Byker Grove (CBBC, 1989-2006)
I don’t usually review drama series on here, but I’ve decided to take a look at this one, partly because a few people have requested this, presumably meaning that someone wants to know my views, and also because it’s a famous and long-running series, coming second only to Grange Hill as far as CBBC dramas go, finishing long after I had stopped regularly watching.
Byker Grove was set at a youth club in Newcastle. Now this isn’t the part of England that I am from so I wouldn’t really know how realistic a portrayal it is, but more often than not it dealt with some difficult things in an acclaimed way. Because the show ran for so long there was a huge cast turnover, but the basic idea was featuring the lives of people in their early-teens and the various troubles they can face at that age.
The opening sequence also featured the memorable theme music, various cast members jumping around, and the excitement of a football that when it bounced off the screen made a different noise in every episode, and some of them were rather odd. Every episode also began by telling you what day it was, which was rather useful I’m sure.
I suppose at this point I should reference the most famous characters, who were PJ and Duncan. Possibly the most famous moment in the show’s history was the series cliffhanger when PJ had a mishap and lost his sight in a paintball accident. Would Duncan stay by his side? Ant and Dec then went on to launch a pop career that was surprisingly long-running, and they also got their own show on CBBC.
They have now gone on to be popular TV presenters for almost 25 years, but this is where it all began for them. I am still a little surprised by their success because for many years after they left the show I still used to think occasionally that Ant was blind. Several other cast members went on to various things such as releasing singles and TV presenting, but they have been the most successful.
There were 344 episodes of Byker Grove in 18 series, and it was often shown twice a week. I never realised until recently that in the final episode they did the whole “realising that they’re characters in a TV show” routine, and concluded by randomly blowing everything up, well who was still watching by this point? The credits then played over “In My Life” by The Beatles, which is how all decent TV shows should end.
I also remember as well as often being shown on CBBC, some of the early episodes were repeated in the late-90s on the long-gone digital channel Carlton Kids, it can’t only have been me who saw them there. As far as I know, unlike Grange Hill, none of the episodes have been released on DVD, maybe that could be a good move because lots of people still remember this one.