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Series / Grange Hill

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Title card used from 1978 to 1989
This children's Soap Opera ran on The BBC from 1978 to 2008. The series was set in the fictional school of the title in the fictional London borough of Northam, until 2003, when the entire school magically moved to Merseyside. It was eventually discontinued in 2008 after running 30 years.

The original circus-beat theme tune continues to be used as the soundtrack to any appearance by school children or a class room, regardless of the fact that it was used for less than half of the 30-year run.

There was a game adaptation of it for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, which sold poorly because Real Life offered the same gameplay options with vastly better graphics, but is notable for the following Have a Nice Death:

"You see a shifty man in a leather jacket. "Hey, son. Want to buy some of this?" The man offers you a packet of white powder. He is a pusher."

[Player selects "Yes"]

"There is an empty look in his eye as he snatches the money from your hand. His face is pale and drawn; his body thin and unfed. He steals to keep his habit; and makes addicts of children. He is dead, and soon you will be too."

There is a fan site at:

This show contains examples of:

  • Bully Hunter: Tucker had this reputation in the early seasons.
  • The Bus Came Back: Fan favourite of the 90s era of the show, Ray Haynes, returned unexpectedly three years after leaving the school, and consequently stayed on for a further six years as a café owner, having matured from a juvenile delinquent into a Big Brother Mentor to all the current students.
  • Christmas Episode: Two, one in 1981, and one in 1985.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Highly prevalent in the first few series, there were at least a dozen schoolkids that disappeared without trace and were never mentioned again by any of the schoolkids, which included previously major characters such as Tracy Edwards and Penny Lewis, and several teachers came and went without trace too, often replaced with identical personality replacements.
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  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Best friends Dudley Wesker and Josh Davis were both different flavours of this. Ever enthusiastic Dudley enjoyed rummaging around in bins, gleefully keeping a single shoe found in a dustbin for reasons unknown, as well as eating incredibly bizarre food combinations, yet thinking Worcester sauce akin to poison. Josh meanwhile wandered around in a daze, barely expressing any emotion and talking in a monotone voice, and collected war memorabilia, calmly buying a live grenade and not seeing any possible problems with this.
  • Dean Bitterman: Mr Bronson
  • Disturbing Statistic: Martin thoughtlessly mentions that Britain had the highest divorce rate in Europe to a girl whose parents are divorcing, which at the time, was quite a novel and outrageous thing to do.
  • Doomed New Clothes: Freddie Mainwaring insists on wearing fashionable, rather than practical, clothes on a canal boat trip. They don't come through the ordeal very well.
  • Generation Xerox: Peter "Tucker" Jenkin's nephew, Patrick "Togger" Johnson is surprisingly similar to him, having a similar name, having many of the same misadventures, and his classmates even all have a suspiciously similar counterpart in Tucker's own class, to the point where many even have the same initials, e.g. Trisha Yates/Tanya Young, Justin Bennett/Jeremy Bishop, Anne Wilson/Annie Wainwright, etc.
  • Girls vs. Boys Plot: In S4E18, tensions between the sexes come to a head. A boys vs girls contest is planned, with various sporting, practical and academic competitions. Boys just win the quiz (with a suspicion of cheating), but are thrashed at netball, also not without some cheating. Meanwhile, the cake baking of Mr. Sutcliffe leaves a lot to be desired, as does Miss Mooney's metalwork. Their respective assistants though have bought ready-made versions as a backup. Mrs. McClusky declares the contest a draw!
  • The Good Old British Comp: Probably the definitive example.
  • Goshdang It To Heck/Curse Cut Short: "We're the only kids in the country who never say fu..."
  • Heel–Face Turn: Wayne Sutcliffe is a very dramatic example of this. In his first two series he was a terrible bully, who was even involved in gun crime, but suddenly he had a change of heart, and became a bully councillor and generally nice guy.
  • High School Hustler: Luke "Gonch" Gardener, or at least he tried to be one.
  • Hot for Student
