GRANGE HILL - Most Memorable Storylines from the 80s

By Mark Nobes and Hannah Johnson

From the flying sausage on a fork in the opening credits, to Roland eating crisps, Grange Hill featured many iconic and unforgettable memories for those of us who grew-up watching the classic BBC TV series. 

The gritty series was not short of drama and controversy, and wasn't afraid to tackle serious issues such as drug abuse and racism. So, in this post, we're going to take a look back at a few of Grange Hill's most memorable storylines from the 80s. Given the stricter guidelines that are imposed on children's TV these days, it's highly unlikely that some of these stories would ever be shown on TV today.

It all started in 1978 and was produced by Liverpudlian Phil Redmond, who also went on to produce Brookside and Hollyoaks

The children's TV drama was shown at tea-time on BBC1 and was one of the longest running programmes on British Television. 

Several of the young actors and actresses went on to have major roles in Eastenders, including Todd Carty as Tucker Jenkins, and Susan Tully as Suzanne Ross.

The last ever episode of Grange Hill was shown on 15th September 2008, after a run of 30 years.

Zammo Mcguire's descent into Drugs

Before Zammo became a heroin addict, he was friends with 'Jonah' Jones, before actor Lee Sparke left Grange Hill, making his final appearance in episode 18 of series 6. Zammo's descent into drugs is the most famous of all the Grange Hill storylines, and ran in series 9 and 10 from 1986-87.
His addiction causes strained relationships with girlfriend Jackie Wright (Melissa Wilks) and friend Kevin Baylon (Mmoloki Chrystie). Jackie and Zammo slowly drift apart and Jackie has a relationship with Steven 'Banksy' Banks, which upsets Zammo.
Desperate for money to fund his drug habit, he let's his addict friend, Doug, riffle through his mum's belongings to pick out stuff to sell in exchange for drugs.
The scene where he is found collapsed with glazed eyes, next to a toilet in the local amusement arcade, became an iconic part of the 1980s.
The storyline resulted in the the Grange Hill cast releasing the anti-drugs record "Just Say No" in April 1986, which reached No.5 in the UK singles chart. 

Claire Scott's Schoolgirl Crush on Mr. Hopwood

Claire was played by Paula-Ann Bland between 1981 and 1985, and this storyline certainly made for uncomfortable viewing. Claire develops a crush on her form tutor, the woodwork teacher Mr. Stuart 'Hoppy' Hopwood (Brian Capron), which comes to light in episode 14 of series 5, when Claire seems to be spending a lot of time hanging around him.
She fantasizes about being together with him in her diary, which is discovered by her over-protective Mum. This leads to Claire's father making an angry visit to Grange Hill, and confronting Mr Hopwood in front of his pupils. He also makes a complaint to Mrs McClusky.
It becomes extremely embarrassing for Claire, who is forced to reveal that what is contained in her diary are fantasies rather than the truth, which means Mr. Hopwood is in the clear.
Grange Hill Annual 1985 front cover ft. Suzanne Ross, Christopher 'Stewpot' Stuart, Claire Scott and Douglas 'Pogo' Patterson.
The Grange Hill Annual 1985 ft. Suzanne Ross, Christopher 'Stewpot' Stuart, Claire Scott and Douglas 'Pogo' Patterson.

Roland Browning's First Day

Roland (played by Erkan Mustafa from 1982 to 1987) is finding it hard to adjust on his first day at Grange Hill (episode 1 of series 5), and has a nasty encounter with bully Gripper Stebson. Unable to cope, he goes and locks himself in the toilets. Zammo and his mate Jonah come to the rescue with 'stink bombs', and so Roland has no option but to come out and face the teachers. 
Roland had to face constant negativity about his weight, and in episode 14 of series 5, he has a session with a psychologist and is told he has to go and see a dietician.
You may also remember his friend Janet St. Clair (played by Simone Nylander from 1982 to 1986), who referred to him as "Ro-land", and often tried to offer him advice. However, Roland was reluctant to form a friendship with her and found her bothersome.
Thankfully, Roland's character grew stronger as the series progressed and the bullying stopped, which made for much more pleasant viewing. He made his final appearance in episode 24 of seriies 10. 

