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'Grange Hill' cast: Where are they now?

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·13-min read
'Grange Hill' stars Michelle Herbert and Todd Carty. (Photo by Eric Harlow/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
'Grange Hill' stars Michelle Herbert and Todd Carty. (Photo by Eric Harlow/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

When the final bell rang on Grange Hill in 2008, it marked the end of one of the longest-running shows on British TV. During its 30 years, more than 200 children ran through the halls and annoyed the teachers.

While all the children were pretty new to acting, some went on to bigger and better things once the show finished.

Others however, took a step away from the limelight.

Read more: How Grange Hill changed TV

It’s been over 40 years since the bell first rang at Grange Hill, so get ready for a reunion and take a look at what some of the more iconic characters are up to now...

Lee MacDonald – Zammo Maguire

MacDonald, who joined the show age 13, went on to have one of the biggest storylines in the school’s history when he became addicted to heroin.

Lee MacDonald played Zammo in Grange Hill for six years in the '80s (Image: Getty Images)
Lee MacDonald played Zammo in Grange Hill for six years in the '80s (Image: Getty Images)

It led to the cast recording a top five hit – Just Say No! – and a visit to the White House to meet Nancy Reagan.

Listen: Lee MacDonald shares the moment he met Nancy Reagan at the White House

However, after he left the show in 1987, he struggled to make his mark on acting. Speaking on White Wine Question Time, the star said his role as Zammo actually meant finding work after the show was difficult.

“All of my early twenties I've got typecast as Zammo,” he told host Kate Thornton.

Lee MacDonald believes his years of playing heroin addict Zammo in Grange Hill led him to being typecast
Lee MacDonald believes his years of playing heroin addict Zammo in Grange Hill led him to being typecast

“It was just Zammo walking into a room before I'd even walked into the audition. I still look like Zammo sort of now, but then I really looked like Zammo, so it was just a bit of a nightmare. It was soul destroying for a little period of time.”

Now aged 52, MacDonald runs his own key cutting shop in Wallington, although he did make a return to the small screen last year as Terry the bus driver in EastEnders and is looking forward to getting more acting roles in the forthcoming year.

Watch: Did you notice Grange Hill's Zammo in this classic soap?

Todd Carty - Tucker Jenkins

He was one of the original cast members when the show started out in 1978 and was so popular that in 1983, he got his own spin-off show Tucker’s Luck, which followed his path into adulthood.

Todd Carty had his own Grange Hill spin off series, Tucker's Luck (Image: Getty Images)
Todd Carty had his own Grange Hill spin off series, Tucker's Luck (Image: Getty Images)

In 1990, Carty then secured his other most famous role – that of Mark Fowler in EastEnders. After leaving Albert Square in 2003, he went onto appear in The Bill for two years.

Since then, he’s appeared in various shows, theatre productions and radio plays but is probably best remembered for his appearance on Dancing On Ice in 2009 when he failed to stop, skating off into the backstage area and leaving his partner Susie Lipanova to finish their routine alone!

Watch: Todd Carty spectacular stumble off set

Erkan Mustafa – Roland Browning

Mustafa played the oft-bullied Roland from 1982 until 1987 and soon became a core character of the cast. After leaving, he landed a regular role in Lenny Henry’s Chef! as Otto. He has since appeared on various shows as himself from Celebrity Juice to Pointless and in 2009, hosted a Grange Hill reunion.

Erkan Mustafa played the iconic Roland in Grange Hill for five years (Image: Getty Images)
Erkan Mustafa played the iconic Roland in Grange Hill for five years (Image: Getty Images)

MacDonald, who acted with him on screen frequently, is still in regular touch with him

“I speak to Roland quite a bit, probably once a week, once a fortnight,” he revealed on White Wine Question Time, saying that Mustafa had recently been in hospital but was on the road to recovery.

“We're still in touch. You feel that special bond, you know. Obviously, we grew up together, so it's always going to be really special.”

Linda Magistris – Susi McMahon

Linda Magistris made her first appearance at Grange Hill in the second series as Susi McMahon. A timid do-gooder she conquered the school bullies by learning judo!

As with Carty, she left the show to appear on Tucker’s Luck and continued to act until her 30s when her own wedding persuaded her to take a different approach to life.

Speaking on White Wine Question Time, where she appeared alongside MacDonald, Magistris said: “I got married when I was 29 and I realised there was actually a bit of a gap to be a wedding planner, so I was a wedding planner for 12 years, but I was driven by business really.”

