Byker Grove

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Byker Grove
Genre Teen drama
Created by Adele Rose
Andrea Wonfor
Developed by BBC
Zenith Entertainment
Directed byVarious
Theme music composer Kane Gang
Simon Etchell
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series18
No. of episodes344
Executive producers Andrea Wonfor (1989–90)
Ian Squires (1990–92)
Ivan Rendall (1992–95)
Matthew Robinson (1995–97)
ProducersMatthew Robinson (1989–95)
Helen Gregory (1995–97)
Stephen McAteer (1997–99)
Morag Bain (1999–01)
Edward Pugh (2002–05)
Tim Holloway (2006)
Production location Newcastle upon Tyne
Running time25 minutes
Original network BBC One (1989–2006)
Picture format 4:3 (1989–2000)
16:9 (2001–2006)
Original release8 November 1989 (1989-11-08) 
10 December 2006 (2006-12-10)
External links

Byker Grove is a British teen drama television series which aired between 1989 and 2006 as part of CBBC on BBC One. It was created by writer Adele Rose and executive producer Andrea Wonfor. The show was broadcast at 5:10pm after Newsround (later moved to 5pm). It was aimed at an older teenager and young adult audience, tackling serious and sometimes controversial storylines.



The show ran between 1989 and 2006, and was set in a youth club in the Byker district of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. In 1987, Wonfor approached soap writer Adele Rose. Together they created a single pilot episode featuring children aged 8–11 at an out-of-school club (transmitted on BBC in 1988). In autumn 1988, Wonfor gained the backing of Anna Home, then Head of the Children's Department at BBC Television. Home gave the go ahead for a run of a series of six 25-minute episodes to be broadcast by the BBC. The age of the main characters was raised to 12–16 after support from first producer-director, Matthew Robinson. The first series centred on young teenagers crossing the bridge from childhood to adulthood.


The Mitre, also known as Benwell Towers, acted as the production offices and the fictional youth club. Benwell Towers.jpg
The Mitre, also known as Benwell Towers, acted as the production offices and the fictional youth club.

Byker Grove was not filmed in the Byker area of Newcastle. The actual youth club set was in Benwell, which is in the west area of the city, Byker being in the east. Byker Metro station (the suburban rail network in Newcastle and the Tyne and Wear area) and other landmarks in the real Byker (such as the Byker Wall and surrounding estate) were used for filming backdrops.

The youth club building seen on-screen is The Mitre, which used to be a nightclub and a pub (which was mentioned in a few storylines from episodes in the late 1990s). [1] After the success of the first series (6 episodes, 1989), The Mitre was bought by the BBC's London property department, which then granted Zenith Television a permanent licence to film the series there.

Scenes representing Denwell Burn Youth Club for Series 15 were filmed at Raby Street Youth Club, in the buildings next to Byker Primary School. This is the real youth club for the children of Byker.

The final series started on 7 October 2006 on the CBBC Channel. Richard Deverell, head of CBBC, was interviewed on Newsround about the decision to axe Byker Grove. [2]


Byker Grove launched the careers of Anthony McPartlin ("P.J.") and Declan Donnelly ("Duncan"), who are otherwise known as Ant & Dec, as well as the actress Jill Halfpenny, [3] Donna Air, former CBBC presenter Andrew Hayden-Smith and Emmerdale actors Dale Meeks, Charlie Hardwick, Chelsea Halfpenny, Laura Norton and Victoria Hawkins. Also appearing in the series was the now glamour model Francoise Boufhal ("Ellie Baines") and Charlie Hunnam, who later starred in the American TV series Sons of Anarchy and co-starred in Pacific Rim (2013).

The cast and crew from the first 10 years of the show held their first reunion on 19 May 2012 in the Quayside area of Newcastle upon Tyne and on a river boat cruise. The party guests included Ant and Dec, Donna Air, Charlie Hardwick and Andrew Hayden-Smith.