  • Long-Runners: And how. Lasted for 31 years, from 1978 to 2008. The only longer-running show on CBBC is Blue Peter.
  • Misplaced Retribution: In one mid-'90s episode, a guy and a girl try to escape from a fire by climbing out of a window. She slips, falls to her death, her boyfriend blames the guy who was with her and spends the rest of the season stalking and harassing him.
  • Parental Abandonment: Raymond Haynes lives with just his brother. A father is mentioned in his first few episodes, but never seen, and this appears to have later been retconned, as in a later series it is a major plot point that there's no-one to come to Kenny Haynes's wedding, as the brothers have no family outside of each other. A mother is never even alluded to, and no explanation is ever given as to where their parents are and how an admitted criminal became the legal guardian of his teenage brother.
  • Pet the Dog: Michael Doyle, in the 1983 Christmas Special, is an example of this, when he helps to fight off the rival school students who are trying to steal a music system and the proceeds from the school disco.
    • Repeated with Nigel and Jimmy at the end of series 7, who having spent the entire season robbing other people of their money, step into save the schools takings at the disco.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Happened a few times, the most obvious example being in Series 3/4. Duane Orpington's best friend in Series 3 was a girl called Tracy Edwards and was seen with her in every episode that featured him. In Series 4, Tracy had vanished and his 'new' best friend was Claire Scott, who was virtually the same character as Tracy personality wise and was treated by everyone as having always been there.
  • Roadside Wave: In the 1990 series, Georgina (who's trying to get into modelling) gets soaked by a passing car on her way to a tryout.
  • Sadist Teacher
    • Mr Bronson, who had very rare Pet the Dog moments.
      • Mr Bronson's actor, Michael Sheard, also played Adolf Hitler in four films (including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and a TV series, Himmler in two films and a mini-series, Goering's double in 'Allo 'Allo!, an Imperial Admiral in The Empire Strikes Back and a villainous headmaster in the classic Doctor Who serial "Remembrance of the Daleks''. He clearly just had one of those faces.
      • In a poll run as part of Comic Relief one year, viewers were asked to nominate someone, out of all the people appearing on BBC Children's TV, to be dropped into a "gunk tank" on Red Nose Day. Mr Bronson swiftly became the top choice. But then he appeared with the link presenter during one of the links between the shows, and sternly warned the nation's children to stop voting for him. And it worked. Or... 
    • An early 2000s storyline had "Mr. Deverill", who was actually an impostor who had already been banned from teaching for his behaviour. He developed a grudge against one of the school's top football players due to accidentally being given inaccurate directions to the school on the first day (the road was closed off for maintenance and he should've gone around instead), and started a vendetta against said boy that led to him being suspended, temporarily expelled, being rejected by the Army (his chosen career path), and very nearly driving him to suicide. And then when he was exposed as a fraud at the end, he started a fire and fled the school right before half of it exploded!
  • Shout-Out: One 1980s storyline has Grange Hill students attending a Model United Nations as Tanzania.
  • Spin-Off: Tucker's Luck followed Tucker Jenkins after he left school. It lasted for three seasons.
    • Given the amount of former Grange Hill cast members who end up on EastEnders...
      • And this includes Tucker himself, AKA Todd Carty.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Grange Hill was the first British soap opera to deal with it.
  • Two-Teacher School: Averted; there's about the same amount of teachers you'd expect in a British secondary school.
  • Very Special Episode: Many, most famously the seminal "Zammo becomes a junkie" storyline, which completely averted Compressed Vice by lasting for months, and led to the cast record "Just Say No!"
  • Vote Early, Vote Often: In one episode, a student helping to tally the votes in a student referendum is introduced to the concept of 'spoiled ballots'. He then proceeds to destroy a large number of ballots in an attempt to grant his favoured option the win. He is found out because his number of spoiled ballots is much higher than with any other teller.
    • Made more hilarious by the fact his actions prove to be in vain anyway as his choice ends up winning regardless.


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