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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.

This show contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: When not in school, scenes of pupils wandering off away from anybody else are often in building sites, or run-down houses.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • In the 1984 series, Annette reveals that her mother caused the bruises on her arm. She has been suffering the pain from her divorce, and often takes her anger out on her daughter, buying her expensive gifts to make up for it. It also explains why Annette herself has been something of an Alpha Bitch for three years.
    • In the 1988 series, Matthew suffers this treatment when he stays with his alcoholic father, who is separated from his mother.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The headmaster Mr Llewellyn, to the anti-uniform pressure group:
    "I don't want any more disturbances, disruptions, or so-called demonstrations."
  • An Aesop: Being mischievous and a prankster is one thing, but wasting the opportunities education gives you is another. Tucker delivers this lesson to his nephew, because he regrets leaving school at seventeen and doesn't want Patrick to make the same mistake he did. That being said, he's definitely proud of all the trouble Patrick's caused.
  • Anti-School Uniforms Plot: This happens in the second series, with an anti-uniform pressure group causing trouble in the school, forcing pupils to boycott sports matches, Waving Signs Around, and finally occupying the secretary's office.
  • Apple for Teacher: Played with when Trisha Yates tries to teach her fellow pupil Simon Shaw to read. She quips that as his teacher, he has to call her Miss Yates, and bring an apple for her.
  • Asleep in Class: A boy in the 1979 series regularly fell asleep in class, as his restaurateur father made him work late into the night.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In the 1979 series, episode 8 is about a "prowler" following girls home from school. When Cathy and Trisha walk home, a man is seen in the background following them, who has been seen throughout the episode; this man then runs after Cathy. He turns out not to be the prowler, but Cathy's estranged father, wanting to reunite with her. The true prowler is caught, but never seen.
  • Broomstick Quarterstaff: In the 1979 series, the caretaker Mr Garfield catches Cathy, Madelin, Jackie and Brenda smoking behind the bike sheds. When they run off, Mr Garfield and his colleague block the girls' path with a broom.
  • The Bully: There were many bullies in Grange Hill, the most feared being Gripper Stebson. He was so notorious that his actor Mark Savage received death threats.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Conspicuous in the Crowd: when Mr Keating is addressing the school about bicycle thefts, the camera pans over the pupils' faces, most of whom are looking attentively up at Mr Keating. One of the perpetrators, Madelin Tanner, tries to look away casually.
  • Copycat Mockery:
    • Often employed by the Deadpan Snarker Mr Baxter, the sports teacher.
      Mr Baxter: Jenkins, do my senses deceive me, or are you up to no good?
      Jenkins: No sir.
      Mr Baxter: No sir. Now then, today I have a treat for you: today we're going to play rugby football.
      (Cries of "oh no!" from the pupils)
      Mr Baxter: Oh yes. And we're going to enjoy it, aren't we, Jenkins?
      Jenkins: Yes sir.
      Mr Baxter: Yes sir.
    • In series 2, the leader of the anti-uniform group mimics the headmaster, out of his hearing, after he has said "One thing you have yet to learn about me, Jessica Samuels, is that I stick to my decisions."
  • Corporal Punishment: In the early series, corporal punishment is often mentioned "If I have any nonsense from you, you won't be able to sit anywhere"; and in the first series, one episode ended with Tucker and Benny being called into the head's office to take their punishment. In a later series, there was a very brief scene in which Cathy Hargreaves was seen being caned by Mrs McClusky.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mr Baxter, the sports teacher.
    Before you hop it, mop it. Got it?
    You've got a sore shoulder? You know, that's the saddest thing I ever heard.
  • Dean Bitterman: Mr Bronson.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The pupils (especially the boys) are delighted to learn that there will be a naked model at the after-school art class - but they had not expected the model to be an elderly man.
  • Disappeared Dad: Cathy Hargreaves had never known her father, and believed him to be dead. Trouble ensues when he suddenly turns up, wanting to see Cathy and her brother Gary.
    Gary (to their mother) You didn't have to tell us he was dead, did you?
    Mrs Hargreaves: I didn't know, did I? He might have been, for all I knew. I didn't want to raise your hopes.
  • 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.
  • Eating Pet Food: Trisha Yates asks Simon Shaw how he buys sweets if he can't read the names. Simon says he remembers the colours, but adds that he once went to the wrong counter, and ended up eating a packet of birdseed, which didn't taste too bad.
  • Five-Finger Discount: A regular pass time of some pupils.
    • Cathy Hargreaves shoplifts during an unexpected day off school, egged on by Madelin Tanner. They get caught quickly.
    • Ronnie Birtles discovers that Helen Kelly, Georgina Hayes and Calley Donnington regularly shoplift with ease and, facing money problems, succumbs to trying it. She gets caught and a police caution on the first attempt. Feeling guilty about the situation the other three confess their actions and get away with a telling off by the school, shop and police.
