Grange Hill Reunited; Nineteen Years on from the Just Say No Campaign Zammo, Ziggy and the Rest of the Cast Get Back Together for a Channel 4 Special

Article excerpt

Byline: By Brian McIver

THE innocent smiles have become world-weary and the school uniforms have been replaced by ill-fitting T-shirts and maternity dresses.

Zammo,Rollie and the rest of the 1986 Grange Hill cast have reunited for a TV show tonight - 19 years after they became the biggest child stars in the UK with their anti-drugs hit song Just Say No.

Their headline-grabbing campaign took them to the White House to meet First Lady Nancy Reagan, they performed at New York's Yankee Stadium and met luminaries like the Princess of Wales on a world tour.

On tonight's Channel 4 show Bring Back Grange Hill, comedian Justin Lee Collins tracks down the stars from the programme's heyday and gathers them together to sing their chart hit at a concert in London.

The show grabbed the headlines when the most popular character - teen pin-up Zammo - fell in with the wrong crowd and developed a heroin addiction.

The episode when he was discovered by his pals and arrested was one of the most talked-about moments of Eighties TV and sparked the anti-drugs campaign.

When the Grange Hill mob were brought in to record Just Say No, which was originally written for a similar American campaign, the popularity of the TV show kicked in and it reached No.5 in the UK singles chart.

Nancy Reagan was the patron of the Just Say No movement in the States, and took them to Washington for a tour of the US, including a performance at the White House. But a newspaper scandal seven years ago alleged that some of the group were taking drugs and even smoked cannabis in the president's home.

Although two cast members deny the reports on the programme tonight, Mmoloki Chrystie reveals that he was high on drugs during their appearance at Yankee Stadium where they led a crowd of kids in a pledge to never take drugs.

Here we catch up with five of the characters involved in the programme tonight

ZAMMO (SAM McGUIRE)

Lee MacDonald

AS the show's biggest star, Lee was more famous than any boyband member or footballer in the mid-Eighties, but has no regrets about quitting acting after leaving the show to pursue a boxing career.

When that dream ended after a car accident, he started his own business as a key cutter and still enjoys it when fans comeup to him all these years later. While the cheeky smile is still there, it is surrounded by a much bulkier frame than the athletic 15-year-old who broke a million hearts in 1986. Lee said: 'It was mad back then. I went with my school to the Imperial War Museum and there were about 100 girls chasing me though the place. 'The security guards had to come up to me and say they couldn't have this and I'd have to leave.

'I'd love to get chased by just one girl now. It was unbelievable.

'We would go to public appearances at nightclubs and there would be 1000 people there screaming at us.'

He left the show in 1987, a year after the Just Say No mania, to concentrate on his career in the ring.

Lee, 34, said: 'People think that if you leave the show and you're not on television, you're not doing well, but I had no intention of going into acting at all.

'For a lot of us, it was just back-up money while we were at school and we didn't actually want to do it.We went on to do our own things after we left. …