Friday, 31 August 2012

Grange Hell

Sometimes this is too easy.

Running for 30 years, Grange Hill was one of the world’s longest-running kid’s TV shows as well as one of the longest-running dramas on British television. Set in the (fictional) eponymous school, Grange Hill was conceived by writer Phil “Brookside” Redmond in 1975, although the first episode did not air until 1978.

From the start the series caused controversy for its gritty portrayal of school life, a million miles away from the more idealistic and anodyne school dramas that preceded it. This reached its zenith in the mid-1980s with the show’s infamous storyline about the character Zammo McGuire and his addiction to heroin. The story led to the cast recording an anti-drug single, Just Say No (and an accompanying, hysterically awful video) – a cover of a LaToya Jackson’s US single released to promote then-First Lady Nancy Reagan’s own anti-drug programme – and an album. The originally-titled Grange Hill – The Album was released to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary and to capitalise on the success of the single, which sold over 250,000 copies, reached the top five and raised £150,000 for anti-drug charities. The cast were whisked off to the White House to meet Mrs Reagan and to promote the anti-drugs message, however the credibility of the campaign was somewhat tarnished when several years later Erkan Mustafa, who played Roland Browning, claimed that many in the cast were on drugs themselves.

But back to the album: and what a corker of an album it is. As well as containing the obligatory hit single it also includes its follow-up, the dire You Know The Teacher (Smash Head) with its sub-John Barnes rap, a handful of newly-written but soppy and badly sung songs about teenage angst and a whole side of terrible cover versions of singalong favourites including Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop (sung by Zammo, Roland and various other cast members), the Who’s My Generation and, naturally, the Boomtown Rats’ ode to angry school children I Don’t Like Mondays. It’s horrific and, to prove the point, here for your enjoyment are what are undoubtedly the two worst tracks on this hideous release – the second single You Know The Teacher (Smash Head) which, unlike its predecessor failed to chart and the album’s closing track, an out-of-tune medley of The Greatest Love of All and That’s What Friends Are For.


1 comment:

  1. There was also a group within the show itself, pupils doing gigs as a storyline circa 30 yrs ago IIRC. Dreadful.


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