Grange Hill creator Sir Phil Redmond has announced his long-running BBC TV school drama series is returning as a film, which will reflect the realities of the modern-day classroom.
The series, which ran for 30 years, is set to hit the big screen in 2023.
Sir Phil revealed on BBC Breakfast that casting and production would begin this year.
Some old characters may return, but the film will focus on a “realistic view of what education is like now,” according to him.
When asked about his plans for the film, he stated: “You just go out as honestly as you can and try to reflect society as it is, to be as truthful as you can within the confines of fiction, and to do proper research.
“Working with great young teams to actually deliver the vision is something I’ve always done.
“So we’ll just look at how Britain is now, not how policymakers would like us to believe it is. We will take a realistic look at what education is like today and what it means to the students who are enrolled in it.”
Grange Hill aired on television from 1978 to 2008, tackling topics that were considered taboo for a children’s television show at the time, such as drug addiction, adolescent pregnancy, periods, and student-teacher relationships.
“Really, the controversy boiled down to the fact that we were showing real kids with real working-class accents on the screen,” Sir Phil continued.
“It wasn’t so much the issues themselves as it was the fact that we were changing the perception that children’s television should all be Secret Garden and Enid Blyton.”
Sir Phil, who was knighted last month, called for more gritty storylines in soaps. Following his award, the Merseyside-born screenwriter criticised modern “comfortable, non-contentious” programming, stating that soaps needed to “address the real social issues.”
Open auditions for the Grange Hill reboot will begin soon, and one of the show’s former stars, Lee MacDonald, who played Zammo on the show, has told the BBC that he “would love to do it.”
His well-known character made headlines for his heroin addiction. “The transformation from his happy-go-lucky Zammo character to stealing from [his friend] Roland and licking drugs off the floor in one of the final scenes was horrific,” he said.
“So on the back of that, we got to sing Just Say No in the White House,” he added, referring to the show’s anti-drugs single, which US First Lady Nancy Reagan invited them over to perform in 1986.
“How cool is that?!
Back in 2006 the Liverpool Echo reported that Sir Phil had a Grange Hill film in the pipeline, and he told the paper at the time he had been thinking about the idea for two years, and had written a script with the hope of the film being released in 2007.
Sir Phil co-wrote the 2022 version with Celyn Jones, who played English teacher Mr Green in the TV show.
Grange Hill, Jones joked, was like “the Bat signal that he [Sir Phil] couldn’t ignore from Wayne Manor any longer.”
They are unsure whether it will be released in theatres or on streaming, but they are hoping for the former.
A hint of a Brookside reunion
Sir Phil, who also created Hollyoaks and Brookside, stated that he has received numerous offers from his other acting friends. “All the old Brookie crew and Hollyoaks gang have said they’d love to be in it,” he added. “So who knows if we’ll do Grange Hill this year, maybe Brookie next, and Hollyoaks the year after that.”
Brookside, the Liverpool-based soap that ran from 1982 to 2003 and famously featured one of the first lesbian kisses on primetime British TV, could be next in line for a revival, he hinted.
“At this point, we couldn’t possibly say,” he said. “How about celebrating its 40th anniversary later this year?”
“The whole world seems to be going back to the 1980s, so why not?” he continued.