturday morning ride – where was that loud rubbing sound coming from?  I decided to bring the bike to experts at the local bike shop. The diagnosis was swift – I’d fed the chain through the wrong loops! ‘Schoolboy error’ was the comment from the smiling bike mechanic.


My lack of sharpness showed its embarrassing face during the 80s when it seemed like almost everyone was doing the Rubik’s Cube. I watched some of the guys at school twist, study and twist again before shouting  ‘Done it!’ or ‘Skill’ when all the colours matched-up on each side. The Rubik’s Cube craze was massive – homes, schools, public transport, workplaces – that unmistakable twisting of the cube sound was everywhere – the Rubik’s Cube gripped the nation!


In an attempt to join the clever crew (who were able to complete the whole cube), I began practicing at home. After twisting, studying and twisting again, my greatest achievement was completing one side of the cryptic cube. I began hating everything to do with the Rubik’s Cube – the clever people who’d effortlessly complete the whole cube, a completed cube innocently sitting on a desk (I saw this as a sign of boasting) and even the company who’d developed the cryptic cube – I hated them all! The 3×3 cube was one of the earliest benchmark highlighting my need for sharpening-up.

The Rubik’s cube proved to be too easy for many so the makers decided to develop the Rubik’s Revenge – the 4×4 version. It comes as no surprise that I didn’t even attempt this!


Rubik's revenge



These days I love the look of the Rubik’s Cube – I love the nostalgic memories and the decoration it provides when sitting on a coffee table or mantelpiece. I’m considering buying one – it will be a decorative feature (to go with the typewriter and 70s cassette player) – I’m sure I’ll have the urge to twist, study and twist again – and cement my position as a blunt tool at the bottom of the toolbox!


Missed last weeks post? Catch it here: Nostalgic lagers, world cup football, VAR and personality types







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Nostalgic lagers, world cup football, VAR and personality types

WITH scotching temperatures and the football world cup, thousands of people keep cool by gulping down gallons of cold lager whilst screaming for a VAR check (for the non-followers of the world cup, VAR stands for Video Assistant Referee – use of video technology to supposedly make correct decisions).

Rewind to the 1982 football world cup when the likes of Shilton, Robson and Keegan were playing for England – lagers like Long Life and Skol ruled inside pubs and living rooms. Memories of gulping down one of these nostalgic lagers may fill us with delight or displeasure. Below we look at five nostalgic lagers and analyse the personalities of the drinkers.





Description: ‘Need to get away and relax’ lager.

Strapline: ‘Stay sharp to the bottom of the glass’.

Personality type: hates long term commitment, takes each day as it comes, introvert tendencies.

Reaction to incorrect VAR decision: Too much excitementcrawls into a corner and refuses to watch the rest of the game.



Long Life



Description: The’Steady Eddie’ beer

Strapline: ‘Specially brewed for the can’

Personality type: marriage material, sound judgement, keeps their garden lawn in tip-top condition and has a pension pot that’s not too shabby.

Reaction to incorrect VAR decision: Controlled and detailed – spends  an hour getting their point across to the neighbour on the other side of the garden fence.






Description: Lighthearted, fun, down the earth middle of the road lager

Strapline: ‘Horribly good lager’ and ‘You’re a Skolar’

Personality type: marriage material with lots of fun. Chilled out, funny, stand-up comedian.

Reaction to incorrect VAR decision: Finds the whole scenario hilarious – piss themselves laughing – reels off a number one-liners before gulping down another pint or two.





Description: Lager with a touch of class.

Straplines: ‘Pure Draughtmanship’ and ‘It’s a different world’

Personality typeattention to detail –  hosts of the most charming dinner parties.

Reaction to incorrect VAR decision: Details, facts, don’t let it happen againsends a 10-page document to the footballing governing body, FIFA, containing analytics highlighting their mistakes.


Special Brew



Description: Lager with a knockout punch.

Strapline: ‘The only thing better than a Carlsberg Special Brew is another Carlsberg Special Brew’

Personality typeHard as concrete and confident. Can sometimes come across as emotionless and blunt.

Reaction to incorrect VAR decision: Emotions out of controlno messing – smashes the TV with a hammer – punches anyone in sight – keen to find out where the referee lives.


The likes of Peroni, Stella and Fosters are most likely to be drunk during the 2018 world cup – enjoy drinking responsibly whilst fiercely debating VAR decisions – hopefully the supplies of carbon dioxide won’t get to critical levels and our lagers won’t be as flat as a trampled footballer in the penalty box!

Let us know your memories of these lagers, VAR and how we’d get round the carbon dioxide situation.

