IMELDA DAVIS (1985-1987)
Imelda Davis stormed into Grange Hill in a cloud of fibre-glass, escaped frogs, cut ties and protection rackets, becoming a character who struck fear into the hearts of both her enemies and ‘friends’. Played by Fleur Taylor, Imelda lasted just under two years at Grange Hill before she was expelled and sent to a behavioural unit. Despite being unpopular amongst her peers, Imelda was hugely popular with viewers. In an exclusive interview, actress Fleur Taylor talks to Grange Hill Gold about playing the legendary bully, hairstyles, selling houses and where Imelda ended up.
What lead to you going into acting?
I really enjoyed drama at my junior school and my drama teacher planted the seed of drama school. My mum went along with the idea and allowed me to audition for a place at Italia Conti!
What roles had you played before joining Grange Hill?
Imelda was my first professional role.
Did you audition specifically for the part of Imelda?
Initially the directors came to my school and saw a number of pupils for a number of different roles. I was recalled twice to audition for the part of Imelda.
Was there any similarity between yourself and Imelda?
Did you get on well with from the cast?
I was already good friends with Samantha (Georgina) as we were at school together. My friendship with Ruth (Helen) took a few months to blossom but she is now one of my best friends. We all got on really well.
How did you get on with the adults in the cast?
We weren’t as close to the adults as we didn’t spend as much time with them but I remember that we all respected them and they really respected us too. They were all lovely.
Was Imelda’s recognisable hairstyle your own choice, or was it suggested to you?
I’d had my hair cut that way not long before auditioning. I was very much into music at that age, especially a band called ‘The Alarm’, my hair was based on the lead singer!
Imelda was a very popular character, despite not being very nice! Did you get much reaction to your character from the public?
Nothing nasty. We all got recognised when we were out which was quite difficult on occasion as it was sudden, it was very flattering though.
What was it like playing such an unpleasant character?
Great fun! I got very exciting scenes to play. If I had a choice of role, I’d always pick the baddie!
One of Grange Hill’s most remembered scenes from is Imelda putting fibre glass down the back of other pupils. What do you recall of this storyline?
I recall that was one of my first scenes and it was with George (Ziggy) who I’m still really good friends with now. At the time it was just another scene really but it’s definitely one that people speak of and remember.
Imelda was expelled after two series; would you have liked to have stayed longer and what lead to you leaving?
I was undecided about whether to leave after my first series and eventually we compromised on me doing another half series which was great as Imelda got a fantastic storyline. In hindsight, I wish I’d stayed longer….
Grange Hill won a BAFTA during the 1986 series, and for many this (and the following 3 years) are regarded as the golden era of Grange Hill. Why do you think this era was so successful?
I think there were some great characters then and some storylines that had never been covered in children’s TV before. I think the children who watched Grange Hill were immersed in it in a way that probably wouldn’t happen now. There is too much for kids to worry about now with phones and social media, watching something like Grange Hill probably wouldn’t hold the same interest now which is such a shame!
Did you enjoy being involved in the Just Say No campaign, and what are your memories of this?
Yes it was a very exciting time. I remember having great fun recording the song and video as I’d never experienced anything like that before. I don’t think any of us realised the impact it would have though.
Did you expect your role in Grange Hill to be remembered years later?
Not at all. It’s amazing how fondly Grange Hill is remembered.
What are your favourite memories from your time playing Imelda?
So many good memories – Sam, Ruth and I would sometimes laugh so much on set that it took a while to get things done! The friendships were incredible and we didn’t have to go to school much!
Do you have a favourite episode?
Probably being pushed in the pond!!
Do you have any bad memories of your time there?
What have you been doing since you left Grange Hill?
I’ve been an estate agent for over 20 years which I love. I also have 2 gorgeous sons and a fiancé to look after!
How do you look back on your time in the series?
I feel so privileged and fortunate to have been involved in something so special.
Do you keep in touch with anyone from your time on Grange Hill?
Yes, I’m in touch with quite a few of the cast. We chat on messenger and get together when we can.
Do you have a message for the Grange Hill fans out there as Grange Hill celebrates its 40th birthday?
How did we all suddenly get this old??!
What do you think Imelda Davis is doing now?
Great question – I think Imelda came good. I think she got her act together and she runs team building courses for kids. She spends her days abseiling, rafting and hiking!
© 2018 Grange Hill Gold – Not to be reproduced without permission.
Thanks to Fleur Taylor.