Production team

The founder producer/director (1989–95) was Matthew Robinson. After being promoted to become executive producer of Byker Grove for two years (1995–97), he became executive producer of EastEnders , then Head of Drama for BBC Wales, and now runs Khmer Mekong Films in Cambodia. Byker Grove was also home to writers such as Catherine Johnson (who went on to pen Mamma Mia! , the ABBA musical) and Matthew Graham ( This Life , Doctor Who and co-creator of BBC One's Life on Mars ). The first writer was Adele Rose–in Series 1 she wrote episodes 1–4 and 6; her daughter, Carrie Rose, wrote episode 5. The most prolific writer was Brian B. Thompson, who wrote 50 episodes over 12 series. Byker Grove gave Academy Award-winning director Tom Hooper his first break into TV drama when he directed four episodes in 1997. [4]


Byker Grove was not intended for young children, but aimed at a young adult and teenage audience as it tackled some controversial subjects such as drug addiction, child abuse, homelessness, teen pregnancy, homophobia, and abortion. Although some of the action took place outside the youth club, the series was unusual among dramas in that the characters were rarely shown in school. One of the major settings was the foster home run by the kindly but strict Lou Gallagher, the longest-running character.

In November 1994, Byker Grove featured the first gay kiss on UK children's television. [5] It broached the subject of "coming out" when Noddy Fishwick kissed his close friend Gary Hendrix at the back of a cinema. This scene caused outrage in the British tabloids and calls for producer Matthew Robinson to be sacked. [5] However the BBC strongly backed the storyline, which received countrywide support from gay teenagers, many teachers, and parents. [3] The 2004 series saw the character of Bradley agonising over his sexuality and eventually coming out as gay to his girlfriend Sadie, after a romantic holiday together had failed to live up to their expectations.

The series frequently depicted life as unjust, with bad things happening to good people, such as Flora's death from a brain tumour, Greg's fall from the roof of the Grove which left him paralysed from the waist down, Jemma Dobson being electrocuted by a faulty electricity mains socket and youth leader Geoff Keegan's death in an accidental gas explosion after 11 years on the show. [3]

Byker Grove frequently confronted viewers with repercussions for the characters' actions, often permanent. These ranged from the comical to the tragic; characters who stole and joy-rode cars often died in them, starting with Gill, and ultimately Craig running over Ben Carter. P.J. was blinded during an illicit and unsupervised paintballing session, in which he ignored warnings and removed his face guard, in a scene filmed on location at Aydon Castle near Corbridge.

The central storyline of the first three series was the character of London teenager Julie Warner (Lucy Walsh) struggling to fit in and adjust to life in working class Newcastle and her relationship with the rebellious Martin "Gill" Gillespie. In the show's final episode the characters discover that they do not exist and are the creation of unseen characters known as "The Writers" who plan to conclude the show by demolishing the Grove. However numerous present and former Grove members buy enough time for the characters to re-write the ending so that the club will remain open forever. [6]

Until Series 10 (1998) the rival youth club was known as Denton Burn. In Series 13 (2001) rival youth club members were known as the Denwell Burners as they were from a youth club in Denwell Burn. This is a fictitious area of Newcastle upon Tyne, the name coming from a mixture of Benwell and Denton Burn.

The bands of Byker Grove

A number of musical acts have been spun off from the series. These include:

Other bands with links to Byker Grove include:

List of characters in Byker Grove

Grove staff

There have been several youth leaders working at the Grove over the years. The following is a list of all the ones shown on-screen.

Geoff KeeganBilly Fane1989–2000 (character died)Youth leader
Akili JohnsonPatrick Miller2000–2006
Alison FletcherVicky Murray1989–1996Assistant Youth Leader
Sian Charlie Hardwick 1996–1999, 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)
Tina MeredithLynne Wilmot2000–2002
Dom MeredithDaymon Britton2002–2006
Cher CoatesJody Baldwin2003 (former Grove member)
Chrissie HarrisonSarah Lawton2003–2006
Mary O'MalleyLyn Douglas1989–1991Other staff
Rajeev PatelDaniel Larson1989
Steve "Brad" BradleyMichael Nicholson1989–1991, 1995
GwenLinda Huntley1990
Dexter DuttonGavin Kitchen1990–1992
LloydGraham Overton1991–1992

Grove members

This is a list of characters who appeared in the show as members of the Grove from 1989 to 2006. (When surname is not listed, it is either unknown, or was never mentioned in the show)