Secret lemonade drinker? Try R Whites Lemonade here: A short story of addiction – R Whites Lemonade


Want to keep up to date with the shenanigans at retrohen? Find us on Facebook and Twitter – just type in ‘Nostalgic Geeks’.


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Ready Brek – central heating for kids

IT’S wet, cold and dark when you send your kids off to school. Your kids beg for a lift in the car but you refuse and watch them trudge out the door into darkness. Your poor kids arrive at school shivering and sneezing. It takes them all morning to defrost and once the school day is over, they dash home to jump in a spot by the radiator. You look at your kids warming themselves by the radiator. A look of sadness, disappointment and despair on their faces. You keep looking at them and they stare back at you. You can see it in their eyes  – ‘It’s your fault we’ve been trying to get warm all day … It’s your fault we’re sneezing! You sent us out unprotected into arctic conditions without protection!’ You sheepishly walk away and hide in another room.

The verdict is conclusive …  you’re guilty of sending your kids out into the cold without adequate protection. Guilty of selfishness and neglect. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!


Ready Brek


Well this does not need to be the case. Avoid getting yourself into a position where your kids slam down the imaginary hammer and declare you guilty. Make sure they head out with adequate protection – protection that will put a glow on em – protection that will glow in the morning darkness. Get your kids fuelled up with bowl of Ready Brek!


Ready Brek 2



Once the hot oat cereal is gobbled up, your kids will head out the door with a spring in their step. They will display a visual glow of warmth and have no chilly bones, sneezing or shivering.  They will arrive at school warm and ready to go! Whilst the non-Ready Brekkers are defrosting whilst sat at their desks, the Ready Brekkers are in full flow absorbing every detail being taught as their pens go into overdrive. These kids are on fire and are still displaying the visual glow as they crack on through the morning session. The teachers know the pupils who’ve had a hot bowl of Ready Brek – apart from the visual glow, they notice that these pupils are alert, have blood flowing to their cheeks and  their facial expressions are free moving (not locked in one position).


Ready brek 3



At the end of your working day you return home to happy, content, frost-free kids. Home has a happy vibe to it with no hostility. There’s no one hogging the spot by the radiator as you stroll around free from guilt. You’ll be chuffed that you fed your kids Ready Brek in the morning and you feel like a responsible parent once again. You watch your kids laughing, enjoying themselves, dashing around the house as if it’s the start of the Summer holidays. Ready  Brek really is Central Heating for Kids. You’ve discovered the secret to guilt free parenthood and never again will you be dragged through the imaginary courtroom.


Enjoyed the blog? A nostalgic collection of blogs featuring a fun and factual look back at British advertising, leisure and entertainment from the yester-years are featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Release date November 2018.

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Nostalgic note cards – spreading happiness through the letterbox

THE way we communicate with each other has changed. The days of  pigeon post has gone. Sitting down and writing a letter is slowly disappearing. FaceTime, text messages and Skype have encouraged us to ditch the pen and paper.


We now prefer to bash out an email instead of writing a letter – it’s quicker and no dashing to the post office for a stamp! Our email accounts get packed with stuff we ignore (with a bit of spam sneaking in). The types of post we get shoved through our letterboxes are takeaway leaflets, leaflets from estate agents and the dreaded bills that land of the hallway floor with a thud – not much fun coming through our letterboxes.

How about sending some fun and happiness through someones letterbox? Ditch the emails and text messages and show that you’ve been thinking of them. Show them that they’re worth much more than a 30 second text message riddled with predictive text errors. Pick up your pen and send the gift of nostalgia to someone today with one of our ‘Living in the Past’ themed note cards.

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Design 1 straplineJust a suggestion … there’s ample cash under the mattress for a modern television.

Yes some people did keep their hard earned cash under the mattress! Keeping cash under the mattress ensured instant, easy access. With saving interest rates scraping the barrel, the mattress maybe a good alternative (just make sure the home security is top-notch).

The four-buttoned TV that weighed a ton! BBC1, BBC2 and ITV were the only available channels back in the day.

Luckily banks are a pretty safe bet for our money these days (even if the interest rates are dire) and we have the luxury of sleek flat screen TV’s – no need for Fort Knox style home security or manually tuning in TV stations!

Suggestion for kicking off your note: ‘Do you remember the one we had? Thanks for the gift’.

Design 2 strapline: Is taping top 40 songs off the radio even legal these days?

Sunday evenings was a time when we’d listen to the top 40 and simultaneously hit the play and record button on the cassette player. We’d then have our favourite tunes recorded on a C60 or C90. You’d be labeled a thief if you did this today. Recording off the radio is considered ‘fair use’ so grab those tapes and get taping!