Speaking on White Wine Question Time, Linda Magistris said she went into business after Grange Hill ended
Speaking on White Wine Question Time, Linda Magistris said she went into business after Grange Hill ended

Magistris then became a presenter on QVC, where she was reunited with Grange Hill’s floor manager Graham Theakston. They were together for eight years but in 2014, Graham sadly died from a rare form of cancer. This inspired her to set up The Good Grief Trust in August 2016, which brings all services for those who have been bereaved together under one umbrella.

Many of her former colleagues are now patrons including former on-screen boyfriend George Armstrong, who has lost both his parents, and Todd Carty.

Mark Baxter – Duane Orpington

Mark Baxter played Duane Orpington between 1980-1984. His time on the show detailed his battles with his violent father.

Mark Baxter and Amanda Mealing played best friends Duane and Tracy in the show (Image: Getty Images)
Mark Baxter and Amanda Mealing played best friends Duane and Tracy in the show (Image: Getty Images)

Sadly, he left the show suddenly due to ill health. He had been fighting Crohn’s disease for around two years, when he was rushed into hospital where he was to spend the next six months of his life.

Speaking on White Wine Question Time, Baxter said the disease, which is known to be stress-related ,was definitely made worse by his role on the show.

“We were the most stressed teenagers in the country,” he declared.

Mark Baxter left Grange Hill suddenly due to ill health and now teaches The Knowledge to cab drivers
Mark Baxter left Grange Hill suddenly due to ill health and now teaches The Knowledge to cab drivers

“Most people think it a fantastic life, but we were living it. Walking down the street could become a joy, but it could also turn into something that was very sinister. You had to be on your guard the whole time.”

While he did venture back into acting for a while with roles in Press Gang and One Foot In The Grave, he eventually left show business and is now a qualified London tour guide and cab driver and teaches wannabe cabbies how to pass The Knowledge.

Amanda Mealing - Tracy Edwards

Tracy Edwards, played by Amanda Mealing, was besties with Duane.

Amanda Mealing's first major acting role was in Grange Hill as Tracy Edwards (Images: Getty Images)
Amanda Mealing's first major acting role was in Grange Hill as Tracy Edwards (Images: Getty Images)

Mealing’s character was only in the show for one series but she went on to bigger and better things with her role as Connie Beauchamp on Holby City and now Casualty, a character she’s played since 2004.

She’s also appeared in films such as Four Weddings And A Funeral and Still.

Alison Bettles – Faye Lucas

As Faye Lucas, Bettles, 51, was the pin-up of Grange Hill and her affair with hunky Mr King made her legend in the school corridors.

Like MacDonald, she also appeared on the Just Say No! single and also sang on Let It Be, which was released in 1997 to raise money for the victims of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster.

Alison Bettles, who played Faye Lucas, chose to step away from the spotlight once she had kids (Image: Getty Images)
Alison Bettles, who played Faye Lucas, chose to step away from the spotlight once she had kids (Image: Getty Images)

Despite appearing as a young Ethel Skinner in EastEnders spin-off Civvy Street, which was set during the second world war, Bettles then actively decided to leave the world of acting behind to start a family, something she’s never regretted.

Read more: The out of touch celeb moments of 2020

“I decided that my mum and dad were old school parents and I wanted to bring my kids up having a fantastic life like I did,” she revealed on the latest episode of White Wine Question Time.

“I had the three boys together… And they were my life. I wanted to take their bikes to school every day and take them swimming. And I just wanted to do all of the stuff with the kids.”

Alison Bettles now helps her son out with his wholesale fruit and veg business
Alison Bettles now helps her son out with his wholesale fruit and veg business

Her children briefly followed her into acting – one son appeared in Dr Who and another in EastEnders – but it was something she discouraged them against saying she just wanted them to have “normal lives”. She now works alongside her son Arthur, running his wholesale fruit and vegetable company, something she loves!

“You go to the market at like 12 o'clock, one o'clock in the morning and everyone's asleep,” she told host Thornton. “The whole world is coming to life, and the buzz is amazing!”

Paula Ann Bland – Claire Scott

Bland, 52, played Claire Scott from 1980 to 1985. She was the strong-minded voice of the school and was involved in one of Grange Hill's highly controversial storylines - Gripper's racism. Claire ending up being attacked, before Gripper was expelled.

She also had a crush on Mr Hopwood – who didn’t? - and had a romance with Stewpot!

After Grange Hill, she had a small hit with her version of The Locomotion. She also appeared in shows such as Only Fools and Horses and Spender, and in 1988, she caused a bit of a controversy when she posed topless for Mayfair magazine.

Bland stopped acting by the 1990s, and since that time has also owned a shoe store and run her own PR company in London and Los Angeles.

