School reunion: The cast of Grange Hill meet again on This Morning FORTY years after the show first hit screens – having gone on to be locksmiths, PR gurus and City workers
- Children’s drama set at a North London comprehensive first aired in 1978
- Lee MacDonald who played Zammo McGuire now runs locksmith business
- Terry Sue-Patt was found dead aged 50 in 2015 after battling a drink problem
- Todd Carty has successful soap career while John Alford was busted for drugs
Some of the best-loved cast members of Grange Hill have been reunited 40 years after the much-loved children’s drama series first hit screens.
Fans were left feeling nostalgic after seeing Lee MacDonald (Zammo), Paula-Ann Bland (Claire) and Lisa York (Julie) on the This Morning sofa on Tuesday.
The trio, who were there to promote the release of series 5 on DVD, were joined by the show’s creator Phil Redmond as they reminisced about the show’s heyday.
The series broke new ground when it first crashed onto the scene in 1978, thanks to its gritty and realistic portrayal of life at a north London comprehensive, which was a world away from the more sanitised kids’ TV dramas that had gone before it.
Grange Hill stars (pictured L-R: creator Phil Redmond, Paula-Ann Bland, Lee MacDonald and Lisa York) left fans feeling nostalgic when they reunited on This Morning’s sofa today
Grange Hill, which launched the careers of a whole generation of British child stars, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year (pictured in 1981, left to right: actors Paula Taras, Lee Sparke, Erkan Mustafa, Alison Bettles, Nadia Chambers and Lee MacDonald)
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From affairs with teachers to heroin addiction, the writers didn’t fail to tackle hard-hitting issues.
The show ended its run on 15th September 2008, making it one of the longest-running series on British TV, but how did the young fast fare after shooting to fame at such an early age?
Here Femail reveals the paths some of the much loved child actors have taken decades on from their small screen stardom.
Played: Claire Scott
Actress, entrepreneur and PR boss Paula-Ann Bland played edgy Claire Scott (left) in the hit show, who had a crush on teacher Mr Hopwood. The show began its run on February 8th 1978 on BBC 1, and was one of the longest running programmes on British Television when it ended
The series one cast Grange Hill (left to right) Vincent Hall as Michael Doyle, George Armstrong as Alan Humphries, Mark Eadie as Andrew Stanton, unidentified male, Todd Carty as Tucker, unidentified female, Terry Sue Patt as Benny Green and Robert Morgan as Justin Bennett. Front (left to right) Michelle Herbert as Trisha Yates, Lyndy Brill as Cathy, Linda Slater as Susi McMahon and Ruth Davies as Penny Lewis, 1978
Paula-Ann’s edgy character Claire caused a stir by fantasising about teacher Mr Hopwood in her diary, who was then attacked by her overprotective father.
She also enjoyed a romance with Stewpot, before discovering he was seeing Annette Firman behind her back.
Because of her success on the small screen record company bosses eyed Paula-Ann as a potential ‘British Kylie’ and she even released a cover version of The Locomotion.
She left the series in 1985 and continued to act, appearing in TV series such as Spender and Only Fools and Horses.
In 1988, she caused a stir by posing topless for men’s magazine Mayfair.
During the ’90s she turned her back on acting and opened shoe shops called Paola in Knightsbridge and Chelsea before starting her own PR company.
Now aged 50, she’s a mother-of-two and is also an ambassador for the Good Grief Trust.
Played: Zammo McGuire
Lee MacDonald as Zammo (left) who was the star of one of the series’ most hard-hitting storylines when he became addicted to heroin. Now 50 (right), he runs a locksmith business and continues to appear on TV as himself on shows such as Celebrity Pointless
One of the most memorable characters on Grange Hill, Zammo (pictured) became hooked on heroin in arguably the biggest storyline on the school drama which ended in 2008
Lee MacDonald played Zammo and now runs Mentor Lock and Safe Company in Wallington, Surrey. He remains in the public eye appearing on shows such as Celebrity Scissorhands
Lee MacDonald, now 50, was the star of one of Grange Hill’s most hard-hitting storylines when his character Zammo became addicted to heroin.
As a result, he became involved in a number of anti-drugs campaigns encouraging youngsters to ‘Just Say No’.