Suggestion for kicking off your note: ‘Cheers for the tunes and beer mate – I know you still have a few tapes knocking around …’

Design 3 strapline: I’m not fibbing – on my car I can adjust the wing mirror without winding down the window!

Years ago, wing mirrors had to adjusted manually – we’d wind down the window, twist and pull until we achieved the optimum angle. It was a tad annoying having to this whilst the rain pelted down and soaked your arm! Luckily, with modern cars, wing mirrors can be adjusted from the inside – yippee!

Suggestion for kicking off your note: ‘I think this will jog your memory … our first family car!’.

Design 4 strapline: Yes indeed … a front-loading machine also spins clothes!

The good old twin-tub washing machine. The washer occupied one side of the machine whilst the spinner occupied the other. Manually lift the clothes out of the washer into the spinner (using wooden tongs). The whole process of using one of these twin-tubs would sometimes have us sweating like a marathon runner. Luckily the modern front-loading washing machines washes and spins in one drum. The result … sweat-free washdays!

Suggestion for kicking off your note: ‘I’m glad we don’t have to use these anymore! We enjoyed our stay and being free from the usual household chores’.

Design 5 strapline:  Just saying … an electric kettle also boils water to 100 degrees centigrade!

The whistling kettle still has a place in some kitchens around the country. Hearing the whilstling kettle, dashing into the steam engulfed kitchen and turning off the gas burner was usual practice many years ago – we knew the water was well and truly boiled! Today the electric kettle is more likely to be seen in our kitchens – it boils water without whistling … and no sprinting needed to rescue it from the hob!

Suggestion for kicking off your note: ‘Thanks for the coffee – looking forward to catching up soon …’

Buy your Living in the Past  note cards  using the links below (the links will not take you to any dodgy sites … you’ll stay on the current retrohen site so don’t panic) 

Nostalgic box of 5 cards in nostalgic green here: Living in the Past greeting cards – Box of 5

Nostalgic box of 12 cards in nostalgic turquoise here: Living in the Past Greeting cards – 12 boxed cards

A bit more info

5 x A6 sized boxed cards (one of each design) in nostalgic green.

12 x A6 sized boxed cards (3 x design 2,3,4 and 5) in nostalgic turquoise

The cards are blank inside for your own nostalgic/retro greeting or message.

Update:  We’ve shifted out of the yester-years and can  now ship to customers worldwide! 

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Grange Hill: Here come the girls


As Grange Hill celebrates 40 years since first being broadcast, memories of our favourite characters come flooding back. Many hardcore GH fans loved the recent Pointless celebrities special that featured some of the cast members (Todd Carty, Alison Bettles, Paula Ann Bland, Lee MacDonald, Erkan Mustafa, Michelle Gayle, Francesca Martinez and Stuart Organ). Even though the gates of GH have been closed since 2008, the characters, a memorable theme tune and that sausage on a fork is still deeply rooted in our memory bank.



There were so many memorable females that appeared in GH – here are a few whom are fondly remembered:

1. Trish Yates. Let’s face it, you won’t see Trish with a smile on her face – chances are that you’ll hear her rebuking Tucker. Trish will stand up for herself and she’ll stand up for you when you’re on her side. Troops and allies are what you need to survive at Grange Hill. With her rapid fire verbal defence, you’ll have an ally in Trish Yates.




2. Imelda Davis. I say avoid but it really depends on the career path you want to take. If survival to you means getting good O Level grades, being the teachers pet whilst being a goodie goodie, then avoid Imelda! If you plan to leave Grange Hill with a reputation of dishing out slaps, punches and kicks and pursue a career in the underworld, then Imelda is your girl. Remember … if you make your bed, you must lie in it!




3. Mrs McClusky. She may come across as the soft headteacher but tread with caution. If you get dragged to her office and think you’ll be able to explain the reasons for your wrongdoings, think again! Mrs McClusky will give you that look  – ‘Really? … Yeah right … You’re a liar!’ If you don’t want to spend the majority of the term in detention, then best avoid being marched to McClusky’s office.




4. Janet. She has a caring heart. Janet is persistent – she’s always trying to help outcast Roland. ‘Ro Land … Ro Land … Ro Land …’. Even though Roland has told her to get lost and leave him alone on many occasions, Janet just won’t give up. She’s a good egg who won’t crack after multiple rejections.




5. So many good lookers! A sure way to get  noticed was to spend time with one of the good lookers. Fay Lucas, Clare Scott, Rachel Burns, Fiona Wilson, Cally Donnington, Annette Firman … the list could go on and on.



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Enjoyed the blog? A nostalgic collection of blogs featuring a fun and factual look back at British advertising, leisure and entertainment from the yester-years are featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Release date November 2018.


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