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The Grimleys

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The Grimleys

The Grimleys
Series logo
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 22
Running time 30 minutes
Original channel ITV[1]
Original release 1999 – 2001

The Grimleys is a nostalgic comedy-drama television series set on a council estate in Dudley, West Midlands, England in the mid-1970s.[2][3] It was first broadcast by Granada TV for ITV in 1999, following a pilot in 1997, and concluded in 2001 after three series.[4]

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.[5]

The filming of the school took place in Salford, Buile Hill High, Hope High and Pendleton College, and the characters' homes were on an estate in Manchester. Later series, though, did feature on location filming in Dudley, including a scene at Dudley Zoo.


  • Premise 1
  • Episodes 2
  • Cameo appearances 3
  • Music 4
  • Home media 5
  • Continuity 6
  • Cast 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


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).[6] 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 lookalike 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.[7] 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.[8] 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 'alternative' 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 (he was impaled on a javelin), replaced in Geraldine Titley's affections by scheming, manipulative woodwork teacher Dave Trebilcock (pronounced 'Trebilco'), 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, including his brother, Darren, were dressed as punks, reflecting the change in the times. Their mother, meanwhile, had finally walked out on her slobby husband and had taken up with Neville Holder, who had now become the school's headmaster - leaving Gordon as the family's sole breadwinner. The third series suffered by comparison to the first two, and the show was cancelled afterwards.

Cameo appearances

A number of guest stars, all of them famous in the 70's, made welcome cameo appearances in most of the episodes. They included: Bamber Gascoigne as the school's headmaster; Johnny Ball as a maths teacher in another school; Michael Cronin as 'Bullet Baxter', the role that he had played in Grange Hill; William Woollard as science teacher "Mr Woollard", Ron Atkinson as an apposing football team manager, Stephen Lewis playing a coach driver very similar to his "Inspector Blakey" character in On The Buses, Jim Bowen as a militant trade union rep, Alvin Stardust as a pub landlord, and Pam Ayres playing herself as the hostess and judge of a poetry contest.


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. Holder performed an alternative Easter version of "Merry Xmas Everybody" during the episode "???", mimed "How Does It Feel?" on a piano in the episode "The Bionic Boy", and performed an acoustic version of "'Coz I Luv You" over the end credits of the Series 2 finale, "The Prime of Mr Doug Digby".

Series 3 also featured the song Jilted John by Jilted John (Graham Fellows) with its refrain "Gordon is a moron" for a punk disco scene in which the members of Blackpool punk band UFX appeared in a cameo role opposite Amanda Holden. "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" by the Buzzcocks was the theme music of series three.

Home media

Very few episodes of The Grimleys have been released for public buying.

Series 1 was released on VHS in 2000, both as a box set of the complete series and as two separate releases containing three episodes each. It was also released on a very rare DVD in 2007 although it is unknown if this DVD is official or a pirate release.

Series 2, 3 and the finale have not been released.

The pilot episode from 1997 was released on VHS in 2001, featuring a five-minute introduction to the series by Noddy Holder.

A two disc soundtrack was also released in 2000, which peaked at number 17 in the UK Compilation Chart. Another two disc soundtrack was released in 2001. The first soundtrack from 2000 focused on glam metal and pop songs from the 1970s (titled Get Down and Get With it, Here Come the Grimleys). The second soundtrack featured punk, post-punk and new wave songs from the late 1970s (titled The Official Soundtrack to the Hit TV Show The Grimleys).


1997's pilot episode feature a Grimleys logo on the opening titles never seen otherwise. Series one and two (as well as on the respective VHS releases and first soundtrack) feature a green Grimleys logo showing the letters of "Grimleys" in platform shoes, with a lava lamp taking the place of the "I". A yellow silhouette of this logo made its way onto the cover of the 2001 VHS release of the 1997 pilot episode. As Nigel Planer left the cast between series two and three, series three was given a new logo to go with its late 1970s punk concept. The new logo of The Grimleys featured the letters of the words in red on individual pieces of white paper, highly remisicent of (and most likely inspired by) how the words "Swindle" appear on the cover of The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (an album of the Sex Pistols).

Granada Productions' 1997–2001 endboard, reading simply "A Granada Production", is sometimes erroneously believed to be first used ever on the pilot episode.



  1. ^ Robert Hanks (1999-03-09). "Television Review - Arts & Entertainment". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  2. ^ Thu, 11 Mar 1999 (1999-03-11). "Ratings boost for new ITV post-10pm schedule | Archive". Marketing Week. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  3. ^ "The Grimleys | Mail Online". London: Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  4. ^ Jason Deans (2002-05-21). "The Grimleys go west | Media | MediaGuardian". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  5. ^ Belcher, David (1999-03-01). "With a flare for the past". Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  6. ^ "BBC - Comedy Guide - The Grimleys". Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  7. ^ James Rampton (1999-06-12). "Dee goes straight - Arts & Entertainment". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  8. ^ James Rampton (1999-03-06). "Still crazee now - Arts & Entertainment". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 

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