Monday, September 05, 2005

Best Days Of Your Life

Sometimes I really do think Ian spends far too much time collating information in his head about anything and everything modern-culture-related, though every now and then you realise what a boon
this can be. For instance, without his encyclopaedic attention to detail, I would never have learned of the death a few days ago of the actor Michael Sheard. "Who?" you might ask (I did, at first). Well, he played fierce, toupee-wearing, no-nonsense disciplinarian Mr Bronson in the original cast of the BBC kids' show, Grange Hill.

It took me a while to work out which teacher it was, I actually spent a few days thinking "Bullet" Baxter had died. But I digress. Now whilst I don't have any personal feelings towards the actor himself, it has brought back fond memories of a TV show I loved and watched regularly as a kid. Grange Hill burst onto our screens in February 1978, and was set in a fictional comprehensive school (that's a high school, if you're reading this America!) in London, and was focused mainly on the lives of the 11-year-olds who had just started there. I, at the time was just about to turn 11 myself, and although not due to go to "big school" myself until the following September, I was already quietly shitting myself at the prospect, so this TV show not
only entertained me but also scared me too.

But there was no way I was switching off. GH has always been regarded as "groundbreaking" and like all things described thus, instantly courted controversy, disapproval and opprobrium from the self-appointed "guardians of the nation's morals". You see, up to that point, kids on kids TV shows usually had to be nice, well behaved and respectful of their elders; anyone that was not like this was the baddie and thus a lesson was dispensed in the "correct" way for a little boy or little girl to be. Sod that said GH, let's show kids how they really are. And so, you saw kids misbehaving, fighting, disrespecting their elders and generally doing all the things that kids do every day in every school the length and breadth of the country. And boy did people get upset. Apparently we were going to hell in a handcart, playground anarchy was being condoned and encouraged, parents shouldn't allow their kids to watch this filth, blah blah blah. I am however, proud to report that my own mum loved the show and never tried to stop me watching it (and I've turned out OK, haven't I?)

So, happy childhood memories rekindled. And funnily enough, the country didn't go to rack and ruin, civilisation didn't fall apart at the seams, and 27 years on, Grange Hill is still going strong, now a staple of BBC children's drama. Over the years, it's tackled all manner of "difficult" and "controversial" subjects - bullying, drugs, menstruation, obesity, gay teachers, disability, teen pregnancy for example and is as much loved by kids today as those of my generation. Grange Hill, I salute you!

Rather embarrassing footnote: I remember Mr Bronson as being really, really old. Possibly a dinosaur in fact. Therefore I was rather distressed to discover that on his death, Michael Sheard was only 65. So when GH first aired, he was actually the same age that I am now!!!! The shame of it.


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Mon Sep 05, 08:56:00 pm  
Blogger Gareth said...

But Mark you are old.

Tue Sep 06, 11:35:00 pm  
Blogger Dogdriller said...

If you don't shut up, I'm going to start getting Welsh-ist.

Wed Sep 07, 08:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Toby Ray said...

When I was at college I shared a house with a girl called Kate. After about 3 months she confessed to me that she used to be in Grange Hill (she didn't have lines very often). She let me try on her Grange Hill tie

Wed Sep 07, 11:02:00 pm  

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