The Grimleys

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The Grimleys
The Grimleys logo.png
Series logo
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 22
Running time 30 minutes
Original network 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.[6] Later series, however, featured location filming in Dudley, including a scene at Dudley Zoo.


The Grimleys follows the ups and downs of the dysfunctional Grimley family in their struggles with everyday life. Gordon Grimley (James Bradshaw) is an intellectual but feeble schoolboy who has a crush on his teacher, Miss Geraldine Titley (Amanda Holden; Samantha Janus in the pilot). His younger brother Darren (Ryan Cartwright), who also narrates the storyline and sets the scene, is fond of Gordon and sympathetic to his unrequited love for Miss Titley, but is frustrated by his brother's fey personality and his nickname, "The School Spanner". Their father Baz (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 has not moved from his armchair since then and spends his days watching television (ITV only).[7] He is particularly infuriated by Gordon's artistic leanings and is determined that he should do "a man's job" rather than go to university, unlike their hard-working mother Janet (impressionist Jan Ravens).

Other domestic characters are their older sister Lisa Grimley (Corrieann Fletcher) and their Nan (Barbara Keogh), who seems to be obsessed with the "Grimley curse". The Grimleys' next-door neighbours are the Titleys, consisting of Geraldine, plumber uncle Reg (Paul Angelis) and his son Shane (Simon Lowe), a Bay City Roller lookalike and self-styled ladies' man with a clapped-out Vauxhall Viva car.

To complicate matters further, Shane is dating Lisa, and Janet and Reg carry obvious torches for each other. Reg's sensitivity and surprisingly poetic tongue give rise to a question mark over Gordon Grimley's parentage, as does Shane Titley's oafish behaviour and idolisation of Baz Grimley.

Many of the scenes are set in the Grimley brothers' school, alongside their sadistic PE teacher Doug "Dynamo" Digby (Brian Conley; Jack Dee in the pilot), who lives in a corner of the school gymnasium.[8] Doug always takes both pride and pleasure in bullying his pupils, perhaps due to the behaviour of his thuggish father, played by Lewis Collins (from The Professionals). Doug is dating Geraldine Titley, much to Gordon Grimley's chagrin, leading to increasing tensions between them. Also present is Amazonian gym mistress called Miss Thing (Ruby Snape), whom Digby seems to fancy.

The show also stars Noddy Holder, the former lead singer of Slade, in the role of music teacher Neville Holder (his own real name), and there are a number of cameos including one by the glam rock singer Alvin Stardust as a pub landlord.[9] This leads to a series of in jokes, such as Holder and Stardust bemoaning the lost opportunities of their youth over a pint of beer, and Holder's character being described as "not exactly Mr Rock 'n' Roll".

Other guest stars were 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; Elizabeth Berrington as a school inspector; Ron Atkinson as the manager of an opposing football team; Stephen Lewis playing a coach driver very similar to his character Inspector Blake in On The Buses; Jim Bowen as a militant trade unionist; and Pam Ayres as herself.

Series 3 changes[edit]

Series one and two features the same regular cast and runs in a continuous time frame, while series three is set later in the 1970s. Doug Digby's character is killed off in a gym accident in the first episode of the third series, and he is replaced in Geraldine Titley's affections by the scheming, manipulative woodwork teacher Dave Trebilcock (pronounced "Trebilco"), played by Craig Kelly. Geraldine has spent the time between the second and third series in a coma, which allows the series to shift its focus from the glam rock era to the punk era. Gordon is now working as a trainee teacher at the school, where he is bullied and insulted by the pupils, many of whom, including his brother, Darren, are dressed as punks. Their mother, meanwhile, has walked out on her husband and taken up with Neville Holder, who has now become the school's headmaster, leaving Gordon as the family's sole breadwinner.


The theme music of the first series is "Bye Bye Baby" by the Bay City Rollers over the title credits and either "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" or "Cum On Feel the Noize", both by Slade, over the end credits. Noddy Holder performs an 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 vary between "Cum On Feel the Noize", "How Does It Feel?" and "Everyday", also by Slade. Holder performs 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 performs an acoustic version of "'Coz I Luv You" over the end credits of the Series 2 finale, "The Prime of Mr Doug Digby".

"Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" by the Buzzcocks is the theme music of the third series, which also features 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 the Blackpool punk band UFX appear opposite Amanda Holden.

Home media[edit]

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

Series 1 was released on VHS in 2000, both as a boxed 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 (it is unknown if this DVD was official or a pirate release). Series 2, Series 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.

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


The pilot episode, shown in 1997, features a Grimleys logo on the opening titles that is never seen otherwise. Series one and two (as well as on the respective VHS releases and first soundtrack album) 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 VHS release of the pilot episode.

As Nigel Planer left the cast between series two and series 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. ^ Dudley Chronicle, 15 May 1998
  7. ^ "BBC - Comedy Guide - The Grimleys". Archived from the original on 5 December 2004. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  8. ^ James Rampton (1999-06-12). "Dee Goes Straight - Arts & Entertainment". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  9. ^ James Rampton (1999-03-06). "Still Crazee Now - Arts & Entertainment". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 

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