The Grimleys (ITV, 1997-2001)
Here’s yet another entry in the “were there any decent 90s ITV sitcoms?” series. And can you believe it, we appear to have come across a successful one, not only did it have more than one series, but it also ran into the early-2000s! The Grimleys started out as a one-off pilot episode in 1997, and it was given a full series in 1999. The show was created and written by Jed Mercurio, who has also been behind several acclaimed drama series.
The first series of the show was set in 1975, and what was interesting about it was that it was shown on ITV at almost the same time as Days Like These, which was based on the American sitcom That 70s Show, but it wasn’t very good compared to this one, even though it was almost exactly the same idea, seemingly having little to say about the era beyond “weren’t the clothes silly back then?”. Why did this one triumph while that one failed?
The show was set in Dudley in the West Midlands, and concentrated on the life of the Grimley family back in those days. Gordon is a schoolboy who often has mishaps, along with a big crush on his teacher Miss Titley, who is also the next-door neighbour. His younger brother Darren is more of a success though, and along with Gordon he often sets up the story at the start of the episode. I wasn’t around in those days, I wonder if it was always like this.
There are also the parents, dad Baz is taking time off work and watches the TV all day, he hasn’t moved from his chair for a very long time, while there is also mum Janet and older sister Lisa. Among the other school staff appearing are the aggressive PE teacher Doug Digby (Brian Conley) who often likes to put the pupils through their paces, and is going out with Miss Titley, much to Gordon’s frustration.
Another teacher featuring is played by Noddy Holder with much enthusiasm (a great piece of casting, and there were a lot of songs by his band Slade featured on the soundtrack). There were also guest appearances from from various people who found fame in the 70s who didn’t mind sending themselves up, including Alvin Stardust, Bamber Gascoigne, Johnny Ball, and Jim Bowen.
The third and final series was set later in the decade, and things had started to change. Gordon was back at the school now training to become a teacher, Doug was killed in an accident, and some punk music was starting to come onto the scene. There were 23 episodes of The Grimleys, which concluded with another hour-long special in 2001. Since then, it has been repeated in the early days of ITV3, but surprisingly there has been no DVD release, although a soundtrack featuring various 70s songs was released on CD.