Phil Redmond is the man behind Grange Hill. It was his initial creation and Phil has maintained close links with the series ever since it began. Phil’s other television successes include Brookside, Hollyoaks and Waterfront Beat. In 2002, Phil’s own Mersey TV took over production of Grange Hill for the BBC.
This interview with Phil Redmond was originally published in the now defunct Cult TV Magazine in 1998.
How did Grange Hill happen?
I went round all the major ITV companies and none of them would do it because of the cost. In those days it meant going out on film in order to show plenty of the actual school, which was expensive. They came up with useless excuses like ‘kids wouldn’t watch other kids’, but it was really all about cost. And then I saw Anna Home, who was executive producer of drama. Right person, right time really. She was looking to do a school series. She literally opened a drawer and pulled out a folder that had ‘SCHOOL?’ written on it.
How were your own schooldays?
I was one of the first to go through the comprehensive system. There were 2,000 boys in our school, so it was a bit like being in the State Pen. Obviously, a lot of the Grange Hill characters and situations are based on my own schooldays in some shape or form.
Did you fancy yourself as the Tucker Jenkins figure?
Oh no. I imagined him completely – and Todd Carty was perfect. A bit of a scruff with a slightly angelic glint in his eye.
Why do you think it worked so well?
It’s about school – something everyone has to face in one shape or form. I always thought that television could do more for children than tame things like ‘Robin Hood’, or endless period dramas. It also needed to do more for the working class comprehensive school kids.
Looking back, I’m very pleased with how it’s stood the test of time. I think all the storylines and issues are perennials – bullying, relationships . . . we even covered underage drinking.
If you were starting the show now, how would you approach it?
I’d take the original nine scripts down off the shelf, upgrade the language and fashions, and update the teaching and lesson titles. I understand it’s all over for ‘technical drawing’.
This website is dedicated to celebrating the results of Phil’s initial vision for Grange Hill.