Donna BellSally McQuillan1989–91 (3 series)
Fraser CampbellJohn Jefferson1989–92 (4 series)
Kirsty "Spuggie" CampbellLyndyann Barrass1989–92 (4 series)
Speedy ClarkStephen Bradley1989–92 (4 series)
Nicola Dobson Jill Halfpenny 1989–92 (4 series)
Martin "Gill" Gillespie Caspar Berry 1989–90 (2 series)
Winston HardyCraig Reilly1989–92 (4 series)
KellyLouise Towers1989–91 (3 series)
Hayley OduruAmanda Webster1989–90 (2 series)
Andrew "Cas" PearsonNiall Shearer1989–90 (2 series)
Duncan Sperring Declan Donnelly 1989–93; 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)
Julie WarnerLucy Walsh1989–91 (3 series)
Ian WebsterCraig Grieveson1989–90 (2 series)
CarlPeter Eke1990–91 (2 series)
Marilyn "Charley" CharltonMichelle Charles1990–92 (3 series)
Debbie DobsonNicola Bell1990–94; cameo 1995
Jemma DobsonNicola Ewart1990–94 (5 series)
Joanne GallagherMichelle Warden1990–92 (3 series)
Greg Dale Meeks 1990–94 (appeared sporadically in the series)
Peter "PJ" Jenkins Anthony McPartlin 1990–93; 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)
Jan PetersonMarten Lind1990 (1 series)
RobertChristopher Hardy1990–91 (2 series)
Paul Skerrett Joe Caffrey 1990–92 (3 series)
Tessa AweOlive Simbo1991–92 (2 series)
Marcus BewickDavid Oliver1991–93 (3 series)
Amanda BewickGemma Graham1991–95 (5 series)
Danny DimmoroSteven Fox1991 (1 series)
"Noddy" FishwickBrett Adams1991–95 (5 series)
Angel O'HaganVicky Taylor1991–96; 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)
Bill PaulScott Paul1991–92 (2 series)
Lee RatcliffeRory Gibson1991–94 (4 series)
Chrissy Van Der BergLyndsey Todd1991–92; 1995 (cameo)
Leah CarmichaelJayni Hoy1992–95 (4 series)
"Charlie" Charlton Donna Air 1992–95 (4 series)
"Morph" EvansTracy Dempster1992–93 (2 series)
Barney HardyStephen Carr1992–96 (5 series)
Teraise O'HaganAdele Taylor1992–2001; 2003
Patsy RowanJustine McKenzie1992–95 (4 series)
FrewLuke Dale1992–96 (5 series)
Ed CaseleyGrant Adams1993–97 (5 series)
Kolton EvansStevie Lee Patterson1993–94
FranEmma Louise Webb1993
Marie HallovanLouise Mostyn1993–96 (4 series)
Gary HendrixGeorge Trotter1993–96 (4 series)
Arran HopeNeil Blackstone1993–96 (4 series)
Flora McKayKerryann Christiansen1993–97 (5 series)
Brigid O'HaganJoanne McIntosh1993–98; 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)
Dale PuttifootLeslie Baines1993–95 (3 series)
Alfie TurnbullAndrew Smith1993–97 (5 series)
Anna TurnbullClaire Graham1994–97 (5 series)
Terry CarterChris Woodger1994–98; 2000; 2003
Karen GrantKimberly Dunbar1994–2000 (7 series)
Laura DobsonEmma Brierly1995 (1 series)
Sita RabiGauri Vedhara1995–2000 (6 series)
Ben Carter Andrew Hayden-Smith 1995–2003 (9 series)
JackEdward Scott1995–99 (5 series)
Cher CoatesJody Baldwin1996–2000; 2003
HarryLeah Jones1996–2000 (5 series)
MatSajid Varda1996 (1 series)
PhilipPhilip Miller1996–97 (2 series)
RobGavin Makel1996–99 (4 series)
Nat GuinaneAlexia Gibb1997–2001 (5 series)
Ollie GuinaneLouis Watson1997–2001 (5 series)
Emma Miller Holly Matthews 1997–2003 (7 series)
JesusOz Reth1997–2000 (4 series)
LeanneVikki Spensley1997 (1 series)
BarrySteven Douglas1998–2000 (3 series)
JakeNick Figgis1998–99 (2 series)
Laura McLaughlinLouise Henderson1998–2000; 2003
Regina O'HaganJade Turnbull1998–2003; 2005
Greg WatsonGary Crawford1998–2003 (6 series)
Nikki WatsonSiobhan Hanratty1998–2002 (5 series)
Bradley ClaytonNic Nancarrow1999–2005 (7 series)
LiamPete Hepple1999–2001 (3 series)
MattAdam Henderson-Scott1999–2003 (5 series)
Adam BrettAlex Beebe2000–05 (6 series)
Luke BrettDominic Beebe2000–05 (6 series)
Bill DakinAdam Ironside2000–05 (6 series)
Joe DakinChris Beattie2000–02 (3 series)
Paul JohnsonPatrice Etienne2000–03 (4 series)
Eve JohnsonRory Lewis2000–06*
"Stumpy" McLaughlinPaul Meynell2000–06*
Claire RiversVictoria Hawkins2000–03 (4 series)
JodieSophie Blench2001–02 (2 series)
Leanne HendersonRachael Lee2001–04 (4 series)
Stella ReeceEmma Littlewood2001–03 (3 series)
Sarah YoungSammy T Dobson2001–05 (5 series)
Robert HunterTom Graham2002–06*
Beth McGregorJennifer Wilson2002-03
Jamie ParkerMatthew Edgar2002–06*
Anjali RishanNisha Joshi2002–04 (3 series)
Hayley RobinsonHeather Garrett2002–06*
MukasaSimon Yugire2002 (1 series)
Kate BestAlex Gardner2003–06*
Sadie FoxBridie Hales2003–05 (3 series)
Spencer MurrayLeon Scott2003–04 (2 series)
Mickey MurrayDaniel Waterston2003–06*
Lucy Summerbee Chelsea Halfpenny 2003–06*
BinnieJonny Ferguson2003–06*
FlipIan Daniell2003 (1 series)
Ben BrettAdam Hopper/Luke Hopper2004 (1 series)
Scott JacksonMatthew Forster2004–05 (2 series)
Zoe McCormackHannah Clementson2004–06*
Kevin McLaughlinJoe McCabe2004–06*
Andrew "Spud" TateJamie Tulip2004–06*
Kylie WylieGayna Millican2004–06*
Danielle BlakeChloe Stanley2005–06*
Candice Marie HarperKate Heslop2005–06*
Jessica JonesJulianne Johnson2005–06*
Charlotte MurrayAltea Claveras2005–06*
"Gadget" TilbrookDaniel Watson2005–06*
Madelaine WattsAnna Udall2005 (1 series)
DavidOliver walker2005 (1 series)
NathanAdam Gibb2005 (1 series)
VickyJo McGarry2005 (1 series)
Jason MasonScott Turnbull2006*
Toni ArmitageHazel Pude2006*
Jake ArmitageCahyle Smith2006*