Gripper Stebson Bullies Roland Browning

Norman "Gripper" Stebson is played by Mark Savage between 1981 and 1985. His storylines revolved around his constant bullying of certain pupils, which eventually causes some of them to finally take action against him. 
During series 5, Gripper picks on Roland Browning, poking fun at his weight and taking money from him. The bullying starts from the moment Roland arrives at Grange Hill, which leads to him deliberately cutting himself in woodwork in episode 2. This was very uncomfortable viewing, but reflected the reality faced by many pupils at comprehensive schools in the 80s.
In one scene, Douglas "Pogo" Patterson (played by Peter Moran between 1980 and 1984) is trying to sell some pens to Roland. Gripper intervenes to try and take the money from Pogo, and the pair almost get into a fight before gripper is surrounded by everyone in the playground.
In episode 13 of series 6, after Gripper is suspended, his best friend Denny Rees is nicknamed 'Igor' and is ridiculed by his classmates. 
Mark Savage as Gripper Stebson

Credit: BBC

Gripper Stebson's Racism Against Black Students

When Gripper's bullying spiralled out of control in series 6, it created one of the most controversial storylines ever seen in a children's TV programme. He starts to use racial abuse against black students, and takes a dislike towards a new classmate, Randir, who is a Sikh.
In episode 4 of series 6, Pogo asks Randir to show him how to put on a turban. However, when Gripper spots them, he warns them that "life's going to get tough for any foreigners."
In another episode, Gripper corners two black students in the changing rooms and soaks them in the shower, referring to them as "scum".
In episode 14, Gripper and his gang corner Randir in the toilets, but Mr Baxter hears them and intervenes, and he dunks Gripper's head in the basin. Claire Scott also receives a dirty mop in her face from Gripper, leaving her in tears, and all of the day's events finally lead to his suspension.

Suzanne Ross dresses as Boy George

Suzanne is anti-authority and rarely cheerful, and she is played by Susan Tully between 1981 and 1984 (Series 4 to 7). Her friends include Claire Scott and Stewart "Stewpot" Stewart.
She has many run-ins with headmistress Mrs McCluskey, who she refers to as "Bridget", which is her first name. In series 6, Suzanne's choice of skirt upsets Mrs McCluskey.
In one very memorable scene from series 7 (episode 17), Suzanne (who has already left Grange Hill) decides to make a visit dressed as singer Boy George. Mrs McCluskey is very annoyed when she spots her in the corridor and shouts out "just what does that girl at the end of the corridor, think she’s doing coming to school dressed like that?". Suzanne replies "I’m Suzanne Ross, Mrs McCluskey, and I left Grange Hill three months ago, so what I wear is really up to me now, don’t you think?". The look on Mrs McCluskey's face is priceless! 
Suzanne Ross and Claire Scott, series 7 of Grange Hill

Suzanne Ross and Claire Scott in series 7. Credit: BBC

Mr. Bronson's Toupee is Stolen

He was the most loathed teacher in the history of Grange Hill. In episode 15 of series 8, Mr. Bronson (Michael Sheard) has a private swimming session in the pool (courtesy of Mr. Baxter) and leaves his toupee in the changing rooms, so Gonch and Hollo decide to steal it as a joke.
They place the wig on a plastic dummy that they found at a dumpBronson is forced to wear his baseball cap and then turns up to school the next day wearing a spare toupee, which is a different colour, much to the amusement of pupils and teachers. 
In another episode, Bronson is knocked over in a school back entrance by Robbie, Ziggy and Gonch, who are running towards him. Bronson falls to the ground and loses not only all of his papers but also his toupee! Bronson's dodgy hairpiece definitely gave us with some of the funniest moments from the 80s series.
Michael Sheard as Mr. Bronson in Grange Hill

Credit: BBC

Gonch's Dodgy Business Schemes

Luke 'Gonch' Gardner also provided us with some amusing storylines whilst running his many dodgy business schemes at Grange Hill from 1985 to 1989 (series 8 to 12), including a dating agency, a buttered toast service (for 10p per slice) and his own PE Kit lending scheme.
Some of his earliest schemes involved retrieving old folders from a skip and selling wire coat hangers as music stands. In series 11, he starts a baby-sitting business but has to find a couple of fake girlfriends for himself and Ziggy.
All of his Gonch's wheeler dealer schemes had one thing in common - they always ended in disaster!
John McMahon as Gonch (Luke Gardner)

Credit: BBC

N2'sOutward Bound Course in Wales

N2 take a trip to Wales for their Outbound Course, and this story ran in episodes 15 and 16 during series six, and provided many amusing moments.

Teachers Mr. Baxter and Miss Mooney discover they will be called by their first name Geoff and Terri, and will also have to take part in the activities, which doesn't sit well with either of them!
As expected, Roland is useless at the physical activities and decides to wander off instead. He goes for a walk and meets a farmer, who teaches him about agriculture and the Welsh language. He gives 'Roly' a Welsh dictionary as a gift during the barn dance.
Sports teacher Mr. Baxter is too scared to take to the zip-wire, which is highly embarrassing for him, and Ziggy almost drowns when his canoe overturns.
During the barn dance at the end of episode 16, Miss Mooney and Mr. baxter both dance together to Captain Sensible, much to the delight of the pupils. However, Geoff warns his pupils that they must refer to him as "Sir" or "Mr. Baxter" when they return to school!