In 2018, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Speaking on Lorraine last year, the star said she cried for 24 hours when she first round out.

“I woke up on New Year — after crying for 24 hours — after finding out initially. Like white noise once you hear those words ‘you have cancer’ everything else pales,” she said.

Thankfully, since having the lump removed, she has been doing well and is currently cancer-free.

Susan Tully – Suzanne Ross

For three years, Tully played Suzanne. Best pals with Claire Scott, she was a rebel, refusing to wear school uniform and bunking off school to work in a clothes shop!

While Susan Tully initially carried on with acting, she eventually moved behind the camera into directing (Image: Getty Images)
While Susan Tully initially carried on with acting, she eventually moved behind the camera into directing (Image: Getty Images)

After leaving her fictional school, Tully was due to start at a vert reak sixth form when she got her next big break – as Michelle Fowler on EastEnders. Acting alongside Grange Hill alumni Todd Carty, Tully played the role for 10 years in which time she had Den Watt’s baby at just 16, and a secret affair years later with Grant Mitchell.

Tully left the soap for a life behind the screen, and after directing some episodes of EastEnders, moved onto directing other huge TV hits including The Bill, Line Of Duty, Silent Witness and Tin Star.

John Alford – Robbie Wright

Alford was the cute pin-up of Grange Hill when he started as character Robbie Wright in 1985. He was the little brother of Jackie, Zammo’s girlfriend, and was a bit of a double act with Ziggy – the pair often getting into trouble with their high jinks and schemes.

John Alford became the pin up of Grange Hill during his time on the show (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)
John Alford became the pin up of Grange Hill during his time on the show (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)

Three years after he left Grange Hill, he was recruited into the fire service as Billy Ray in the hit ITV show London’s Burning. His star was shining brightly, which led to the inevitable singing career and he had three top 25 hits in 1996.

Read more: Byker Grove creator Adele Rose dies aged 87

However, his downfall soon followed when he was involved in a drugs scandal and convicted of supplying drugs to the News of the World undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood. He was subsequently imprisoned for nine months and sacked from London’s Burning.

John Alford fell from grace after being involved in a drugs scandal (Image: Getty Images)
John Alford fell from grace after being involved in a drugs scandal (Image: Getty Images)

Seventeen years later, Mahmood was jailed for 15 months after being found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Of that time, Alford told The Guardian: “They destroyed my life. A part of me died that day. I am very, very lucky to be alive.”

More recently in January 2019, he pleaded guilty to two counts of resisting an officer and was given a 12-month community order.

Sean Maguire – Tegs Ratcliffe

Actor and singer Maguire first walked through the gates of Grange Hill in 1998, when at just age 11, he took on the role of Tegs.

Sean Maguire bagged himself a recording contract once he left Grange Hill (Image: Getty Images)
Sean Maguire bagged himself a recording contract once he left Grange Hill (Image: Getty Images)

His floppy-haired character came from a family of criminals and even though he started at the school with his own criminal record, he soon became one of the more lovable characters of that year’s intake.

After leaving Grange Hill, Maguire went on to play Aidan Brosnan in EastEnders for a year, a talented footballer who dealt with drugs, depression and homelessness. After a few more TV roles, he then launched a singing career, supporting bands like Boyzone on tour – his biggest hit was Good Day in 1996.

Now aged 44, Sean Maguire now lives in LA having landing parts in lots of mainstream US dramas (Image: Getty Images)
Now aged 44, Sean Maguire now lives in LA having landing parts in lots of mainstream US dramas (Image: Getty Images)

Since then, he’s set his sights on the US and has appeared in big shows such as Criminal Minds, Once Upon A Time and The 100. Earlier this year, he launched an online acting school called The Players Conservatory.

Georgia May Foote - Alison Simmons

Foote, 29, was one of the last pupils at Grange Hill, portraying ‘nice girl’ Alison Simmons, who suffered from severe eczema, which initially made her a bit of loner.

Once the school doors shut in 2008, Foote appeared in various dramas such as Emmerdale and Heartbeat before landing the role as Katy Armstrong on Coronation Street in 2010.

After leaving the soap in 2015 when her character moved to Portugal, Foote took part in Strictly Come Dancing where she made it to the semi-final with partner Giovanni Pernice, who she went on to date for a year after the show.

More recently, she has made her debut in American sci-fi series The Outpost as Falista.

Hear Lee MacDonald, Alison Bettles, Linda Magistris and Mark Baxter chat about their Grange Hill days on the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.

Watch: Georgia May Foote reaches out to anxiety sufferers