* Indicates character was still in the show when it finished.

+ In the books that accompanied the series, Duncan's surname was listed as MacDonald until 1992, despite it being stated in the show in his 1st appearance (Series 1, Episode 3) that it is Sperring.


Although most of the action took place in the Grove, several characters' home lives and families were also shown. Some families remained in the show for many years. The house next door to the Grove was home to the Dobson family (1990–93) followed by the Turnbulls (1993–97) and then the Watsons (1998–2000). Other long-running families included the O'Hagans, the Carters and the various children at Lou Gallagher's foster home.

Michael WarnerGordon GriffinJulie1989–90 (2 series)
Clare WarnerJenny Twigge1989–90 (2 series)
Jim BellColin MacLaughlanDonna1989–91 (3 series)
Lisa HarrisJayne MacKenzie1989–91 (3 series)
Polly Bell Denise Welch 1990–91 (2 series)
Alan DobsonTony HodgeNicola, Debbie and Jemma1990–94 (5 series)
Kath DobsonLesley St John1990–94 (5 series)
Lou GallagherAnna OrwinFoster mother to various characters1990–2006 (17 series)
Jack HardyAlan RenwickWinston and Barney1990, 1992–93, 1995 (4 series)
Gerry O'HaganTerry JoyceAngel, Brigid, Teraise (and others not shown on screen)1993–2001 (9 series)
Maeve O'HaganPatricia Maria Dunn1993–95 (3 series)
Peter TurnbullGez CaseyAlfie, Anna and Flora1993–97 (5 series)
Jean McKayPatricia Jones1993–97 (5 series)
Tony McKayJohn RogersFlora1994–97 (4 series)
Gloria CaseleyLibby DavidsonEd1995–96 (2 series)

See also

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