  • Fooled by the Sound: During a school trip, Doyle makes the sound of wild animals to scare the girls, Penny and Susi, who run into the forest and get lost.
  • Funny Background Event: As Cathy and Madelin are led away having been caught shoplifting, a poster is visible saying "Shoplifting: fine, prison, is it worth it?".
  • 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!
  • Glasses Pull: The stern middle-aged maths teacher Mr Keating does this to silence the cocky Tucker Jenkins, and does so with Doyle in the same episode.
    Jenkins: Finished, sir, can I go?
    Mr Keating: You may go when you've done your homework.
    Jenkins: But sir, what about the play?
    (Mr Keating whips his glasses off, and glares at Jenkins)
    Jenkins: (meekly) Yes, sir.
  • 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..."
  • Got Volunteered: In series 2, Mr Mitchell asks Trisha Yates (in a highly brusque tone) to knock on Simon Shaw's door every morning to make sure he is awake; she reluctantly agrees. Her mother quips that she's a real muggins, and gets landed with everything.
  • Gym Class Hell: Mr Hicks, who victimises one pupil, throwing him to floor so he cuts his head, telling the head teacher that the boy slipped on the wet floor. Later, Mr Baxter sees Mr Hicks doing the same to another boy, and puts him in his place:
    Mr Baxter: (yelling) Mr Hicks!! Come here.
    Mr Hicks: Yes, Mr Baxter?
    (Mr Baxter throws him to the floor)
    Mr Baxter: Slip on the wet floor, did you?
  • Gym Class Rope Climb: When Miss Peterson puts the girls through a gruelling obstacle course, Sally Forsyth falls to the floor during a rope climb. It turns out she had a weak heart.
  • 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: Many pupils tried to their hand at this including Douglas "Pogo" Patterson, Luke "Gonch" Gardener and Russell "Jacko" Morgan. The results were never profitable.
  • Hot for Student
  • Ignorant About Fire:
    • In series 2, Tucker, Benny and Simon knock over some lighted candles when they sneak into the school one evening, setting fire to the room.
    • In series 3, Andrew Stanton and Alan Humphries sneak off for a cigarette during a school trip, accidentally setting fire to dry grass, necessitating a human chain of buckets of water to put it out.
  • Jingle the Coins: A bully makes Justin Bennett jump up and down to find out if he is carrying money, before intimidating him into handing over the coins jingling in his pockets.
  • Large Ham: Michael Sheard plays an absolutely enormous one with Mr Bronson.
  • Leit Motif: A very rare example in the second series: there is quiet dramatic music when Tucker, Alan and Benny sneak into nearby Brookdale school, to retrieve a stolen blazer.
  • Little Stowaway: On a ferry trip to France, two boys try to take a boy on the trip who does not have a passport, by smuggling him through the coach emergency exit.
  • Long-Runners: And how. Lasted for 31 years, from 1978 to 2008. The only longer-running show on CBBC is Blue Peter.
  • Mathematician's Answer: During an end-of-term quiz:
    Mr Baxter: "Transubstantiation" is a difficult word. Can anyone spell it?
    Hughes: Sir, you said spell "it". I, T!
    Mr Baxter: (grudgingly) A point to Grange Hill.
  • 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.
  • Moustache Vandalism: On a gallery of the teachers, the pupils use putty to give Mr Keating a moustache, and Mr Baxter horns.
    Teacher: (seeing the gallery) Baxter, that's got to be an improvement.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, Tucker Jenkins glances at Trisha Yates's chest. She snaps back "I'm talking to the man, not your shirt button".
  • Never Learned to Read: This affects a number of pupils over the years.
    • Simon Shaw in an early series, and this seems to go unnoticed by his unseen parents, and teachers; every time one of them asks him to read, he invents an excuse, such as not having his glasses (which nobody has seen him wear). Simon confesses being unable to read to fellow pupil Trisha Yates, who very kindly tries to teach him to read, but it does not go well.
      Trisha: Tell someone!
      Simon: No!!
      Trisha: Why not?
      Simon: Because they'll send me to a school for loonies, that's why.
    • Tegs Ratcliffe in series 11 has spent his time engaged in petty crime and evading school work so teachers have never really noticed he can't read. Justine Dean forces him to go for remedial lessons despite his belief they will be patronising using books for very young children.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When Tucker, Benny and Alan sneak into Brookdale school to retrieve a stolen blazer, as they try to leave, they are confronted by a teacher, who realises that something is wrong. Just then, their bullies arrive and chase them, distracting the teacher, and the heroes escape.
  • Non-Answer: When Tucker and his mates sneak into the rival school Brookdale, and pretend to be pupils there, Tucker deflects the question asked by a teacher who confronts them.
    Teacher: What form are you in?
    Tucker: We're in the first year, sir.
    Teacher: I didn't ask that, I asked what form you are in.
  • 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 1981 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 school's takings at the disco.