Mr. Baxter (Michael Cronin). Credit: BBC

Imelda Davis and her Terrahawks Gang

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Grange Hill after Gripper was suspended, along comes another little terror, Imelda Davis (complete with 80s mullet), who was played by Fleur Taylor from 1985 to 1987 (series 8 to 10). She forms her Terrahawks gang with friends Georgina Hayes and Helen Kelly.
Imelda is very disruptive in her classes, disobeying teachers orders and generally causing chaos. In episode 3 of series 9, she decides to put fibreglass down Ziggy's back, leaving him with an injured back.
Georgina soon becomes fed up with Imelda's behaviour and wants to leave the gang but is too scared to do so. She also starts a relationship with Ant Jones, but a jealous Imelda tries to bully her and wants her to stop seeing him.
Eventually, Helen also wants to end her friendship with Imelda and starts avoiding her in series 10. During this series, Imelda's negative behaviour reaches new heights and she destroys the new notice board with hair dye and smashes equipment in the science laboratory. She also steals a tin full of money for the Danny Kendall Fund. Imelda is finally expelled in episode 1- of series 10.
Fleur Taylor as Imelda Davis in Grange Hill

Credit: BBC

List of Memorable GRANGE HILL CHARACTERS from the 80s

All images are credited to the BBC

Alison Bettles as Fay Lucas (1982 to 1987)

Bradley Sheppard as Paul 'Hollo' Holloway (1985-87).

Douglas Chambelain as Julian Fairbrother in Grange Hill 1985
Douglas Chamberlain as Julian Fairbother (1985).

Precious Matthews in Grange Hill (1981-85) played by Dulice Liecier
Dulice Liecier as Precious Matthews (1981-85).

Goerge A Cooper as Mr. Griffiths the caretaker

George A. Cooper as the grumpy caretaker Mr. Griffiths the (1985 to 1992)

George Wilson as Eric 'Ziggy' Greaves (1986 to 1989). Later credited as George Christopher.

John Alford as Robbie

John Alford as Robbie Wright (1985-1990)

Jonathan Lambeth as Danny in Grange Hill

Jonathan Lambeth as Danny Kendall (1986-89)

Karen Lewis as teacher Miss Partridge

Lee MacDonald as Zammo McGuire in Grange Hill (1982-87)

Lee MacDonald as Samuel 'Zammo' McGuire (1982-87).

Luke 'Gonch' Gardner was played by John Holmes from 1985 to 1989. He was later credited as John McMahon. 

Duane Orpington - Grange Hill (played by Mark Baxter 1980-84)

Mark Baxter as Duane Orpington (1980-84). 

Mark Burdis as Stewpot in Grange Hill
Mark Burdis as Christopher 'Stewpot' Stuart (1981-85)

Melissa Wilks as Jackie Wright

Melissa Wilks as Jackie Wright (1984 to 1987)

Nadia Chambers as Annette Firman (1982 to 1985)

Paula Ann-Bland as Claire Scott (1981 to 1985)

Rachel Victoria Roberts as Justine in Grange Hill
Rachel Victoria Roberts as Justine Dean (1988-1994)

Ricky Simmonds as Ant Jones in Grange Hill (1986-87)

Ricky Simmonds as Ant Jones (1986-87) 

Sara McGlasson as Julia Glover (1986 to 1988). Later credited as Sara Peters.

Steve West as Vince in Grange Hill

Steve West played the role of Vincent 'Vince' Savage from 1985 to 1989

Tina Mahon as Veronica 'Ronnie' Birtles (1985 to 1991)

Trisha Yates and Todd Carty in Grange Hill
One of the best remembered characters from the earlier series was Tucker Jenkins. He was, of course, played by Todd Carty, who was in Grange Hill between 1978 and 1982. He went on to star in Tucker's Luck from 1983 to 1985, and played Mark Fowler in Eastenders.
Trisha Yates was usually moaning about something but is putting on a rare smile here. She was played by Michelle Herbert from 1978 to 1982.
Tony Armatrading as Mr. McCartney the music teacher in Grange Hill (1985)
Music teacher Mr. McCartney (1985) played by Tony Armatrading.

The Grange Hill Annual 1985 ft. Annette Firman, Zammo McGuire, Jonah Jones and Fay Lucas
The Grange Hill Annual from 1984 ft. the characters Annette Firman (Nadia Chambers), Samuel 'Zammo' McGuire (Lee McDonald), Gordan 'Jonah' Jones (Lee Sparke) and Fay Lucas (Alison Bettles).