The 8th October 2009 saw the cast of Grange Hill reunited for a huge charity event. Organised by Grange Hill legend, Erkan Mustafa (aka Roland Browning), the reunion event collected together cast from the entire 30 years of Grange Hill; giving fans from all eras of the show, the chance to meet the icons they grew up with, as well as to raise money for a great cause. GH Gold was there and now presents our guide to this amazing reunion event.
WHEN : 8th OCTOBER 2009, 9pm-3am
WHERE : Sound Nightclub, Leicester Square, London
WHAT: Grange Hill Reunion
WHY : To raise money for Loggie Bear and Cherry Lodge Cancer Care
GRANGE HILL GOLD’s EXCLUSIVE REPORT
Whatever anyone says, there was no way I was going to miss this event! Not only because it would reunite lots of the cast of Grange Hill, but also because it was all in aid of a great cause.
Was I nervous? Yes, definately. Who wouldn’t be? I was getting the chance to meet people I grew up watching on television, but I didn’t actually KNOW in person. Would they be nice? Would they mind signing autographs? Would they think all of us Grange Hill fans were weird for being interested in a TV programme from years ago?
However, it seems I needn’t have worried . . . . . .
It all began at the Thistle Hotel, Leicester Square with some fans having arranged to meet before going to the event. It wasn’t just fan s who met up though; Vincent Matthews (aka Jeremy Irvine) turned up and entertained us all by telling us the truth about filming his drowning scenes. It was great to meet Vincent, who turned out to be one of the nicest, honest and most friendly people you could meet.
As 9pm drew nearer, we headed to the club and were greeted by Erkan Mustafa (Roland Browning), the event organiser. A friendly, but highly busy, Erkan revealed that some cast had already arrived and that the legendary Mr Baxter was in the building! We also spotted Lynne Radford (Susi Young) and Colin Ridgewell (Colin Brown) arriving.
As we went into Sound, we managed to spot some of the cast chatting in a VIP area. Michael Cronin (Mr Baxter) was easy to spot due to his beard (now very white), and he was busy chatting to George Armstrong (Alan Hargreaves), Paul McCarthy (Tommy Watson) and Vinny Mann (Antoni Karramanopolis). A real early years reunion!
Slowly more cast members, and Grange Hill fans arrived. The Grange Hill cast initially kept themselves to themselves, and took some time to catch up with each other. To begin with it was confusing to see familiar faces, that you couldn’t quite recognise . . . . . . .until you realised that not everyone looks the same twenty+ years on!
Having only just flown back from New York, Michael Cronin was the first to leave about 10pm, but he willingly posed for a photo. Lots of cast were still arriving!
A trip to the toilets lead to us accidentally on purpose going on to the balcony and finally mingling with the cast. Knowing that this was going to be my only chance to meet some of these people, I thought I’d better overcome my nerves and say hello! Thank goodness I did!
Armed with a selection of pictures to be signed, the cast members I met were happy to chat and pose for photographs and were all interested to see the pictures I’d brought. It seemed that many of them were happy to be nostalgic and look back at badly styled publicity photos from years ago! Particularly interested in these pictures were the partners of several GH stars, keen to see their loved ones in embarrassing pictures!
It was great to finally meet Vinny Mann, who I’d interviewed a few years ago and chat to him in person. The same can be said of Paul McCarthy. Form-mates Simon Vaughan (Freddy Mainwaring) and Ricky Simmonds (Ant Jones), were also being very sociable; the latter of which promised to finally get round to a GH Gold interview!
Vincent Matthews was making the most of posing for photos and also bought Grange Hill Gold a drink! This was obviously a winning move!
Surprise of the night was meeting Mark Savage who played the legendary Gripper Stebson, who it turns out was far far nicer than his character ever was, and posed for plenty of photos and chatted to fans. Similarly, Fleur Taylor (Imelda Dav is) was nothing like her character and laughed when I told her she’d given me a life long phobia of fibre glass!