  • Police Line Up: A downplayed version would have happened in series 2. The headmaster tells the school that the caretaker had reason to speak to four boys; he does not know their names, but is sure he will recognise them again. The headmaster offers the boys a chance to step forward, or for everybody to form a line; the boys choose to step forward.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: When Mr Baxter confronts a suspiciously loitering pupil.
    Mr Baxter: What are you doing here?
    Pupil: Er... I'm waiting for someone.
    Mr Baxter: Who for, Godot? (Pupil looks blank) You wouldn't know, it's a literary reference.
  • Ransacked Room: The Students' Action Group stage an anti-uniform protest in the secretary's office. When they refuse to leave, the headmaster locks them in. They then telephone the local paper; but when the headmaster persuades the reporters to leave, the rebellious pupils angrily ransack the office.
  • 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.
  • Road-Sign Reversal: This happens on several occasions, when an arrow has been attached to a sign so it can be rotated, and a sneaky pupil changes the direction of the arrow.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: Lampshaded in an early episode, when the Deadpan Snarker teacher Mr Baxter gives the first years a lesson in rugby, causing Justin Bennett to have a nose bleed. Alan Humphries excels in this lesson, and brings Mr Baxter to the ground, who smiles and says "that's more or less the idea".
    (Before the lesson)
    Mr Baxter: Today I have a treat for you. Today we're going to play rugby football.
    Boys: Oh no!
    Mr Baxter: Oh yes. And we're going to enjoy it, aren't we, Jenkins?
    Jenkins: Yes sir.
    Mr Baxter: Yes sir.
  • 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 1988, 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!
    • Mr Bronson also had a moment of being a Straw Misogynist, when he apprehended a crane operator lowering a temporary classroom on top of his car (which he had parked in defiance of "no parking" signs).
      Bronson (when the crane operator takes off her hard hat) But you're a woman!
      Crane operator: Ten out of ten!
    • In another episode a student was late to one of Mr Bronson's classes because another teacher had sent them on an errand. Bronson immediately gave the child a detention and refused to listen to why he had been late, further punishing him for objecting. When Bronson was confronted about the matter, he claimed the child should have accepted the detention without question.
  • Shout-Out: One 1980s storyline has Grange Hill students attending a Model United Nations as Tanzania.
  • "Silly Me" Gesture: Played for laughs when Stern Teacher Mr Mitchell slaps his own wrist when talking to Tucker Jenkins, with whom he has a love-hate relationship.
    Mr Mitchell: How is the model coming along?
    Tucker: Don't touch it, sir, it's still wet!
    Mr Mitchell: (slaps himself) Oh! Jenkins, I'm sorry, good gracious!
  • Slipping into Stink: On a trip to the Isle of Wight, Mauler takes fright at a group of cows, slips and falls in a cowpat.
  • 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.
  • Tear Up the Contract: When the Reasonable Authority Figure Mr Mitchell catches Benny and Trisha skipping school, and has discussed it with them, he draws a line under the matter by tearing up the note he had given Trisha to take to her parents.
    Mr Mitchell: You shouldn't have done this, but we'll say no more about it. (Tears up note) Provided I see you both in school tomorrow, and with smiling faces!
  • Teen Drama: You could call this the Ur-Example.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Grange Hill was one of the first British soap operas to deal with it although beaten by EastEnders.
  • This Is What the Building Will Look Like: At the end of series 2, the grumpy caretaker Mr Garfield brings in a wooden model of a future plan for the school, on loan from the town hall, to place alongside the models of "Grange Hill today" made by the pupils, and what the site might have looked like hundreds of years ago.
  • Toast of Tardiness: One episode in series 2 begins with Jenkins running out of his front door with toast in his mouth.
  • Token Minority: As one of the earlier children's TV shows to tackle racism, characters such as Benny Green and Sudhamani Patel appeared in early series. When Trisha and Benny have both skipped school one afternoon, Benny because of being insulted for his skin colour (being called "golliwog", "chocolate" etc.), there is a memorable scene with the two of them discussing this, using then-accepted terms:
    Trisha: Anyway, it's not your fault you're a nig-nog, is it?
    Benny: And it's not your fault you're a honky, is 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!"
  • Vigilante Injustice: After the school bully Gripper Stebson's long reign of terror, a group of pupils plot to ambush him in the school toilets. Mr Baxter intervenes just in time, saying that vigilantism cannot be tolerated, no matter how justified one feels; but as he loathes Stebson as much as everybody else, he adds that he was very tempted to remain outside.
  • 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.
  • Wardrobe Wound: In series 2, Jackie Heron destroys almost the entire wardrobe of the school play by throwing silver paint over it, to spite Miss Summers, who is shocked and horrified.
  • Waving Signs Around: In an early series, the Students' Action Group hold protests against school uniform, complete with demonstrations, and makeshift signs. In a gesture of Defiant to the End, they stage a sit-in protest in the secretary's office. Unconcerned, the headmaster locks them in. The group put sheets of paper with big letters in the window, saying "S. A. G. Sit-in No. 1".