Grange Hill Actors who Have Sadly Died
By Mark Nobes and Hannah Johnson
Many of us have a favourite character or actor from Grange Hill, who we watched in our own childhood. However, you will be sad to hear that four of them, who played iconic or lead characters during the 1970s and 80s, have sadly passed away since the series ended in 2008.
The hugely popular children's school drama was set in an English comprehensive school in North London, and first aired on February 8th 1978 on BBC1. In the early years, many scenes were filmed at real schools in London. In 2003, production moved to Liverpool, after creator Phil Redmond roped in his own production company Mersey TV to produce the the programme.
After an incredible 31 series (600 episodes), the very last episode aired on 5th September 2008. Some of the cast were successful actors long before and after Grange Hill, whilst others found fame and fortune from appearing in the series. There's no doubt that Grange Hill gave some of the actors a vital stepping stone that helped them to progress to a successful acting career in their adulthood.
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Terry Sue-Patt (Benny Green)
Terry is best remembered for playing the football fanatic Benny Green, who was one of Tucker Jenkins' best friends in the series. The young actor was just 13-years-old when he made his first appearance in the programme in 1978. In fact, he was the very first child to walk through the gates of Grange Hill in episode 1.
Benny Green appeared for one final time in series 5, playing football with his pal Zammo Mcguire, and also stepping in to protect Roland Browning from being bullied by Gripper Stebson.
Terry landed his first acting role when he was just 8, in a 1973 public information film called Lonely Water. After leaving Grange Hill in 1982, Terry played Yusef in the 1989 BBC TV drama film The Firm, and then played a nurse in Cardiac Arrest in the mid-1990s.
Sadly, Terry passed away at the age of 50, after he was found dead at his flat in Walthamstow in 2015. The actor had struggled to come to terms with the death of his brother Michael, who was killed in a car accident in 1989.
An obituary in The Guardian newspaper suggested that he "became increasingly dependent on alcohol" and "struggled financially". It's believed that his body may had been undiscovered for around a month after he died, which is a very sad ending indeed.
Gwyneth Powell (Mrs. McClusky)
Being a stickler for the rules, the stern but fair headmistress Bridget McClusky, may not have been the best-loved character in the series, but she was certainly one of the most memorable and iconic.
Her obsession with maintaining high standards riled many of the pupils, particularly when she banned certain articles from appearing in the school magazine. Her acting skills for the role were brilliant, although, there were some who compared her character to Margaret Thatcher, who was the Prime Minister at the time.
Gwyneth had many other acting roles long before and after her Grange Hill appearances. Her very last appearance on screen was as a "nice lady" in an episode of the BBC1 sitcom Not Going Out in 2022.
Gwyneth also enjoyed other acting roles while still in Grange Hill - she played Maureen in a 1986 episode of the Channel 4 comedy Chance in a Million.
Mrs McClusky reappeared in a 2009 episode of Ashes To Ashes, which showed archive footage with new audio recorded by Powell. The Mrs McClusky character appeared for a final time in a series 2 of A Touch Of Cloth, (the 2013 episode Undercover Cloth) in which Todd Carty is fatally shot.
Gwyneth Powell sadly died on 8th September 2022, following complications from surgery for a perforated colon. Her actor husband Alan Leith and her niece were both at her bedside in Brighton.
Nicholas Donnelly (Mr. Mackenzie)
We move from one of the most hated teachers to one of the best-loved teachers. Nicholas Donnelly played the beloved Scottish woodwork teacher Mr. Clive Mackenzie, from 1985 to 1989, and he was a hit not only with the pupils, but also with viewers.
Before appearing in Grange Hill, Donnelly had played Sergeant Johnny Wills in 200 episodes of the BBC police TV series Dixon of Dock Green, between 1961 and 1976. He also played a Police Inspector in the 1985 sci-fi horror movie Lifeforce.
Donnelly was a big fan of the Scottish football team Queen's Park Rangers. He retired from acting and moved to Hastings during 1993, where he became the lay minister of his Catholic Church at St Mary Star Of The Sea.
Nicholas was not suffering from any illness and died peacefully in his sleep on 9th January 2022, at the age of 83.
Mark Farmer (Gary Hargreaves)
Like Benny Green, Gary Hargreaves was also a footie-loving pupil at Grange Hill, and appeared in series 2 to 4 between 1979 and 1981. In one episode, he tried to gain the affection of Trisha Yates.
In 1983, he played the lead role of Johnny Jarvis in the British drama of the same name, which ran for one series on BBC1.
He then played Arthur Daley's protégé Justin James in the ITV comedy-drama Minder.
After this, he starred alongside Matthew Kelly (Fitz) in the Channel 5 sitcom Relative Strangers, playing Fitz's son, John.
During the 90s, after retiring from acting, Farmer went on to form a band called Littlehouse, with his schoolfriend Billy Hardwicke. They disbanded around 2001, although the two friends continued to play music together.
Mark also played guitar for Bad Manners for a time during the 90s.
Mark sadly passed away on 26 April 2016, aged just 53, after a short battle with cancer.
So those are the four Grange Hill actors who have sadly died, so far, and they are all sadly missed by fans of the series.