Grange Hill - Subversive and banned from watching - the sad sorry story of my childhood tea times

Are we talking banned naked men? Or porn? Nope.

We are talking about a kids show, shown in the UK for the first time in 1978. I was eleven, and was just a year away from starting what we call in the UK as *Senior school* (Now called Upper School I think). This was the education from 12-16 at that time.

The programme I'm talking about is Grange Hill and it covered many controversial storylines (From Wiki)

"...students throwing benches into the swimming pool (1978), rape (2001), heroin addiction (1986), Asperger syndrome (2001), knife crime (1998) and attempted suicide (2005), prompting many complaints from viewers. Grange Hill broke new ground by the inclusion of a gay teacher, Mr Brisley, who was in the cast from 1992 to 1999...."

Yep. It covered all this as well as bullying, cliques, social issues, rich vs poor...

Grange Hill was a TV show that was something very new. We'd never had anything quite as subversive on children's TV before. Good kids went on to Crackerjack and won prizes (at five to five), well behaved kids had respect for authority and were a little cheeky at school, but were NEVER knowlingly disrespectful or devious, or bullying, or drug taking, or any of the other awful things my dad said were on this show.

Let's just say, Grange Hill was NOT Saved By The Bell, this was edgy and kind of dark at times, and it had so many naughty kids on it, no wonder my dad banned me. (I like to think those were his reasons anyway ROFL).

See, as much as i wanted to, as much as ALL MY FRIENDS WATCHED IT, I wasnt allowed to watch it. Yes, I was the only person in the ENTIRE WORLD that wasnt allowed to watch Grange Hill. (It seemed like that way anyway!) - until I met my husband and found out his dad banned it as well!

Seriously, I felt utterly isolated in my ignorance of what was in this show. And I let my parents know how angry I was to be excluded. A lot...

Of course they didn't listen, but after a while things eased off. I was thirteen, fifteen and I would catch the this subversive, boundary pushing show... Then there was THAT SCENE...

Anyone in the UK who watched it, will recall one scene in a show as a kid. For a lot of UK kids it will be a scene in Grange Hill...

Tucker picking his nose outside the head teacher's office. Tucker doing everything Tucker did, Benny at his side, the Just Say No campaign, that had characters releasing an anti drugs song... so many scenes.

But for me the one scene that I recall Susan Tully's character (Was she called Susan in the show?) turning up after O levels in full makeup and casual clothes and then *GASPS* Leaving school... at sixteen... she LEFT SCHOOL! She was anti authority, cocky, clever and confident (everything I was never going to be at that age!)

So, what has me writing about Grange Hill today. The sad news that the young guy who played Benny (Tucker's sidekick - second from right) has died aged 50.

Really got me thinking about the show, and what I learned from it, and how it shaped my view of education.

Really, a part of my childhood. :(



  1. I think what made Grange Hill stand out is that it was about mostly working class kids and their lives. Any working class people on telly at all was rare enough back when it started, never mind working class children and what their lives involved. And of course that meant the kids watching it could relate. I might have ready plenty of Mallory Towers books when I was a girl (seriously, a lot!) but they were glimpses into another world. Grange Hill was a reflection of my own world. Though being in the North East, the cast of Grange Hill was a lot more racially diverse than the population of my school - so that was good too. Most of the people of colour I "knew" growing up were characters on TV, and Benny was one of them. RIP.

    1. Mallory Towers, Twins of Saint Clares... sighs... the memories...

      And yes, I passed my 12+ and ended up at an all girls grammar school which was a long way from the type of school Grange Hill was... still, some of the issues were the same, like bullying and so on... :)

  2. Enid Blyton is soley responsible for my book addiction...but that's by the by! Grange Hill, the best programme to watch as a kid...I had no idea it went on into this century, wow. It really was a programme designed to make kids/teens think. So much heartache, so many issues raised. It was brilliant. This gang were a little before my time of watching it (mid 80's on) but rip Benny. Xx

    1. I mainlined every single Enid Blyton book at least ten times... ROFL...

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