Byker Grove

Byker Grove

Byker Grove was a teenage drama unlike nearly any other. While most kids TV drama is either maudlin or over the top silliness, Byker Grove went the other route and displayed a brutally frank portrayal of teenage life.

Set around a youth club in Newcastle, the show was about the lives of those who came through its doors over the years and ran for a frankly staggering length of time, airing from 1989 to 2006. Over the three decades, the show was never afraid of handling subjects both controversial and dark.

The show was not the usual soft-balled plotline associated with children's TV either, with the show frequently presenting the world as not only the complicated and foggy thing it is, but as being outright unjust.

Several characters suffered horrific injuries as the result of fairly meaningless stunts, or simply by accident. Characters were sometimes even simply killed off, something again completely alien in most children's TV.

This often lead to the show being highly controversial as it not only handled these grim subjects, but also threw it's hat into the rings of teen pregnancy child abuse, drug addiction, homelessness and sexuality. The latter even got the newspaper The Sun calling for the show's producer to resign after the show dealt with a character coming out in 1994. Thankfully the BBC stood by their man.

The show launched many a career, most noticeably in the UK the duo of Ant and Dec, who played a fun loving duo on the show and have become mainstays of British TV ever since. Other actors to have been a part of the show include Jill Halfpenny, Donna Air and Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunman.

Behind the lens too the show was the jumping point for a number of careers, with producer Matthew Robinson going on to be a major player in Eastenders and having Mamma Mia writer Catherine Johnson and Life On Mars co-creator Matthew Graham on its writing staff.

Overall though, while most kid's TV has a joyous nature, the downright sombre tone running through Byker Grove made it stand out at the time, but feel like hard work and fairly difficult to watch looking back.

 

FemaleFirst Cameron Smith


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