The Grimleys

The Grimleys

"The Grimleys" is a nostalgic comedy-drama television series set on a council estate in Dudley, West Midlands, England in the mid-1970s. It was first broadcast by Granada TV for ITV in 1999, following a pilot in 1997, and concluded in 2001 after three series.

The show was written by Jed Mercurio, who had trained as a doctor and whose first series, "Cardiac Arrest" - written under the pseudonym 'John MacUre' - had attracted critical plaudits for its dark portrayal of life in a disintegrating British National Health Service.

The filming of the school took place in Salford, Buile Hill High, Hope High and Pendleton College, although the filming of the characters' homes actually took place some 80 miles away in the Dudley area itself; around Parkes Hall Road on the Dudley-Sedgley border.


"The Grimleys" follows the ups and downs of the dysfunctional Grimley family and their struggle with everyday life. Gordon Grimley, played by James Bradshaw, is an intellectual but feeble schoolboy who has a crush on his teacher, Miss Geraldine Titley, played by Amanda Holden (Samantha Janus in the pilot). His younger brother Darren, played by Ryan Cartwright who also narrates the storyline and set the scene, although fond of Gordon and sympathetic to his unrequited love for Miss Titley, is frustrated by his brother's fey personality and nickname of 'The School Spanner'. Father Baz Grimley, played by former "Young Ones" actor Nigel Planer, was a bone-idle British Leyland car worker, who injured his back on his first day at the Longbridge plant and went on strike on the second. He had not moved from his armchair since then and spends his days watching television (ITV only). He is particularly infuriated by son Gordon's artistic leanings and was determined that he should do 'a man's job' rather than go to university. Hard working mum Janet Grimley was played by impressionist Jan Ravens.

Other domestic characters are older sister Lisa Grimley, played by Corrieann Fletcher, and Nan, played by Barbara Keogh, who seem to be obsessed with 'The Grimley Curse'. Next door neighbours were the Titley family headed by father Reg Titley, played by Paul Angelis, who was a plumber, the aforementioned Geraldine (his niece) who worked as an English teacher at Gordon's school, and the object of his lust, and son Shane (played by Simon Lowe), a Bay City Roller look-a-like and self-styled ladies man complete with a clapped out Vauxhall Viva car.

To complicate matters further, Shane was dating Lisa Grimley, and Janet Grimley and Reg Titley obviously carried a torch for one another. Reg's sensitivity and surprisingly poetic tongue gave rise to the question of Gordon Grimley's parentage, as does Shane Titley's oafish behaviour and idolisation of armchair bound slob Baz Grimley.

Many of the scenes were set in the Grimley brothers' school where we met their sadistic P.E teacher Doug "Dynamo" Digby, played by comedian Brian Conley (Jack Dee in the pilot), who lived in a corner of the school gymnasium. Doug always took both pride and pleasure in bullying his pupils, and in one episode we are given a clue to the development of this behaviour when his thuggish father, played by Lewis Collins from hit 1970s crime drama 'The Professionals', visits him. He was dating Geraldine Titley much to Gordon Grimley's chagrin, this leading to increasing tensions between them. Naturally Gordon was always going to come off worst and this rivalry lead to ever more vindictive (and bizarre) punishments meted out by Digby. An Amazonian gym mistress called Miss Thing was played by Ruby Snape.

The show also starred former Slade singer Noddy Holder, who played music teacher Neville Holder (Noddy's birth name), and a number of inspired cameos including 1970s glam rock singer Alvin Stardust as a pub landlord. This led to a series of clever 'in jokes' such as Noddy and Alvin be-moaning the lost opportunities of their youth over a pint of beer, and the character played by the one time glam-rocker lead singer of Slade being described as "not exactly Mr. Rock 'n' Roll". As implied by the title of the second episode, The Road Not Taken (which ends with Holder mournfully strumming out a Slade song in the school hall), the implication was that The Grimleys took place in an 'alternate' 1970s where Holder and his friend had abandoned their rock dreams in favour of more sensible jobs long before they became famous.


Series one and two featured the same regular cast and ran in a continuous time frame, whereas series three was set later in the 1970s. Doug Digby's character was killed off in a gymnasium accident in the first episode, replaced in Geraldine Titley's affections by scheming, manipulative woodwork teacher Dave Trebilcock, played by Craig Kelly, and, of course, as Gordon Grimley's nemesis. Geraldine had spent the time between Series Two and Series Three in a coma, which allowed the series to shift its focus from the glam rock era to the punk era. Gordon was by now working as a trainee teacher at the school where he was bullied and insulted by the pupils, many of whom were dressed as punks, reflecting the change in the times. The third series suffered by comparison to the first two, and the show was cancelled afterwards.


The theme music of the first series was "Bye Bye Baby" by the Bay City Rollers over the title credits and varied between "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" and "Cum on Feel the Noize" by Slade over the end credits. Noddy Holder performed a 'live' acoustic version of "Cum on Feel the Noize" over the end credits of the episode "The Road Not Taken"

In the second series, the end title credits varied between "Cum on Feel the Noize", "How Does It Feel?" and "Everyday" by Slade. Noddy Holder performed an alternative Easter version of "Merry Xmas Everybody" during the episode "???", mimes "How Does It Feel" on a piano in the episode "The Bionic Boy" and also performed an acoustic version of "Coz I Luv You" over the end credits of the Series 2 finale "The Prime Of Mr Doug Digby".

In the third series, the theme tune was changed to "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)", the 1978 song written by Pete Shelley and performed by his group, Buzzcocks.

External links

*imdb title|id=0187643|title=The Grimleys

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