Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Fattest Face in Showbusiness

Last night Channel 4 screened 'Bring Back... Grange Hill' (the pause in the middle is presumably for dramatic effect), an attempt to reunite a few of the 1986 cast for a one-off performance of the anti-drugs anthem 'Just Say No' at the Hammersmith Palais.

Needless to say I was hoping they'd all just say no to the offer, and a couple of them did, but on the way we learnt some interesting facts, most notably that Lee McDonald, aka Zammo Mcguire, now looks more like Roland than Roland does, and most of the weight he's acquired seems to have gone on under his chin. Obviously a 'moon face' is a side-effect of taking certain drugs, but I'm sure that's mere coincidence, and doesn't mean that in real life Zammo just says yes.

Lee told us that following his national stardom on Grange Hill, he decided to take that oh-so-familiar career path of giving up the acting and becoming a boxer. It's something Frank Bruno tried in reverse. With about as much success. Not that I'm suggesting it didn't work out for Lee, but he now works in a key-cutting shop in Carshalton. You be the judge.

Erkan Mustafa (Ro-land to his friends) is another of the show's success stories. He now claims to be DJ-ing and writing for TV. So I think we're talking children's parties and a letter to 'Points of View' there.

But the prize for Most Pretentious Has-Been of 2005 must go to Mmoloki Chrystie, a veteran of both Grange Hill and my personal favourite, 'Press Gang', who decided he was far too important to do an interview on camera, and preferred instead to submit a short film of himself reminiscing about 1986 with a bit of moody lighting and atmospheric background music. As if it wasn't pretentious enough to shoot a five minute piece of film noir in response to an interview request, Mmoloki had the audacity to entitle his piece "Pitcher's Mound". It was certainly a mound of something.

A little more unassuming was Alison Bettles (formerly the lovely Faye Ripley), an Essex girl who spends all her time at the Lakeside shopping centre, and who managed to refer to Nancy Reagan as "the patron saint of summink". A phrase probably not used to describe Nancy since her late husband died.

All in all though, the reunion was well worth it. Erkan Mustafa summed up the whole experience with the words "It's been nice seeing you, but let's leave it another eighteen years".

I couldn't agree more.