While looking for one thing, I found another (it’s always the way). Shut away for years and years were the TV scrapbooks I started back in secondary school. There was my name, scrawled on the front alongside a big picture of the logo of The Jam (the grafitti-styled one from their first album In The City). I also scribbled The Beat and UB40 (this was back when they were good) in black felt tip. But the raison être of the scrapbooks was to document my TV viewing. I cut out all the programmes I watched from the TV and Radio Times and newspapers (I was obsessed with Cheers (as detailed in this previous blog entry) so that featured heavily.
Tucked away inside is this little gem. Hope you can make it out: It’s the Radio Times listing for the very first episode of Tucker’s Luck, broadcast way back in 1983. The one and only spin off from classic BBC drama Grange Hill ran for 3 series, purely to please and appease Tucker-starved fans who couldn’t get enough of Grange Hill’s lovable rogue. So why all the Grange Hill talk? Firstly, Christmas came early for obsessives with the November release of two boxsets: Grange Hill Series 1 & 2 and Grange Hill Series 3 & 4. At last! At long last! Secondly, it’s the 30th anniversary of the series next February (flippin’ ‘eck Tucker! I feel old) and it’s only fitting that we celebrate it in style here on MSN. Stay tuned for more…
A very nice lady at BBC Worldwide sent me the boxsets and I spent the entire weekend watching them. If you’re the kind of person that lives for DVD extras, you won’t find much here. In addition, there are no subtitles which cuts out a huge chunk of the hearing impaired market (how did that happen BBC?). The other point to note is that due to contractual reasons, certain music edits have been made; par for the course with DVD releases of shows from a certain era, I’m afraid (incidentally, if you know exactly what’s been cut, please get in touch as my memory is not what it was). Other than that, it’s all here – all those fab memories unleashed again.
Tucker and Trisha Yates’ feud. Benny’s football boots. Mr Mitchell and Mr Sutcliffe. The swimming pool episode. Doyle’s arrival. Simon Shaw’s dyslexia. ‘Bullet’ Baxter. Madelin Tanner and Cathy Hargreaves going ‘on the nick’. SAG and the school uniform protest. The field trip. Brookdale v Grange Hill. Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. The arrival of Pogo Patterson, Duane Orpington, Mrs McClusky and ‘Hoppy’ Hopwood. Alan teaching Susi judo. Antoni Karamanopolis’ death. Evil Mr Hicks and psycho Booga Benson.
Watching with older eyes, it’s easy to see why Tucker Jenkins became such a phenomenon. A brilliantly-rounded character, he was magnificently played by the young Todd Carty who will probably never better that role (EastEnders’ Mark Fowler doesn’t compare and don’t get me started on PC Kent in The Bill). A bona fide natural, Todd Carty acted everyone else off the screen.
The writing is only occasionally clunky (come on, it was kids TV in the 1970s), but overall scripts and storylines are first-class and some scenarios still strike a chord. It’s soooo strange to hear antiquated and/or non-PC race terms again on TV: ‘coloured girl’, ‘golly’, ‘n*g n*g’, ‘half-caste’ etc. Did I mention that I’m glad those words weren’t cut out? That was the reality back then for hundreds of thousands of kids like me. It’s the innocence that’s the real eye-opener: kids nicking dinner money and rival school blazers when nowadays, they’re shooting and stabbing each other. From the golden age of UK kids TV, Grange Hill is excellent entertainment and if you do nothing else this Christmas, buy these fantastic boxsets. Altogether now: "Leave it aaht!" "Leg it, Bullet’s coming!" "Nutjob!" "Flippin’ ‘eck Tucker!"
Today I am mostly hatin’ – That Post Office broadband advert featuring Westlife makes me want to take a hammer to my TV. I’d rather slam my tongue in a door than see it again – less painful.
MSN Editor Coops