UK, ITV (Granada), Sitcom, colour, 1997
Starring: James Bradshaw, Nigel Planer, Ryan Cartwright
In the 1970s, on a housing estate in the Midlands town of Dudley live Gordon Grimley and his clan - there's the father, Baz, a car-worker permanently on strike; a hard working mum, Janet; little brother Darren and his teenage sister Lisa. Gordon is the bright spark of the family, academically gifted but physically something of a wreck. He harbours a burning passion for his schoolteacher, Miss Geraldine Titley, an innocently sexy and vivacious young woman who takes a room in the Grimley house before finding a place of her own. Geraldine has a boyfriend, the school's sadistic sportsmaster Doug Digby, who seems to have a personal vendetta against poor Gordon; in turn, Gordon despises Digby and cannot grasp what the more refined Miss Titley sees in the oaf. While Gordon's dad vegetates in his chair (he has no intention of working again and is content to let his wife slave while he strikes), his mother dotes on Big Reg Titley, her old flame who is in fact Gordon's real father. Reg's son is courting Gordon's sister, making the whole thing rather complicated. Also in the cast is another teacher, Neville Holder, a decent chap whom the children quite like but who is a bit soft on discipline. (In an inspired piece of casting, he was played by Noddy Holder, former frontman of the early 70s glam sensation Slade.)
At the end of the second series Geraldine is knocked down in a car accident and falls into a coma. Gordon visits her on a daily basis but when she awakes it is Doug who convinces her he has kept vigil and she starts up with him once again. Doug's triumph is short-lived, however, for in the opening episode of the third series he dies in a gymnasium accident. This would seem to leave the way clear for Gordon who, in the ensuing period, has left the school as a pupil and returned as a trainee teacher. But fate intervenes with the arrival of new woodwork teacher Dave Trebilcock, a scheming wideboy who soon makes advances to Miss Titley. Following her car crash and the death of her fiancee, Miss Titley has undergone a radical change, eschewing her sensible clothes in favour of more revealing outfits as she begins to blossom and celebrate her sexuality. She reciprocates Dave's attentions but will no longer put up with any nonsense and insists that marriage is on the agenda. Poor Gordon finds himself in limbo once again, but is determined to continue the fight.
This was a wonderful, well acted period piece that was that all too rare beast: a classy ITV comedy. The acting was fine throughout and the scripts crackled with good lines. The scene was deftly set each week by voice-over narration (from Darren or Gordon) and the flavour of the period was expertly realised. The third series saw a bigger role for Noddy Holder (who seemed to relish the part) as he starts to make romantic overtures to Gordon's mum, who has become a dinner lady at the school. In turns cynical and robustly crude, The Grimleys was consistently amusing and a welcome addition to the schedules.
Researched and written by Mark Lewisohn.
James Bradshaw - Gordon Grimley
Nigel Planer - Baz Grimley
Ryan Cartwright - Darren Grimley
Jan Ravens - Janet Grimley
Corrieann Fletcher - Lisa Grimley
Barbara Keogh - Nan Grimley
Samantha Janus - Geraldine Titley (pilot)
Amanda Holden - Geraldine Titley (series)
Jack Dee - Doug Digby (pilot)
Brian Conley - Doug Digby (series 1 & 2)
Craig Kelly - Dave Trebilcock (series 3)
Noddy Holder - Noddy (Neville) Holder
Paul Angelis - Big Reg Titley (pilot, series 1 & 2)
Woody Clements - Shane Titley (pilot)
Simon Lowe - Shane Titley (series)
Ruby Snape - Miss Thing (series 2)
Richard Rowbotham - Wayne (series 3)
Jed Mercurio - Creator
Jed Mercurio - Writer (21)
John Stevenson - Writer (1)
Fiona McCormick - Writer (1)
Jed Mercurio - Director (7)
Andy Margetson - Director (6)
Crispin Reece - Director (5)
Martin Dennis - Director (4)
Declan Lowney - Director (pilot)
Andy Harries - Executive Producer
Spencer Campbell - Producer (pilot
Saurabh Kakkar - Producer (series 3)
Number of episodes: 23
Length: 21 x 30 mins · 2 x 60 mins
Pilot (60 mins) 5 July 1997 · Sat 10.50pm
Series One (6) 8 Mar-20 Apr 1999 · mostly Mon 10.30pm
Series Two (10) 9 Jan-12 Mar 2000 · Sun 10pm
Series Three (5) 22 Jan-19 Feb 2001 · Mon 10.20pm
Special (60 mins) 1 Apr 2001 · Sun 10.35pm
The information in the bbc.co.uk Guide to Comedy is complied from 'The Radio Times Guide to Television Comedy' by Mark Lewisohn, published by BBC Books. More information about the book is available from the BBC Shop.
(The BBC is not responsible for the content of external links.)
Reviews supplied by Radio Times © 2003 BBC Worldwide - used under licence from BBC Worldwide.
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