After six years as Zammo, Lee left Grange Hill with critical acclaim for his portrayal of Zammo.
Lee had always had an interest in boxing and continued to develop his skill to a high level but unfortunately a car accident in the early 1990s left him unable to pursue the sport.
Lee has made several TV appearances since leaving Grange Hill, including an episode of The Bill in which his love interest was played by Melissa Wilkes – who also played his girlfriend Jackie Wright in Grange Hill.
Now 45 and a father, he remains in the public eye appearing as himself on shows such as Celebrity Scissorhands and Celebrity Pointless. He also runs a locksmith business in Wallington, Surrey.
Played: Julie Marchan
Actress Lisa York (left, in 1986 starring in the ‘Just Say No’ single and right, today) left the world of acting to pursue a career in the City and is a mother-of-two
Outspoken Julie Marchant was best friends with Fay Lucas, and starred on the show between 1982 and 1987.
She was to try her hand at acting thanks to her love of dancing and enjoyed a five-year romance with co-star Lee Sparke during her time on the show.
After leaving Grange Hill, she spent a stint in Australia before bagging a job in the City – but says she looks back on her time on the show with ‘fond memories’.
Now 49, the mother-of-two is a Stock Exchange worker.
Played: Peter ‘Tucker’ Jenkins
Todd Carty (pictured in his Grange Hill heyday) is well-known for his role as mischievous Tucker Jenkins and even had his own spin-off from the series which ran for three years
Actor Todd Carty, now 55, appearing on Dancing on Ice in January 2014. He went on to become a soap star and has also appeared in pantomimes as well as a stint on EastEnders
Todd Carty, 55, remains one of the show’s most famous alumni having remained on TV screens since the first series aired in 1978. His Grange Hill character was so popular, he was given his own spin-off show Tucker’s Luck from 1983 to 1985.
He then starred as Mark Fowler in EastEnders from 1990 to 2003, with a groundbreaking storyline when his character was diagnosed with HIV.
But after his departure from the square, he played away from type portraying the villainous PC Gabriel Kent in The Bill.
Plotting a deranged revenge plot on the mother who gave him away involving incest and raping a colleague, psychopathic Gabriel became a serial killer and eventually committed suicide.
As well as continuing to act on stage and screen, he’s also delved into producing and directing and made a memorable appearance on Dancing On Ice in 2009 because of his lack of flair.
Todd Carty (pictured at a memorial for late co-star Wendy Richard in London in 2009) went on to have a successful career in several television soaps, including EastEnders
Former Grange Hill star Todd Carty played Mark Fowler for 13 years (pictured at Wendy Richards’ 2009 funeral, who played his on-screen mother Pauline Fowler)
After playing nice guy Mark, Todd Carty’s next role was killer Gabriel on The Bill, left. He later went on to entertain the nation with his uncoordinated skating, right, on Dancing On Ice
His uncoordinated moves became a ratings draw and in one routine he accidentally skidded through the exit.
As well as starring in panto, he appeared on Celebrity Masterchef in 2014 and
In 2015, the actor and his eldest son James filmed a documentary, Dangerous Adventures For Boys, for Channel 5 based on the book by Conn and Hal Iggulden
Carty and his eldest son, James, filmed together in a factual television series for Channel 5, Dangerous Adventures For Boys, based on the book written by Conn and Hal Iggulden
Most recently, he appeared in the film Silver Birches in 2017 about an author struggling to rebuild his life after the untimely death of his wife.
Todd has been with his childhood sweetheart Dina Clarkin since 1990, and they have two sons James and Thomas.
Played: Robbie Wright
Actor John Alford played happy go lucky Robbie Wright between 1985 and 1991. Robbie is best remembered for his romance with Calley Donnington and his friendship with Ziggy Greaves
John Alford, pictured leaving the Court of Appeal in 2000, was jailed for supplying cocaine and cannabis. The star was, jailed for nine months after being convicted of supplying cocaine and cannabis to a bogus Arab prince
Actor John Alford, now 47, played happy go lucky Grange Hill character Robbie Wright between 1985 and 1991.
Little brother to Jaqui, Robbie is best remembered for his romance with Calley Donnington and his friendship with Ziggy Greaves.
