|Since GH Online began in 2000, one of the most common questions
in our mailbox was, is Grange Hill available to buy on video or DVD.
We had no choice other than to inform disappointed fans that no it
wasn't. The only prior Grange Hill video release - two VHS compilations
from Series 1 and 2 in the 1980s - had long since been deleted.
But as Grange Hill approaches its 30th anniversary, we finally
have some good news! BBC Worldwide has released the first four series
of Grange Hill, originally shown between 1978 and 1981, as two twin
DVD box sets. These became available on 12
November 2007. It is the the first time any Grange Hill series
have been released in their entirety and brings to an end years
of campaigning by fans. So, what's on the DVDs?
HILL: THE COMPLETE SERIES 1 and 2
Cat No: BBCDVD 2408 (5 discs)
On Wednesday 8 February 1978, children's TV changed forever with the
first, nine-part series of Grange Hill. This first series was very
much an experiment; would children want to come home from a hard day
at school and watch a programme about - being at school? Even the
young cast thought they were on "a hiding to nothing", to
quote Robert Craig Morgan who played Justin Bennett. But the BBC needn't
have worried. Young fans warmed to, and identified with the rough-and-ready
scamps such as Tucker Jenkins and Trisha Yates, class spods Judy Preston
and Justin Bennett, and the mischief they all caused when teachers
Series 1 was very much an establisher and concentrated more on
school-based adventure. Not until the second series - doubled in
length to 18 episodes and a twice-weekly format - did Grange Hill
win its reputation as a series which dealt with real issues. And
what issues they were - a militant band of fifth formers (SAG) prepared
to do whatever was necessary in their quest to abolish school uniform
(and in doing so caused debate in Parliament), a prowler apparently
targetting female pupils, dyslexia, the home lives of the pupils
All 27 episodes of Series 1 and 2 are available on a five-disc box
set. Click here to
HILL: THE COMPLETE SERIES 3 and 4
Cat No: BBCDVD 2453 (6 discs)
Now established as a national institution, Grange Hill began its third
series in 1980. And there were changes afoot for the new run. Grange
Hill welcomed new first years Pogo, Duane and others and we now followed
their exploits as well as those of Tucker and co, now in the third
year. There was also a new addition to the staffroom who would gain
national notoriety much later in his career. Coronation Street killer
Brian Capron played Mr Hopwood, a tough-but-fair woodwork master
whose handsome looks made him the object of several female crushes.
There were no major changes to the line-up in Grange Hill's fourth
series, apart from one - the arrival of the iconic headmistress
Mrs McClusky - but the series reached new depths of realism
as we were finally introduced to psychotic school prefect Booga
Benson and also Gripper Stebson. Benson was responsible
for reckless wanton vandalism to the school toilets and, when Tucker
dared to grass him up, he was severely beaten. Another famous episode
saw Stewpot Stewart have to overcome a violent swimming master and
the school go into a frenzy over medical examinations.
All 34 episodes of Series 3 and 4 (there were just 16 in Series
3) are available on a six-disc box set. Click
here to order.
* The order links here take you to the BBC Shop. However, other
online retail outlets are available, so shop around for the best
WHY BUY THE BOX SETS?
There are a number of very good reasons to buy official Grange Hill
- The best possible technical quality. Grange Hill episodes
have been "doing the rounds" on the collectors' circuit
for years but most of these will be home video recordings from the
1990s re-runs. Some are likely to be several generations down. Also,
many of the episodes recorded during the last BBC re-run will be
minus full end credits, as the practice of "credit squeezing"
was becoming popular with CBBC at the time.
- You pay a very good price for four series. It pays to
shop around - various online retailers are offering discounts for
pre-ordering, in some cases the Series 3 and 4 box set can be obtained
for as little as £25. What you are getting for that money
is 34 complete episodes of Grange Hill, which we think is extremely
- Supporting official Grange Hill DVDs makes it more likely
that later series will be released. Illegal sales of later Grange
Hill programmes are a regular listing on a certain internet auction
website but anyone foolish enough to buy these will probably end
up with a poor quality product, possibly several VHS generations
down, and the seller will probably charge extortionate amounts to
line his own pocket. Which is not only highly illegal but it's also
a very serious breach of BBC copyright. True fans of Grange
Hill have campaigned for years for official DVDs, and now that we
finally have them, future releases depend on adequate sales.
Go here to read a review of
the Grange Hill DVDs by Chris Reilly.
On the final disc of each box set, you can take The Grange Hill
Quiz, testing your knowledge of the episodes you have seen.
It's one of the most crushing statements to find when you've bought
a DVD - "For contractual reasons, certain edits have been made".
The most common reason for such edits are music clearance issues;
and this has proven to be the case with the Grange Hill discs. In
Series 2, edits have been necessary to remove chart hits
playing on any radios in the background - a scene with two girls
dancing to Boney M's Daddy Cool in episode 10 has had to
be removed. Other edits to Series 2 have also been necessary to
obscure other music which could not be cleared. There is one further
edit to Series 4 to remove a Madness track playing in the
background when Cathy's band go to their gig.
Other than that, all episodes are as originally broadcast.
WILL THERE BE MORE GRANGE HILL DVDS?
At this stage we simply don't know. Market forces will ultimately
determine whether later series are released, so the BBC will need
to sell a reasonable quantity of the two box sets to justify releasing
any more. Your full support of the Series 1 and 2 and Series 3 and
4 box sets will make the likelihood of any more all the greater,
so get out and buy them!