diamond geezer

 Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nice lads like Zammo don't take heroin. Or so we thought, until that shocking teatime when he appeared slumped in the toilets round the back of an amusement arcade. Poor old Roland just hadn't spotted the clues. Gaunt faced-youth popping in at all hours. Mysterious demands for instant cash. Feeble excuses about needing to buy a bike. And then it all ended so unpleasantly, after hours, spilled out across the floor by the sinks. To those of us of a certain age in 1986, this was shocking stuff. And now it's "culture".

Last night, 25 years on, the British Film Institute screened that particular classic episode of Grange Hill to a paying audience. They're running a short season of 80s children's TV drama, based particularly around the series Dramarama (no, me neither), and on this occasion threw their net a little wider. That episode of Grange Hill, the first ever episode of Press Gang, and a one-off Dramarama piece. An audience of mostly thirty-somethings turned up. And oh yes, so did some of the stars.

That's Lee MacDonald that is, sitting on the edge of the stage with a smile. He looks just like he used to, only 42, and without any dodgy gear scattered across his lap. And next to him that's Erkan Mustafa, who doesn't look at all how you think you remember him until he starts speaking, and then he couldn't be anyone else. Zammo and Ro-land, two classic characters from my (late) childhood, here to introduce their seminal episode. Unfortunately no sign of Jackie or Janet, but you can't have everything.

The sausage in the opening titles earned a giggle. And then we were into the drama, setting the scene at the arcade, plus a parallel story about two girls sneaking out to an all night party. Nothing from the school itself, this was one of those set piece episodes taking the drama elsewhere, reflecting society outside. The party tale hadn't dated well, with the girls swanning around like they wanted to be in Dynasty but had been kitted out at Miss Selfridge. Their parents bickered unconvincingly, as the script demanded, but with an unspoken menace which suggested there was a child-beating scenario around the corner. Always one for slipping in the controversial where you least expected it, was GH.

Lee remembered how the producers had first proposed his smackhead storyline, and checked up front that his parents were OK with it. How he'd gone to rehabilitation centres to learn some background for the role, and how he never sang on the "Just Say No" record because he's tone deaf. How he's getting back into acting again and has a couple of films coming up. And how he'd not seen this particular episode for at least 15 years, but still can't get through a day without someone reminding him of his Zammo heritage. Erkan meanwhile reassured us that going to the White House was indeed a big thing, and that yes he has met up with the lovely Janet since.

Next up was Press Gang, from the very beginning, as lead writer Stephen Moffat established the characters he'd lead through the following five series. A ridiculous premise, as if any local newspaper would ever staff a junior version with unstable adolescents - indeed almost as ridiculous as ITV ever making another children's drama aimed at 17 year-olds. I hadn't seen the show before (I was out at work by 1989) but I am forever being told that I look like that bloke out of Press Gang, so it was useful to check. Tightly plotted, nicely rounded, and full of actors who were destined to go on to bigger things. Like that Dexter Fletcher, for example, and good grief he was here in the auditorium in person too. With a shock of hair resembling Medusa, he gabbled happily about the good times and how everyone now thinks he's American even though it's only an accent he put on for the series.

Three children's television legends for a fiver - you don't get that sort of special offer every day. And a three-part retrospective placing youth screen culture in a historical context - how very South Bank was that? Keep your eyes open for other intriguing video screenings at the British Film Institute - you never know when they'll choose to indulge the TV generation again.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this month?
28 Jan – 23 Apr (10am-4.30pm)
Sussex Modernism
The sixth annual exhibition at Two Temple Place focuses on radical art/writing in Sussex, and is damned excellent.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Feb17  Jan17
Dec16 Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards