|Created by||Adele Rose |
|Theme music composer||Kane Gang|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||18|
|No. of episodes||344|
|Executive producers||Andrea Wonfor (1989–90)|
Ian Squires (1990–92)
Ivan Rendall (1992–95)
Matthew Robinson (1995–97)
|Producers||Matthew Robinson (1989–95)|
Helen Gregory (1995–97)
Stephen McAteer (1997–99)
Morag Bain (1999–01)
Edward Pugh (2002–05)
Tim Holloway (2006)
|Production location||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Original network||BBC One (1989–2006)|
|Picture format||4:3 (1989–2000)|
|Original release||8 November 1989 –|
10 December 2006
Byker Grove is a British teen drama and coming of age television series which aired between 1989 and 2006 as part of CBBC on BBC One. Set and filmed in Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, it was created by writer Adele Rose and executive producer Andrea Wonfor. The show was broadcast at 5:10pm after Newsround (later moved to 5pm). It was aimed at an older teenager and young adult audience, tackling serious and sometimes controversial storylines. The show is notable for depicting the first gay kiss on children’s television, as well as its breach of the fourth wall in the final series.
The show ran between 1989 and 2006, and was set in a youth club in the Byker district of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. In 1987, Wonfor approached soap writer Adele Rose. Together they created a single pilot episode featuring children aged 8–11 at an out-of-school club (transmitted on BBC in 1988). In autumn 1988, Wonfor gained the backing of Anna Home, then Head of the Children's Department at BBC Television. Home gave the go ahead for a run of a series of six 25-minute episodes to be broadcast by the BBC. The age of the main characters was raised to 12–16 after support from first producer-director, Matthew Robinson. The first series centred on young teenagers crossing the bridge from childhood to adulthood.
Byker Grove was not filmed in the Byker area of Newcastle. The actual youth club set was in Benwell, which is in the west area of the city, Byker being in the east. Byker Metro station (the suburban rail network in Newcastle and the Tyne and Wear area) and other landmarks in the real Byker (such as the Byker Wall and surrounding estate) were used for filming backdrops.
The youth club building seen on-screen is The Mitre, which used to be a nightclub and a pub (which was mentioned in a few storylines from episodes in the late 1990s). After the success of the first series (6 episodes, 1989), The Mitre was bought by the BBC's London property department, which then granted Zenith Television a permanent licence to film the series there.
Scenes representing Denwell Burn Youth Club for Series 15 were filmed at Raby Street Youth Club, in the buildings next to Byker Primary School. This is the real youth club for the children of Byker.
Byker Grove launched the careers of Anthony McPartlin ("P.J.") and Declan Donnelly ("Duncan"), who are otherwise known as Ant & Dec, as well as the actress Jill Halfpenny, Donna Air, former CBBC presenter Andrew Hayden-Smith and Emmerdale actors Dale Meeks, Charlie Hardwick, Chelsea Halfpenny, Laura Norton and Victoria Hawkins. Also appearing in the series was the now glamour model Francoise Boufhal ("Ellie Baines") and Charlie Hunnam, who later starred in the American TV series Sons of Anarchy and co-starred in Pacific Rim (2013).
The cast and crew from the first 10 years of the show held their first reunion on 19 May 2012 in the Quayside area of Newcastle upon Tyne and on a river boat cruise. The party guests included Ant and Dec, Donna Air, Charlie Hardwick and Andrew Hayden-Smith.
The founder producer/director (1989–95) was Matthew Robinson. After being promoted to become executive producer of Byker Grove for two years (1995–97), he became executive producer of EastEnders, then Head of Drama for BBC Wales, and now runs Khmer Mekong Films in Cambodia. Byker Grove was also home to writers such as Catherine Johnson (who went on to pen Mamma Mia!, the ABBA musical) and Matthew Graham (This Life, Doctor Who and co-creator of BBC One's Life on Mars). The first writer was Adele Rose–in Series 1 she wrote episodes 1–4 and 6; her daughter, Carrie Rose, wrote episode 5. The most prolific writer was Brian B. Thompson, who wrote 50 episodes over 12 series. Byker Grove gave Academy Award-winning director Tom Hooper his first break into TV drama when he directed four episodes in 1997.
Byker Grove was not intended for young children, but aimed at a young adult and teenage audience, as it tackled controversial subjects such as drug addiction, child abuse, homelessness, teen pregnancy, homophobia, and abortion. Although some of the action took place outside the youth club, the series was unusual among dramas in that the characters were rarely shown in school. One of the major settings was the foster home run by the kindly but strict Lou Gallagher, the longest-running character.
In November 1994, Byker Grove featured the first gay kiss on UK children's television. It broached the subject of "coming out" when Noddy Fishwick kissed his close friend Gary Hendrix at the back of a cinema. This scene caused outrage in the British tabloids and calls for producer Matthew Robinson to be sacked. However, the BBC strongly backed the storyline, which received countrywide support from gay teenagers, many teachers, and parents. The 2004 series saw the character of Bradley agonising over his sexuality and eventually coming out as gay to his girlfriend Sadie, after a romantic holiday together had failed to live up to their expectations.
The series frequently depicted life as unjust, with bad things happening to good people, such as Flora's death from a brain tumour, Greg's fall from the roof of the Grove which left him paralysed from the waist down, Jemma Dobson being electrocuted by a faulty electricity mains socket and youth leader Geoff Keegan's death in an accidental gas explosion after 11 years on the show.
Byker Grove frequently confronted viewers with repercussions for the characters' actions, often permanent. These ranged from the comical to the tragic; characters who stole and joy-rode cars often died in them, starting with Gill, and ultimately Craig running over Ben Carter. P.J. was blinded during an illicit and unsupervised paintballing session, in which he ignored warnings and removed his face guard, in a scene filmed on location at Aydon Castle near Corbridge.
The central storyline of the first three series was the character of London teenager Julie Warner (Lucy Walsh) struggling to fit in and adjust to life in working class Newcastle and her relationship with the rebellious Martin "Gill" Gillespie. In the show's final episode the characters discover that they do not exist and are the creation of unseen characters known as "The Writers" who plan to conclude the show by demolishing the Grove. However numerous present and former Grove members buy enough time for the characters to re-write the ending so that the club will remain open forever, but ultimately fail to stop it being demolished.
Until Series 10 (1998) the rival youth club was known as Denton Burn. In Series 13 (2001) rival youth club members were known as the Denwell Burners as they were from a youth club in Denwell Burn. This is a fictitious area of Newcastle upon Tyne, the name coming from a mixture of Benwell and Denton Burn.
The bands of Byker Grove
A number of musical acts have been spun off from the series. These include:
- Michelle Charles (under the guise of Charley, which was her character name) – "The Best Thing", "For the Good Times"
- PJ & Duncan — who became Ant & Dec for The Cult of... album (Singles include "Let's Get Ready to Rhumble", "Better Watch Out", "We're On The Ball")
- Byker Grooove – girl band starring Donna Air ('Charlie'), Jayni Hoy ('Leah') and Vicky Taylor ('Angel') whose single "Love Your Sexy...!!" reached No. 48 on the UK Singles Chart in December 1994. Byker Grooove evolved into the duo Crush with Jayni Hoy and Donna Air. (Singles included "Jellyhead" (UK No. 50) and "Luv'd Up" (UK No. 45) on Telstar Records.) In the United States, where Byker Grove did not air and nor was the Crush duo promoted as being associated with the series, "Jellyhead" reached No. 72 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1996. The song "Jellyhead" also charted in Australia from early February 1997, peaking at No. 32 in early April 1997, spending 23 weeks within the ARIA Top 100 Singles chart, 13 of which were in the Top 50.
- Summer Matthews – aka Emma Miller (Single: "Little Miss Perfect")
- Point Break, boyband featuring Brett Adams ('Noddy') and David Oliver ('Marcus'). (Singles include "Do We Rock", "Stand Tough", and "Freakytime" on Eternal Records.)
Other bands connected to Byker Grove include:
- Freefaller – includes David Oliver of Point Break
- Kane Gang – writers of the original theme music, a development from the "Ooh Gary Davies on your radio" jingle for BBC Radio 1.
List of characters in Byker Grove
There have been several youth leaders working at the Grove over the years. The following is a list of all the ones shown on-screen.
|Geoff Keegan||Billy Fane||1989–2000||Youth leader|
|Akili Johnson||Patrick Miller||2000–2006|
|Alison Fletcher||Vicky Murray||1989–1996||Assistant Youth Leader|
|Sian||Charlie Hardwick||1996–1999, 2000|
|Tina Meredith||Lynne Wilmot||2000–2002|
|Dom Meredith||Daymon Britton||2002–2006|
|Cher Coates||Jody Baldwin||2003|
|Chrissie Harrison||Sarah Lawton||2003–2006|
|Mary O'Malley||Lyn Douglas||1989–1991||Other staff|
|Rajeev Patel||Daniel Larson||1989|
|Steve "Brad" Bradley||Michael Nicholson||1989–1991, 1995|
|Dexter Dutton||Gavin Kitchen||1990–1992|
This is a list of characters who appeared in the show as members of the Grove from 1989 to 2006. (When surname is not listed, it is either unknown, or was never mentioned in the show)
|Donna Bell||Sally McQuillan||1989–91 (3 series)|
|Fraser Campbell||John Jefferson||1989–92 (4 series)|
|Kirsty "Spuggie" Campbell||Lyndyann Barrass||1989–92 (4 series)|
|Speedy Clark||Stephen Bradley||1989–92 (4 series)|
|Nicola Dobson||Jill Halfpenny||1989–92 (4 series)|
|Martin "Gill" Gillespie||Caspar Berry||1989–90 (2 series)|
|Winston Hardy||Craig Reilly||1989–92 (4 series)|
|Kelly||Louise Towers||1989–91 (3 series)|
|Hayley Oduru||Amanda Webster||1989–90 (2 series)|
|Andrew "Cas" Pearson||Niall Shearer||1989–90 (2 series)|
|Duncan Sperring||Declan Donnelly||1989–93; 1994; 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)|
|Julie Warner||Lucy Walsh||1989–91 (3 series)|
|Ian Webster||Craig Grieveson||1989–90 (2 series)|
|Carl||Peter Eke||1990–91 (2 series)|
|Marilyn "Charley" Charlton||Michelle Charles||1990–92 (3 series)|
|Debbie Dobson||Nicola Bell||1990–94; cameo 1995|
|Jemma Dobson||Nicola Ewart||1990–94 (5 series)|
|Joanne Gallagher||Michelle Warden||1990–92 (3 series)|
|Greg||Dale Meeks||1990–94 (appeared sporadically in the series)|
|Peter "PJ" Jenkins||Anthony McPartlin||1990–93; 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)|
|Jan Peterson||Marten Lind||1990 (1 series)|
|Robert||Christopher Hardy||1990–91 (2 series)|
|Paul Skerrett||Joe Caffrey||1990–92 (3 series)|
|Tessa Awe||Olive Simbo||1991–92 (2 series)|
|Marcus Bewick||David Oliver||1991–93 (3 series)|
|Amanda Bewick||Gemma Graham||1991–95 (5 series)|
|Danny Dimmoro||Steven Fox||1991 (1 series)|
|"Noddy" Fishwick||Brett Adams||1991–95 (5 series)|
|Angel O'Hagan||Vicky Taylor||1991–96; 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)|
|Bill Paul||Scott Paul||1991–92 (2 series)|
|Lee Ratcliffe||Rory Gibson||1991–94 (4 series)|
|Chrissy Van Der Berg||Lyndsey Todd||1991–92; 1995 (cameo)|
|Leah Carmichael||Jayni Hoy||1992–95 (4 series)|
|"Charlie" Charlton||Donna Air||1992–95 (4 series)|
|"Morph" Evans||Tracy Dempster||1992–93 (2 series)|
|Barney Hardy||Stephen Carr||1992–96 (5 series)|
|Teraise O'Hagan||Adele Taylor||1992–2001; 2003|
|Patsy Rowan||Justine McKenzie||1992–95 (4 series)|
|Frew||Luke Dale||1992–96 (5 series)|
|Ed Caseley||Grant Adams||1993–97 (5 series)|
|Kolton Evans||Stevie Lee Patterson||1993–94|
|Fran||Emma Louise Webb||1993|
|Marie Hallovan||Louise Mostyn||1993–96 (4 series)|
|Gary Hendrix||George Trotter||1993–96 (4 series)|
|Arran Hope||Neil Blackstone||1993–96 (4 series)|
|Flora McKay||Kerryann Christiansen||1993–97 (5 series)|