After leaving the show, he went on to be a regular on ITV series London’s Burning playing Billy Ray.
He also enjoyed several top 40 hit singles, produced by Stock/Waterman, following his TV success.
But his fortunes turned when he was written out after being caught in a drugs sting.
John Alford outside the Old Bailey, London at the trial of Fake Sheikh Mazher Mahmood in October 2016 (Mahmood was jailed for tampering with evidence in the collapsed drugs trial of pop star Tulisa Contostavlos)
The former teenage pin-up was caught by the News Of The World’s Fake Sheikh and then served a six-week sentence after being charged.
The actor was found guilty by a jury at London’s Snaresbrook Crown Court in 1999 of one count of supplying 2.036 grams of cocaine to ‘Fake Sheikh’ Mazher Mahmood, as well as a similar charge involving 11.9 grams of cannabis resin.
He struggled to return to his previous success after being released but has had small parts since. He’s appeared in Casualty and CBBC show Mile High and had a long-term relationship with Tina Mahon who played Ronnie Birtles.
In 2016, Mahmood was found guilty of plotting to pervert the course of justice and following the case, it was suggested that up to 72 defendants in criminal cases in which he played a role could apply for convictions to be quashed.
Alford’s case was among those taken up by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Played: Bridget McClusky
Headmistress Bridget McClusky, played by Gwyneth Powell, was one of the longest standing characters in the show appearing on screen between 1981 and 1991 (pictured left, on set on Grange Hill and right, today)
Headmistress Bridget McClusky, played by Gwyneth Powell, was one of the longest standing characters in the show appearing on screen between 1981 and 1991.
The star, now aged 72, had actually trained as a teacher but never taught in the classroom, as she decided to pursue acting instead.
She previously told the BBC that she was determined to make the role more modern because she was only 35 when she took on the role.
‘At first Mrs McClusky was written as a ‘”twin set and pearls” role but I was quite young at the time and didn’t want to play it like that. We started with the clothes and she was quite fashion conscious and chic.
‘I was told by lots of people she was a great fillip to young women teachers who started applying for headships.’
After leaving Grange Hill she appeared in popular shows such as Heartbeat, A Touch of Frost and Holby City. Her most recent TV role was in an episode of Casualty in 2014.
Played: Trisha Yates
Michelle Herbert played bad girl Trisha Yates in the series but after Grange Hill quit acting for good. Michelle moved to Dundee in the 1990s after she left the popular children’s series
Michelle Herbert revealed she suffered from breast cancer after noticing a dimple in 2015. Now she campaigns to raise awareness of the lesser-known symptoms of breast cancer
Michelle played bad girl Trisha Yates in the school drama from 1978 to 1982 but after leaving Grange Hill, Michelle gave up acting and worked for a major sweet manufacturer.
She made a brief return as Trisha in the final episode of Tucker’s Luck, a Grange Hill spin-off based on Todd Carty’s character Tucker.
Michelle, now aged 53, moved to Dundee in the early 1990s to bring up her family, where she works alongside her husband running their family glazing business.
She noticed a small dimple on her breast while on holiday in Rome in May 2015.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer and following a mastectomy was given the all-clear. Now she campaigns to raise awareness of the lesser-known symptoms of breast cancer.
Played: Benny Green
Benny Green was the first character to be seen on screen when the show started. Actor Terry Sue Patt was discovered aged 14 by a talent scout while playing football in the park
Terry Sue-Patt, who played Benny, sadly died in October 2015 and was discovered in his flat by police. He was found lying face down in bed and reports suggested his body may have lain undiscovered for a month
As Benny Green, Terry Sue-Patt was the first character to ever be seen on the show and became one of the most popular characters.
He was discovered aged 14 by a talent scout while playing football in the park and enjoyed success in 1989 film The Firm, starring alongside Gary Oldman and Phil Davis.
He said: ‘I basically played myself in Grange Hill. There weren’t many black actors about on TV at that time.
‘I had a great time, getting time off school to play football. It was a bit of a dream come true, really.’
He also had minor roles in other TV shows including Desmonds, General Hospital and Jackanory.
In October 2015, Terry was sadly found dead at his London home, aged 50, following a battle with alocholism.
