To celebrate Grange Hill's 30th anniversary, the BBC releases the first four series of Grange Hill
This DVD box set contains the trailblazing series 1 and 2 of this ever-popular BBC teen drama set in the fictional comprehensive of Grange Hill. With its wonderful mix of actors and actresses and entertaining coverage of teen issues, Grange Hill has become an institution. The show is one of the longest running on British television.
Originally broadcast between 1978 and 1981, the original four series revolve around Tucker Jenkins and his motley crew, his rivalry with Benny Green and run-ins with the staff and school bullies. During this time, the show's creator Phil Redmond was also its executive producer before moving on to set up Brookside in 1982. Colin Cant directed the first nine episodes in 1978 and produced series 3 and 4.
Tucker Jenkins? Benny Green? Trisha Yates? If these names mean nothing to you, then youve missed out on a hugely influential part of British childrens television programming. Fortunately, the release of Grange Hill Series 1 & 2
on DVD gives a whole new generation the chance to see where the enduring drama all began.
Set in a fictional London comprehensive school, Grange Hill was, from the off, a gritty and down-to-earth programme, far out of keeping with the childrens shows of the time. Introducing pupils such as those mentioned back at the start (and not for nothing is Tucker regarded as the first hero of the show), they were matched by a now-legendary roster of teachers: who can forget Mr Baxter the PE teacher, for instance?
The secret to Grange Hills success is inherent in these two maiden series. And it was the marrying up of a terrific cast of characters to storylines that felt real, without any attempt to gloss anything up. Plus, while its Tucker and his gang that are at the centre of much of the drama, theres plenty going on in the background too to hold your attention. Nostalgics may be surprised at just how much they remember!
But does it all hold up today? Absolutely. This is Grange Hill arguably at its rawest, and its all the better for it. And while controversial storylines would really push things out in the years to follow, its surprising just how well these early episodes have endured. Whether youre new to Grange Hill or not, this DVD set is a real treasure from the archives, and a long overdue release. --Simon Brew