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Series / The Grimleys

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The Grimleys is a nostalgic comedy-drama television series set on a council estate in Dudley, The West Midlands, England in the mid-1970s. It was first broadcast by Granada TV for ITV in 1999, following a pilot in 1997, and concluded in 2001 after three series.

The show follows the ups and downs of the dysfunctional Grimley family. Gordon, the main character, is an intellectual but feeble schoolboy who has a crush on his teacher, Geraldine Titley. His younger brother Darren, who is sympathetic to Gordon yet frustrated by some of his character traits, narrates the storyline. Their father, Baz, (played by The Young Ones actor Nigel Planer) is a bone-idle British Leyland car worker who has been on strike for years and hardly ever moves from his armchair, spending his days watching television. He is particularly infuriated by Gordon's intellectual leanings, preferring that he leave school and get a "man's job" rather than go to university. Hard-working mum Janet despairingly tries to hold it all together.


Other domestic characters are Gordon and Darren's older sister Lisa and their Nan, who seems to be obsessed with a family curse. Next-door neighbours are the Titley family - Reg (a plumber), the aforementioned Geraldine (his niece) and his son Shane, a Bay City Roller lookalike and self-styled ladies' man.

To complicate matters, Shane is dating Lisa, while Janet and Reg obviously carry a torch for one another. Reg's sensitivity and surprisingly poetic tongue give rise to the question of Gordon's parentage (it being revealed at the end of the third and final series that he is actually Gordon's father).

Much of the show is set at the school that Gordon and Darren attend, and where Geraldine works as a teacher. Also on the staff is sadistic PE teacher "Dynamo" Doug Digby, who actually lives in a corner of the school gymnasium. He's in a relationship with Geraldine, leading to increasing tensions between him and Gordon (naturally, Gordon always comes off worst, their rivalry leading to ever more vindictive and bizarre punishments meted out by Digby).


Stealing the show was former Slade lead singer Noddy Holder, who played music teacher Neville Holder note . There were also a number of inspired cameos, notably Lewis Collins from The Professionals who appeared in one episode as Doug's father, Stephen Lewis from On the Buses as a coach driver and 1970s glam rocker Alvin Stardust, who played a pub landlord. The latter led to a series of clever in-jokes, such as Noddy and Alvin bemoaning the lost opportunities of their youth over a pint of beer; it's implied by the title of the second episode, "The Road Not Taken" (which ends with Holder mournfully strumming out a Slade song in the school hall) that The Grimleys takes place in an alternative 1970s in which Holder and his friend abandoned their rock music dreams in favour of more sensible jobs long before they became famous.


The first episode may be seen here

Tropes you siy in the Midlands town of Duddel-liy include:

  • Camp Straight: Gordon.
  • Convenient Coma: Geraldine, between the end of the second series (mid-1970s) and the first episode of the third (late 1970s).
  • Cool Teacher: Mr Holder.
  • Demoted to Extra: Lisa (Gordon and Darren's sister) had a prominent storyline in the pilot but hardly any lines in the first two series, before being Put on a Bus.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The pilot episode had several different cast members - notably Samantha Janus as Geraldine and Jack Dee as Digby. Also, the Grimley boys managed to get one over on Digby at the end - which they never managed to do in the series.
  • The Good Old British Comp: the school where much of the action takes place.
  • Gym Class Hell: inflicted by "Dynamo" Doug Digby and his Distaff Counterpart Miss Thing.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Digby. His bizarre death in the first episode of the third series is very much of his own making - he ends up getting impaled by a javelin which was part of an indoor assault course that he'd put together.
  • Hot Teacher: Geraldine Titley - regardless of whether she was played by Samantha Janus (pilot) or Amanda Holden (series 1-3).
  • Incest Is Relative: Played with, as Gordon lusts after Geraldine ... who he doesn't realise is actually his cousin (Gordon's biological father Reg being Geraldine's uncle). Implied in the case of Lisa and Shane, since we don't know for sure if Shane's dad Reg is also Lisa's biological father as well as Gordon's. Since Reg obviously disapproves of the relationship, he might have his suspicions.
  • Kavorka Man: Doug Digby has shades of this - given how often he is openly hostile to Geraldine's plans and ideas to the point of actively trying to sabotage them, you've got to wonder what she sees in him.
  • The Other Darrin: Several cast changes between the pilot and the first series, notably Geraldine (Samantha Janus, Amanda Holden) and Digby (Jack Dee, Brian Conley).
  • Sadist Teacher: Douglas Digby.
  • Sensei-chan: Miss Titley to Gordon Grimley - and to other students.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Averted. Gordon desperately wants one but Geraldine keeps it strictly professional.
  • The Midlands: The setting is the English Midlands, in Dudley, near Birmingham, a location and a strong local accent treated with fond derision by the rest of Great Britain.
  • The '70s: instantly recognisable to all who lived through the decade, either loving or loathing it.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After Digby is killed off at the start of the third series, he's replaced by Dave Trebilcock, a macho teacher (woodwork rather than PE, though) who dates Geraldine.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Janet, who has to put up with being married to the bone-idle Baz. At least one of their children (Gordon) isn't his. In the third series, she runs off with Mr Holder.
  • Theme Tune: For the first two series, "Bye Bye Baby" by the Bay City Rollers played over the opening credits while various Slade songs played over the closing credits. With the change in emphasis from the mid-1970s (glam rock) to the late 1970s (punk rock), the theme tune for the third series was "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" by the Buzzcocks, while "Jilted John" by Jilted John (with its refrain "Gordon is a moron") was also used.
  • Young Entrepreneur: Darren, who during his brief tenure in charge of the school tuckshop sells porno mags and cigarettes to his fellow-pupils. When Mr Holder finds out, he spares Darren a caning because he's impressed by his grasp of the law of supply and demand.

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