He was found lying face down in bed and reports suggested his body may have lain undiscovered for a month.
Todd Carty said he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the sudden death of his Grange Hill co-star. Taking to Twitter, he said: ‘Deeply saddened by the news of a dear friend Terry Sue-Patt passing away. Thoughts with his family RIP xxx.’
They played best friends Tucker Jenkins and Benny Green. The pair left the show in the early 1980s just four years after joining but remained friends throughout their careers.
Played: Fay Lucas
Alison Bettles played Fay Lucas from 1982 to 1987 in six series of the show (left). She famously took part in the Just Say No campaign (she is pictured on Loose Women in September)
After Alison Bettles’ stint as Fay Lucas (pictured), she continued acting with small roles in The Bill and No Strings in the Eighties and Nineties and last appeared on TV screens in 2001
Alison Bettles, now 49, played Fay Lucas from 1982 to 1987 in six series of the show.
Bettles was one of the cast members to take part in the famous Just Say No single, to promote an anti-drugs message after the programme’s controversial storyline with Zammo McGuire who became hooked on heroin as a child.
The single reached number five in the charts in 1986.
In 1988, Alison appeared in an EastEnders spin-off called Civvy Street, set during the second world war, playing a young Ethel Skinner.
She continued acting with small roles in The Bill and No Strings in the Eighties and Nineties and last appeared on British TV screens in London’s Burning in 2001.
Now married with four children, she is a qualified beauty therapist and has reportedly set up a freight business. Meanwhile two of her sons have followed in her acting footsteps, clinching roles in Doctor Who and EastEnders.
Played: Roland Browning
Pictured as Roland Browning, actor Erkan Mustafa was an iconic and well-loved character in the series. Fans will remember the youngster was bullied for being overweight (left). After leaving the school drama in 1987, he went on to act in two series of Chef! with Lenny Henry (Mustafa is pictured on Lorraine earlier this year, right)
Erkan Mustafa found fame in the Eighties as Roland ‘Roly’ Browning who was bullied for being obese.
He played the role for six years and became an iconic character in the series, suffering horrific bullying at the hands of Gripper Stebson.
By the time he left Grange Hill six years later, Roland was able to stand up for himself and had developed a talent for foreign languages.
After leaving the school drama in 1987, he went on to act in two series of Chef! with Lenny Henry as well as several episodes of Blackadder.
He still teams up with Lee ‘Zammo’ MacDonald for public appearances and charity events.
Erkan was also instrumental in bringing the cast back together for a 2009 reunion at Sound nightclub in London’s Leicester Square.
Now 48, he continues to act, write and direct according to his Twitter profile.
Played: Ziggy Greaves
George Christopher played Ziggy Greaves who was a scamp like original character Tucker. He now works fro a taxi firm but still acts and writes his own scripts
Popular Ziggy Greaves (played by George Christopher, left, with co-star John Alford, right on set in 1986) arrived at Grange Hill in 1986 and spent four years on the show, with his character compared to original scamp Tucker in the first series
Popular Scouser Ziggy Greaves arrived at Grange Hill in 1986 and spent four years on the show, with his character compared to original scamp Tucker in the first series.
He went on to appear in Brookside as Little Jimmy Corkhill, and is now aged 48.
George has also appeared in numerous theatre productions, including some he’s written himself and is currently working on a stage version of Papillion.
He reunited with some of his Grange Hill class mates for Channel 4’s Bring Back Grange Hill and also works for a taxi firm.
Played: Luke ‘Gonch’ Gardener
John Holmes played Luke ‘Gonch’ Gardener (pictured on set in 1985) but left acting to become a casino manager and has largely fallen off the radar since appearing on the show
Luke ‘Gonch’ Gardener stepped into the shoes of Pogo Patterson as Grange Hill’s ginger entrepreneur, joining the cast in 1985.
Always full of money making schemes, Gonch was a wheeler dealer who ran a toast bar, a dating agency, a homework service and a PE kit lending scheme all from the classroom.
In 1989, during Gonch’s last series, he fell in love with Mandy Freemont.
Actor John Holmes left the show to complete his education and studied at the University of East Anglia, where he eventually became president of the Student Union for several years.
John gave up acting after Grange Hill and now works as the manager of a casino.
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