Flipin' 'eck Tucker!!!
Series 1 & 2
Tucker Jenkins? Benny Green? Trisha Yates? If these names mean nothing to you, then youve missed out on a hugely influential part of British childrens television programming. Fortunately, the release of Grange Hill Series 1 & 2 on DVD gives a whole new generation the chance to see where the enduring drama all began.
Set in a fictional London comprehensive school, Grange Hill was, from the off, a gritty and down-to-earth programme, far out of keeping with the childrens shows of the time. Introducing pupils such as those mentioned back at the start (and not for nothing is Tucker regarded as the first hero of the show), they were matched by a now-legendary roster of teachers: who can forget Mr Baxter the PE teacher, for instance?
The secret to Grange Hills success is inherent in these two maiden series. And it was the marrying up of a terrific cast of characters to storylines that felt real, without any attempt to gloss anything up. Plus, while its Tucker and his gang that are at the centre of much of the drama, theres plenty going on in the background too to hold your attention. Nostalgics may be surprised at just how much they remember!
But does it all hold up today? Absolutely. This is Grange Hill arguably at its rawest, and its all the better for it. And while controversial storylines would really push things out in the years to follow, its surprising just how well these early episodes have endured. Whether youre new to Grange Hill or not, this DVD set is a real treasure from the archives, and a long overdue release.
Series 3 & 4
34 episodes are included in all, spread across the six discs in the set, and theres a register of characters to get Grange Hill nostalgics happily reminiscing. On top of Tucker Jenkins and Benny Green, theres the introduction of Pogo Patterson and Duane Orpington, while by the fourth series, Mrs McCluskey had moved into the headteachers office, where shed stay for many years to come.
Joining Mrs McCluskey on the staff side were Grange Hill legends such as Mr Baxter, Hoppy Hopwood and Mr Sutcliffe, and between them they had plenty on their hands. From bike thieves to the tuck shop through to romance in the staff room and a member of the school council taking bribes, it was very much business as usual at Britains most infamous comprehensive school.
Series three and four really sees Grange Hill in confident form, consistently delivering interesting and progressive storylines for its cast of characters, that stand up well today. Whats remarkable is that far from enjoying this boxset as a simple look back to a golden part of childrens programming, youre likely to find yourself getting engrossed all over again. A smashing collection, that offers great value for money. Lets hope it doesnt take so long to release further series of the show.
HMV exclusive in this format (ie series 1/2/3/4 all together in a boxset - but you can't buy series 1/2/3/4 collected cheaper anywhere)