Grange Hill: Sir Phil Redmond Announces Movie Revival Set for 2023

Grange Hill, the gritty high school soap opera that ran on the BBC from 1978 to 2008, will be returning in 2023 as a theatrical movie. Sir Phil Redmond, the creator, producer and original showrunner, announced that after the last 15 years of fan demand, he was finally ready to pull the trigger. Grange Hill was the first gritty soap for teens that covered topics considered taboo for a children's TV show back in 1998, such as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, periods, and student-teacher relationships. "Really what the controversy boiled down to was that we were showing real kids with real working-class accents on the screen," Sir Phil said. "It wasn't particularly the issues itself, it was that we were actually changing that perception that children's television should all be Secret Garden and Enid Blyton".

Grange Hill: Sir Phil Hammond Announces Movie Revival for 2023
Cast photo from "Grange Hill", BBC

Grange Hill was a product of the gritty social realist movement in British Drama that dominated TV drama for a long time. Producers demanded political and social themes in TV drama scripts as part of the brief to educate and inform through entertainment. Sir Phil Redmond, newly knighted at the end of the last year, was the exemplar of soap operas with social agendas. He went on to create the Liverpool-based soap Brookside for Channel 4, which ran from 1982 to 2003, and Hollyoaks, the latter still going strong. The best-looking young actors and actresses in the UK tended to be cast in Hollyoaks and many of them have since moved on to bigger things, including in US shows.

Redmond said the new Grange Hill movie will be a "realistic view of what education is like now". The script, co-written by Hammond and Celyn Jones, who played English teacher Mr. Green in the TV series, involves the school coming under threat of demolition, the land it occupies being sold & the proceeds being used to build a new school, and to replenish the local cash flow. It would be about the failure of current educational policies.

As Sir Phil told The Guardian, "We've been through four school-rebuilding programmes in my lifetime, but it's not about bricks and mortar, it's about getting the best out of every pupil. How will ripping schools out of communities solve anything? Or making catchment areas so big that kids have to travel miles to be with their friends?"

Redmond said that casting will begin soon. He hopes to bring back original cast members, who originally played the kids in the show, to play parents and grandparents of the new kids now going to school.

"So we'll just take a look at the way Britain is now," Sir Phil said. "And not the way policymakers would like us to think it is. We will take a realistic view of what education is like now and what that means to kids going through it."

Redmond has been stressing the need for a British drama to be current and gritty to tackle contemporary issues again since most of it has become glossy cop shows and period dramas. "It's almost as though contemporary drama has been no-platformed in television. Drama that's really difficult has dropped back into being single dramas."

Redmond has received requests from Grange Hill fans for the last 15 years to revive it. It's not as huge as Doctor Who fandom, but it's substantial, mostly in the UK, for at least two generations of people who grew up watching the series.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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