|Brigid O'Hagan||Joanne McIntosh||1993–98; 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)|
|Dale Puttifoot||Leslie Baines||1993–95 (3 series)|
|Alfie Turnbull||Andrew Smith||1993–97 (5 series)|
|Anna Turnbull||Claire Graham||1994–97 (5 series)|
|Terry Carter||Chris Woodger||1994–98; 2000; 2001; 2003|
|Karen Thrubb||Kimberly Dunbar||1994–2000 (7 series)|
|Laura Dobson||Emma Brierly||1995 (1 series)|
|Sita Rabi||Gauri Vedhara||1995–2000 (6 series)|
|Jack||Edward Scott||1995–99 (5 series)|
|Cher Coates||Jody Baldwin||1996–2000; 2003|
|Harry||Leah Jones||1996–2000 (5 series)|
|Mat||Sajid Varda||1996 (1 series)|
|Ben Carter||Andrew Hayden-Smith||1996–2003 (8 series)|
|Philip||Philip Miller||1996–97 (2 series)|
|Rob||Gavin Makel||1996–99 (4 series)|
|Nat Guinane||Alexa Gibb||1997–2001 (5 series)|
|Ollie Guinane||Louis Watson||1997–2001 (5 series)|
|Emma Miller||Holly Matthews||1997–2003 (7 series)|
|Jesus||Oz Reth||1997–2000 (4 series)|
|Leanne||Vikki Spensley||1997 (1 series)|
|Barry||Steven Douglas||1998–2000 (3 series)|
|Jake||Nick Figgis||1998–99 (2 series)|
|Laura McLaughlin||Louise Henderson||1998–2000; 2003|
|Regina O'Hagan||Jade Turnbull||1998–2003; 2005|
|Greg Watson||Gary Crawford||1998–2003 (6 series)|
|Nikki Watson||Siobhan Hanratty||1998–2002 (5 series)|
|Bradley Clayton||Nic Nancarrow||1999–2005 (7 series)|
|"Stumpy" McLaughlin||Paul Meynell||1999–2006*|
|Liam||Pete Hepple||1999–2001 (3 series)|
|Matt||Adam Henderson-Scott||1999–2003 (5 series)|
|Bill Dakin||Adam Ironside||2000–05 (6 series)|
|Joe Dakin||Chris Beattie||2000–02 (3 series)|
|Paul Johnson||Patrice Etienne||2000–03 (4 series)|
|Eve Johnson||Rory Lewis||2000–06*|
|Claire Rivers||Victoria Hawkins||2000–03 (4 series)|
|Adam Brett||Alex Beebe||2001–05 (5 series)|
|Luke Brett||Dominic Beebe||2001–05 (5 series)|
|Jodie||Sophie Blench||2001–02 (2 series)|
|Leanne Henderson||Rachael Lee||2001–04 (4 series)|
|Stella Reece||Emma Littlewood||2001–03 (3 series)|
|Sarah Young||Sammy T Dobson||2001–05 (5 series)|
|Robert Hunter||Tom Graham||2002–06*|
|Beth McGregor||Jennifer Wilson||2002-03|
|Jamie Parker||Matthew Edgar||2002–06*|
|Anjali Rishan||Nisha Joshi||2002–04 (3 series)|
|Hayley Robinson||Heather Garrett||2002–06*|
|Mukasa||Simon Yugire||2002 (1 series)|
|Kate Best||Alex Gardner||2003–06*|
|Sadie Fox||Bridie Hales||2003–05 (3 series)|
|Spencer Murray||Leon Scott||2003–04 (2 series)|
|Mickey Murray||Daniel Waterston||2003–06*|
|Lucy Summerbee||Chelsea Halfpenny||2003–06*|
|Flip||Ian Daniell||2003 (1 series)|
|Ben Brett||Adam Hopper/Luke Hopper||2004 (1 series)|
|Scott Jackson||Matthew Forster||2004–05 (2 series)|
|Zoe McCormack||Hannah Clementson||2004–06*|
|Kevin McLaughlin||Joe McCabe||2004–06*|
|Andrew "Spud" Tate||Jamie Tulip||2004–06*|
|Kylie Wylie||Gayna Millican||2004–06*|
|Danielle Blake||Chloe Stanley||2005–06*|
|Candice Marie Harper||Kate Heslop||2005–06*|
|Jessica Jones||Julianne Johnson||2005–06*|
|Charlotte Murray||Altea Claveras||2005–06*|
|"Gadget" Tilbrook||Daniel Watson||2005–06*|
|Madelaine Watts||Anna Udall||2005 (1 series)|
|David||Oliver walker||2005 (1 series)|
|Nathan||Adam Gibb||2005 (1 series)|
|Vicky||Jo McGarry||2005 (1 series)|
|Jason Mason||Scott Turnbull||2006*|
|Toni Armitage||Hazel Pude||2006*|
|Jake Armitage||Cahyle Smith||2006*|
* Indicates character was still in the show when it finished.
