Grange Hill creator details hidden meaning behind why BBC changed iconic school name

Grange Hill creator details hidden meaning behind why BBC changed iconic school name

August 15, 2022

Nicholas Donnelly stars as Mr MacKenzie in Grange Hill in 1988

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Grange Hill was originally produced by the BBC and portrayed the life of children in a typical London comprehensive school. The show first aired on February 8, 1978, and was one of the longest-running programmes on TV before it ended on September 15, 2008. Despite its success, the show could have gone down a different route if creator Sir Philip Redmond got his own way.

After its first episode, the show regularly attracted audiences of up to 12 million during its 30-year run, with the programme’s cast becoming household names.

However, Sir Philip has opened up about the hit BBC series and how it was meant to have a different name.

The TV producer and screenwriter explained that the show was originally meant to be called Grange Park before the show first aired.

But, the BBC legal team suggested the name change after they deemed it “too legally sensitive” after a number of schools had the same name.

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At the time, the BBC were concerned that they would be flooded with complaints from parents and teachers from the surrounding schools, and that they were going to be slandered in the show.

However, Sir Phillip had made it quite clear that he preferred Grange Hill’s original title, and wasn’t happy about the change.

“It was called Grange Park because that’s an area I worked in St Helens,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

“I can’t remember if there were too many schools called Grange Park, or whether there were too few, but the legal department said, ‘we’ll have everybody complaining, so we need to change it’.”

The successful series was popular for tackling storylines such as racism, shoplifting and addiction.

Despite the show first airing 44 years ago, cast members often stay in contact with one another.

Last month Lee MacDonald, Zammo McGuire, reunited with his co-stars Todd Carty, Simone Nylander, and Erkan Mustafa.

Taking to his Twitter account, Lee posted an image and captioned it: “Mini #grangehill reunion with Tucker, Roland and Janet x.”

It came ahead of a special episode of the Reunion on BBC Radio with the cast of Grange Hill that aired on Sunday (August 14).

Todd Carty, 57, who played hit character Tucker Jenkins, remains one of the show’s most famous actors, having remained on TV screens since the first series aired in 1978.

Todd also starred as Mark Fowler in EastEnders from 1990 to 2003, with a groundbreaking storyline when his character was diagnosed with HIV.

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.

During the recent reunion, Todd and the cast opened up about how the show changed their life.

He explained: “The day before, nobody knew who you were, come the [day] after it, bang, it went crazy for all of us, for every single member of the cast.

“From normal [life] playing football in the park, going to the cinema, it changed for every single one of us.”

Susan Tully (Suzanne Ross) added during the reunion: “I’ve got a memory of walking down… one of the corridors in the production offices and seeing the big grey Royal Mail sacks, and somebody pointed out that one of those was just for Todd.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the BBC for a comment. 

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