Palace Hill (CITV, 1988-1991)
It’s time to take a look back at another CITV comedy show. In the mid-80s there was the award-winning sketch show Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It (that I reviewed a while back). One of the sketches became so popular with viewers that in 1988 it was given its own spin-off series. Palace Hill was a sitcom set in a school that was a parody to some extent on CBBC’s long-running drama Grange Hill. Even the theme music was suspiciously similar, even if it was insisted that all of this was a coincidence.
Palace Hill was a rather anarchic place, arguably picking up where the school sitcom Hardwicke House left off before it was abruptly pulled from the schedule. Most of the cast who featured were from the Central Junior Television Workshop (most of them had appeared in Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It, and some of them were also in drama Phoenix Hall that was on CITV around the same time).
Palace Hill featured a rather bizarre range of characters, along with some ideas that became increasingly far-fetched. Essentially, after stretching the premise as far as it’ll go, as we’ll discover, they then went and stretched it some more. The first series concentrated on the royals Prince William and Prince Harry attending the school, and they don’t really like mixing with the commoners. We never saw any teachers either.
In the second series, they were replaced by Princess Beatrice. And in the third and final series, which for no particular reason was set in outer space, the main character was now Chas Slough, who was very fond of Di, a member of the Galactic Imperial Family. There would also be some rather random musical interludes, and people with purple hair, which is something that I always enjoy seeing.
Other characters who appeared throughout the series were Nick Knuckle, Chelsea Bun, and Binky Spoon. There was also Jimmy, who had seemingly dropped in from a timewarp from 50 years earlier. He was played by Steve Ryde, who would go on to appear in some other shows on CITV, before going on to be the producer of the terrific CBBC show Dick And Dom In Da Bungalow.
Palace Hill ran for three series, and there was also a book released to accompany the show. There were some fantastically odd and enjoyable moments, alongside the bizarre characters. And if Scally The Dog who hosted on CITV around this time could keep a grip on what was happening, than I’m sure the average viewer could. I know I say it a lot but if ever a CITV show deserved a DVD release, then it should be this one.