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Mark Andrews – 21st century Grange Hill? Just say no!

Grange Hill is coming back. The popular children's television drama, set in a sink comprehensive school in inner London, is to become a movie, with the series' original creator Sir Phil Redmond adapting the script to reflect the issues and values of today.

Would Tucker glue himself to the cycle rack if they made Grange Hill today?
Would Tucker glue himself to the cycle rack if they made Grange Hill today?

It is easy to say the appeal of such an idea. Nostalgia is big business these days, and back in the late 70s and early 80s, Grange Hill pulled in nearly as many viewers as Crossroads. But while many of these old favourites were much more entertaining than anything that made today, it is something else

Take Happy Days, for example. Could you imagine the reaction today if a 35-year-old bloke started hanging around the school gates on his motorbike, befriending the kids? And I know they made a movie based on the Dukes of Hazzard a few years back, but I suspect driving a car around with a confederate flag on the roof and calling it the General Lee would probably be more controversial in today's ultra-sensitive climate.

And besides, what would Grange Hill in the 21st century be like?

For a start, it wouldn't be called Grange Hill. It would be called something banal. In partnership with Eazikleen Hygiene Products. It would have a meaningless "mission statement", and a website which revealed nothing about its exam results, but quite a lot about its "ethos".

Instead of ambling up the school drive kicking a football, Benny Green and his mates would have to negotiate Checkpoint Charlie with three sets of security gates and razor wire fencing. Mrs McCluskey would have been promoted to the role of chief executive, and relocated her office to Jersey for tax purposes.

Tucker and Tricia would glue themselves to the cycle rack in solidarity with Extinction Rebellion. And it's just as well the new version is going to be a film rather than a twice-weekly TV show, because every Friday the kids would be on strike.

Mr Baxter would have been arrested and sacked for hate speech after telling Roland to get some exercise and lose weight. Pogo Patterson, having briefly made a few quid selling hand gel and face masks on the black market, would be claiming furlough because the pandemic had disrupted his homework scam.

On the plus side, Kendall would probably become a millionaire by spraying Banksy-style murals on bus shelters, but he would probably still end up in trouble for vaping in the toilets.

There would obviously be know "flying sausage" in the opening credits, because that would be contrary to the school's healthy eating policy. And besides, all school meals would probably now need to be vegan-friendly.

Presumably, the academy's enlightened policy on drugs would create a "safe space" where Zammo was free to shoot up in peace, and the cast would release a pop single snappily entitled "Just say... we are losing the war on drugs, so it's time for a sensible and grown-up debate".

Which may well get to No. 1, but nobody would know. Kids don't follow the pop charts any more.

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