+ In the books that accompanied the series, Duncan's surname was listed as MacDonald until 1992, despite it being stated in the show in his 1st appearance (Series 1, Episode 3) that it is Sperring.
Although most of the action took place in the Grove, several characters' home lives and families were also shown. Some families remained in the show for many years. The house next door to the Grove was home to the Dobson family (1990–93) followed by the Turnbulls (1993–97) and then the Watsons (1998–2000). Other long-running families included the O'Hagans, the Carters and the various children at Lou Gallagher's foster home.
|Michael Warner||Gordon Griffin||Julie||1989–90 (2 series)|
|Clare Warner||Jenny Twigge||1989–90 (2 series)|
|Jim Bell||Colin MacLaughlan||Donna||1989–91 (3 series)|
|Lisa Harris||Jayne MacKenzie||1989–91 (3 series)|
|Polly Bell||Denise Welch||1990–91 (2 series)|
|Alan Dobson||Tony Hodge||Nicola, Debbie and Jemma||1990–94 (5 series)|
|Kath Dobson||Lesley St John||1990–94 (5 series)|
|Lou Gallagher||Anne Orwin||Foster mother to various characters||1990–2006 (17 series)|
|Jack Hardy||Alan Renwick||Winston and Barney||1990, 1992–93, 1995 (4 series)|
|Gerry O'Hagan||Terry Joyce||Angel, Brigid, Teraise (and others not shown on screen)||1993–2001 (9 series)|
|Maeve O'Hagan||Patricia Maria Dunn||1993–95 (3 series)|
|Peter Turnbull||Gez Casey||Alfie, Anna and Flora||1993–97 (5 series)|
|Jean McKay||Patricia Jones||1993–97 (5 series)|
|Tony McKay||John Rogers||Flora||1994–97 (4 series)|
|Gloria Caseley||Libby Davidson||Ed||1995–96 (2 series)|
|Carl Carter||John Bogeer(1996) David Tarkenter(2003)||Terry, Ben and Stella||1996 , 2003|
- Riddell, Kathryn (1 August 2016). "Vandals target Newcastle's Byker Grove setting where Islamic school is due to open". Evening Chronicle. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
- Newsround. Newsround-bias.blogspot.com (13 May 2006). Retrieved 8 May 2012.
- Duke, Simon (20 October 2014). "Byker Grove: Five memorable moments from the hit Newcastle TV series".
- Thomson, David (2014). The New Biographical Dictionary of Film (Sixth ed.). London: Abacus. ISBN 978-0-3491-4111-4.
- Francesca Williams; Murphy Cobbing (7 November 2014). "Byker Grove: When Ant and Dec were PJ and Duncan". BBC News.
- "Great Moments in Pop Culture – Byker Grove Nukes the Fourth Wall". Frantic Planet dot blog. 16 July 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 128. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Billboard Hot 100 for week of December 21, 1996". Billboard. Retrieved 7 June 2019.