UK, ITV (Carlton UK Productions/Cinar Productions for Central), Children's sitcom, Colour, 1994
Starring: Simon Fenton, Eugene Byrd, Rachel Blanchard
An internationally produced children's sitcom - made by Central TV in England and the Canadian independent company Cinar, in association with the US cable station Showtime - set in an international boarding school in England, Stansfield Academy. Oliver Cross, a teenager, is the established school king cool when, at the start of a new term, two things occur to change the situation: Stansfield becomes mixed-sex (or co-ed, as the Americans have it) and a new teenage male pupil, Chris Hilton, joins the fray, immediately becoming popular with the girls and a clear challenge to Cross's established authority. Neither Chris nor Cross like school very much so they decide to join forces to liven up the hitherto stuffy establishment, playing practical jokes galore. They represent a formidable team: Cross is black and has built his status on the back of his wisecracking and his abilities as a DJ; Chris is white, the all-American athlete, a perfect student. Bossy fellow pupil Rachel is the headmaster's grand-daughter.
Mixing comedy with spirited drama, Chris Cross episodes were also laden with rock music by the likes of U2, Sinead O'Connor and Annie Lennox - at least, the British screenings were. Episodes broadcast in America carried different soundtracks as well as alternate accents in the mouths of the actors, synced in post-production, and differently edited scripts.
English actor Simon Fenton (who played the American Chris Hilton) was something of a heart-throb at this time, and was appearing as Luke Bouverie in the C4 dramatisation of Joanne Trollope's The Rector's Wife when the first series of Chris Cross began. The remarkable popularity of Chris Cross on American TV - it won an award there - led Fenton to pursue a career in the States, gaining him a principal role in the movie Matinee.
Researched and written by Mark Lewisohn.
Number of episodes: 13
Length: 30 mins