Bring Back Grange Hill, Channel 4

by | May 10, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

Justin Lee Collins tracks down the teenagers who altered the perspective on drugs for a whole gullible generation to perform their evocative “top five” hit Just Say No.

What to say if you didn’t like it

Justin Lee Collins sets about resurrecting an even more irritating and humiliating teenage rite of passage than nits and puberty.

What was good about it?

• The format was a skillful parody of VH1’s Bands Reunited even down to Justin Lee Collins aping Aamer Haleem’s rather annoying tendency to demand to shake the hand of everyone whom he meets like a breathless astronaut snatching at oxygen, and getting the long lost star to sign an album to “seal” their agreement to perform their hit (although in this case it was the “Official” Grange Hill Annual – a title that suggests there was once a fruitful black market in counterfeit Grange Hill merchandise).

• The clips of all the old favourite characters such as Mr Baxter the irascible PE teacher.

• Erkan Mustapha revealing the advert he answered to audition for the part of Ro-land Browning essentially said “fat child needed for Grange Hill.”

• Lee Macdonald (Zammo Maguire) may look like he’s been pumped up like an over-inflated rugby ball, but he seems to have remained level-headed and likable as he earns a living as a key cutter.

• Lee Macdonald disclosing the disappointment of the record company executives when he showed them he couldn’t sing (Ro-Land sang his bit), or dance and ultimately had to be shown in the video doing weight training.

• As Justin Lee Collins concentrated on getting only the six principle characters to attend the reunion performance, of whom four turned up, the prospect was for an anaemic, mumbled spectacle. But out of nowhere, six or seven peripheral characters appeared such as Banksie, Julie Marchant and Ronnie Birtles which meant they could all mime in crowded anonymity.

• JLC dubbing Nancy Reagan as “the patron saint of smack”

What was bad about it?

• Edwina Currie’s opinion – even the eternal silence of a dead universe is more insightful and endearing than her guileless gob.

• In a comedy arena Justin Lee Collins’ excitable, exclamatory tone is a virtue, but it became a burden spread over an hour of him walking down busy roads, avoiding traffic and approaching the workplaces/hang outs of the former Grange Hill actors.

• The technique of filming the film crew is a corpulent indulgence that has evolved unnecessarily in this age of reality TV.

• Justin Lee Collins referring to Erkan Mustapha as “the Browning” as though such an irrelevant element of British culture was worthy of two distinct sobriquets, with Ro-Land being the other.

• Just Say No was originally the anti-drugs anthem in America which the kids from Grange Hill adopted and made their own before taking it back to the States.

• Just Say No was and still is an utterly dreadful single (even those at who love a cheesy tune concur with that statement) and a thousand ironic School Discos will not alter that fact. But the worst verse was Mmloki Chrystie’s rap.

• Mmloki Chrystie’s rather pointless “authored” film in which he stated how he was stoned when making a pledge never to take drugs on a baseball pitcher’s mound in half-full stadium.

• The crowd at School Disco where the cast performed Just Say No, immediately after the idiots were joyously dancing to Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody – they couldn’t have acted more shamefully even if they were “ironically” dressed in SS uniforms.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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