40 Years of Grange Hill

Windsor Building, Royal Holloway, University of London, 28 April 2018

grange hill

The Centre for the History of Television Culture and Production at Royal Holloway, University of London, has teamed up with the television archive organisation, Kaleidoscope, and the Good Grief Trust  (a charity run by the former Grange Hill actress Linda Magistris) to co-host an event marking the fortieth anniversary of the BBC children’s TV drama, Grange Hill.

Set in a London comprehensive school, the programme was first broadcast on 8 February 1978. Although initially conceived as a nine-part series, the programme proved so popular that it continued to be made until 2008. It also earned a reputation for its realism and willingness to tackle difficult subjects – from bad behaviour and truancy to drug use and teenage pregnancy – which also meant that it soon became a source of public controversy.

The event at Royal Holloway on 28 April 2018 will bring together a number of those involved in the making of the programme, including the original Executive Producer, Anna Home, the programme’s creator and original writer, Phil Redmond and many of the show’s cast. Helen Wheatley and Rachel Moseley from the University of Warwick and Maire Messenger Davies from the University of Ulster will also assess Grange Hill’s importance in TV history.

The Programme

10.00               Welcome and Introduction: Professor John Hill, RHUL and Chris Perry, Kaleidoscope

10.05               The Good Grief Trust – Linda Magistris

10.10               Panel 1: How it all began – Anna Home

10.50               Short break

11.00               Panel 2: The Pupils – George Armstrong, Mark Baxter, Linda Magistris, Erkan Mustafa

11.45               Panel 3:  The Composer – Alan Hawkshaw

12.15               Panel 4: The Creator and Writer – Phil Redmond

13.15               Lunch break

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13.55               The Just Say No video

14.00               Panel 5:  The Pupils – Joanne Boakes, Lisa Skeates, Paul McCarthy

15.15               Tea Break

15.40               Panel 6:  The Teachers – Lucinda Curtis, Gwyneth Powell

16.30               Panel 7: The Legacy of Grange Hill – Máire Messenger Davies, Rachel Moseley, Helen Wheatley

17.10                Farewell and thanks – John Hill


Notes on participants:

Anna Home joined the BBC in 1960. Home revived BBC children’s drama including being executive producer of children’s drama, and in this role commissioned the long-running Grange Hill. Anna is now the Chief Executive of the Children’s Film and Television Foundation, and chair of Save Kids’ TV.  She won the Eleanor Farjeon Award in 1989, was awarded an OBE in 1993 and received the BAFTA Special Award in 1996.

Phil Redmond is a writer and producer, who wrote and created Grange Hill (BBC), Brookside (Channel 4, 1982–2003) and Hollyoaks (Channel 4, 1995—). For over twenty years he also ran his own independent production company, Mersey Television.  In 2013 Phil Redmond published his autobiography Mid-Term Report. In 2016 Phil Redmond published his first novel Highbridge. In 1989, Phil was awarded the post of Honorary Professor of Media Studies at Liverpool John Moores University. In November 2010 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Chester.  He was awarded the CBE in 2004 for services to drama. Phil is Chair of National Museums Liverpool and of the UK City of Culture Independent Advisory Panel.

Alan Hawkshaw composed the theme tune to Grange Hill.

The cast of Grange Hill:

George Armstrong played Alan Humphries, part of Tucker’s gang, judo enthusiast, smoker and first boyfriend of Susi McMahon

Mark Baxter played Duane Orpington, who enjoyed riding his bike to school, and was attracted towards Claire Scott

Joanne Boakes played Anita Unsworth, who lived with her gran

Lucinda Curtis played Mrs Reagan, the PE teacher and mother of Laura Regan

Linda Magistris played Susie McMahon, a shy, clever girl who learnt judo to get rid of the bullies

Paul McCarthy played Tommy Watson, part of Tucker’s gang and very popular with the ladies

Erkan Mustafa played Roland Browning, who was victimised by Gripper Stebson and was nearly killed in a road accident

Gwyneth Powell played Mrs McClusky, the Headmistress of Grange Hill for many years

Lisa Skeates played Christine Everson, who was friends with Claire and Suzanne

Máire Messenger Davies is Emerita Professor of Media Studies at Ulster University, and a Visiting Professor at the University of South Wales. She specialises in the study of child media audiences, and is the author of several books including Children, Media and Culture (2010); “Dear BBC”: Children, Television Storytelling and the Public Sphere (2001), Television is Good for Your Kids  (1989, 2002) and, with Roberta Pearson, Star Trek and American Television (2014.)

Rachel Moseley is Reader in Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick and a co-founder of the Centre for Television History, Heritage and Memory Research. She has published widely on questions of identity and address in popular film and television, and in particular in relation to drama for teenagers on British television, and on stop-frame animation for the very young in the 1960s and 1970s.

Helen Wheatley is the Director of the Centre for Television History, Heritage and Memory Research and Reader in Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick. She is currently writing about television and death and leading projects on archive television up to and into Coventry’s City of Culture year. She is the author of numerous books and articles on British television history and aesthetics, including Gothic Television (2006) and Spectacular Television: Exploring Televisual Pleasure (2016),

The Hosts

John Hill is Professor of Media at Royal Holloway, University of London and Co-Director of the Centre for the History of Television Culture and Production. He was leader of the AHRC-funded research project on ‘Forgotten TV Drama’ and is the author or editor of various books and journals on film and television.

Chris Perry is a co-founder and CEO of Kaleidoscope which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. He is a regular guest on BBC Radio Solent’s Wall of Sound Show and formerly was the Channel Director of Big Centre TV. He works for various TV production companies making lookback shows and is the author of nine books on television and antique glass.



In September 2018, the Museum of Liverpool opened a 40th anniversary Grange Hill exhibition that included original hand-written scripts, the 1950s typewriter on which Phil Redmond then typed them up, items of uniform worn on the show and a range of Grange Hill memorabilia. The exhibition also included a signed version of the Grange Hill anniversary poster prepared by the Good Grief Trust for the Royal Holloway event and which was donated to the Museum by Professor John Hill.