Lisa York and Alison Bettles were looking amazing and were there to have a great time; and did so, eventually ending up on the dance floor, alongside John Holmes who was clearly enjoying ‘throwing some shapes’.
To start with it was hard to recognise some people, particularly Sonya Kearns, who looked far more glamorous than she was ever allowed to as Chrissy on Grange Hill! Other people needed a second glance to tell who they were, whilst Rachel Roberts (Justine Dean), looked just as amazing as she did in Grange Hill. One person kept looking slightly familiar and eventually I realised it was Bradley Sheppard who played Hollo Holloway.
Bradley chatted to us, telling us lots about his reasons behind leaving Grange Hill and why he’d decided to leave, and also telling us that he’d attended the event to say ‘Thank You’ to all the fans.
A lot of the cast from the 1990s kept together, but were all willing to sign autographs. Peter Morton (Wayne Sutcliffe) was particularly friendly and came across as a really genuine guy. Margot Selby (Julie Corrigan) was keen to tell us how much she was enjoying the evening and also gave us some unprintable behind the scenes gossip!!! Francesca Martinez (Rachel Burns) was pleased to sign autographs and chat about her stand up comedy work.
A cast photo call brought most people together, though some were keen to keep a low profile and either hid at the back or sneaked away from the camera! One such person was Joanne Boakes, who played the legendary Anita Unsworth (sadly there without her gran) who seemed very shy.
Lee Macdonald (Zammo) was a late arrival and unfortunately couldn’t stay for long, but made the effort to pose for what seemed like hundreds of photos with fans.
By midnight, lots of the cast had headed home, but many of them were there to party and hit the dance-floor or headed upstairs to another floor of the club.
This finally gave event organiser, Erkan Mustafa, a chance to sit down and chat. He told us his three reasons for arranging the event were :a) to raise money for charity, b) to reunite the cast and c) to give something back to the fans who had made Grange Hill so successful. Poor Erkan had obviously been working really hard and seemed a little disappointed that several cast members who had promised to attend, had failed to show up.
Despite this though, the evening can only be judged as a success. From my own point of view, it was amazing to finally get to meet some of the cast of the show I’d watched and loved for so long. I, personally, had a really enjoyable evening, and I know there were many other people who would agree with me. On top of that, the whole event will have raised a large amount of money for a great cause.
So, thank you Erkan (and team) for all your work . . . . . . . . . .it was amazing to be a part of Grange Hill Reunited!
SO WHO EXACTLY WAS THERE?
(Asterisked names are shown in the individual photos on the gallery page. Can you match them up?!)
George Armstrong* (Alan Hargreaves), Paul McCarthy* (Tommy Watson), Vinny Mann* (Antoni Karramanopolis), Michael Cronin (Mr Baxter), Mark Savage* (Gripper Stebson), Joanne Boakes (Anita Unsworth), Erkan Mustafa* (Roland Browning), Lee Macdonald* (Zammo Maguire), Alison Bettles* (Fay Lucas), Lisa York* (Julie Marchant), Vincent Matthews* (Jeremy Irvine), Tracey Thomas (Anna Johnson), Bradley Sheppard* (Paul ‘Hollo’ Holloway), John Holmes* (Gonch Gardener), Fleur Taylor* (Imelda Davis), Sara McGlasson (Julia Glover), Fiona Lee-Fraser (Laura Reagan), Ricky Simmonds (Ant Jones), Simon Vaughan (Freddy Mainwaring), Joshua Fenton (Mauler McCaul), Rachel Roberts* (Justine Dean), Sonya Kearns* (Chrissie Mainwaring), Lynne Radford (Susi Young), Rebekah Gilgan (Fran Williams), Margo Selby (Julie Corrigan)*, Ian Rushmere (Brian Shaw), Francessca Martinez (Rachel Burns), Aiden J David (Arnie Arnold), Marcel McCalla (Nathan Charles), Colin Brown (Colin Ridgwell), Peter Morton (Wayne Sutcliffe), Kelly George (Ray Haynes) and Abigail Hart (Paula Webster).