Where are the teachers of Grange Hill now? As fans mourn death of Nicholas Donnelly, 83, who played Mr Mackenzie, FEMAIL reveals the fortunes of the original stars – from Hollywood fame to soap success
- Fans of the classic children’s show Grange Hill are mourning the death of actor Nicholas Donnelly
- But what happened to the other teachers at the fictional comprehensive school in north London?
- Here, FEMAIL looks at what happened to the cast after the show made them household names from Hollywood fame to untimely deaths
Fans of the classic children’s show Grange Hill are mourning the death of actor Nicholas Donnelly, who played teacher Mr MacKenzie, who has died at the age of 83.
The actor, who played the role for around eight years, started the role from series five and played it for eight years throughout the 80s.
But what happened to the other teachers at the fictional comprehensive school?
The show ran as a BBC children’s TV series for 30 years between 1978 and 2008.
Among the characters that featured over the years were Mr. Tony ‘Old Mitch’ Mitchell played by Michael Percival, Mrs. Monroe played by Dorothea Phillips and Mrs McCluskey, played by Gwyneth Powell.
Many of the actors starred in various roles across the BBC, including EastEnders, Doctors, Casualty and Doctor Who – while others have had Hollywood success.
Michael Percival, who starred as form tutor Mr Mitchell starred in the Oscar-winning A Fish Called Wanda and 101 Dalmatians.
Graham Ashley, who played the caretaker, went on to star in the original Star Wars before sadly passing away in 1979.
Here, FEMAIL looks at what happened to the cast after the show made them household names…
Played: Mr. Tony ‘Old Mitch’ Mitchell, Geography Teacher and form tutor to G1
Michael Percival, who played Mr. Tony ‘Old Mitch’ Mitchell, Geography Teacher and form tutor to G1 (left) went on to star in Hollywood films – including Percival in the Oscar-winning A Fish Called Wanda and a bumbling police inspector in 101 Dalmatians opposite Glenn Close. Sadly, he passed away in 2015 from natural causes.
Perhaps the most successful teacher actor from the original cast, Michael Percival played lovable form tutor and geography teacher Mr Mitchell.
After the show, the actor went on to star in Hollywood films – including Percival in the Oscar-winning A Fish Called Wanda and a bumbling police inspector in 101 Dalmatians opposite Glenn Close.
He also starred in dozens of BBC series, including ‘Allo ‘Allo!, Doctors and Doctor Who.
For many years, he dated Janet Fielding – the Australian born actress best-known for playing Dr Who companion Tegan Jovanka.
Sadly, he passed away in 2015 from natural causes.
Played: Mrs. Monroe, Head of First Year
Dorothea Phillips played the head of first year in the first season of Grange Hill – meaning she was in charge of the unruly kids including Tucker Jenkins, Justin Bennett and Benny Green (left in character). Prior to starring in the show, the vicar’s daughter held the licence to more than one of Soho drinking clubs. Last year, she spoke to the Guardian about working in Soho at the height of sleaze. She revealed she still travels (right, now)
Now 94, Welsh-born Dorothea Phillips played the head of first year in the first season of Grange Hill – meaning she was in charge of the unruly kids including Tucker Jenkins, Justin Bennett and Benny Green.
She left after the first series and went on to star in Jane Eyre (1983), and 102 Dalmations in 2000 – and worked on the stage well into her 80s.
Prior to starring in the show, the vicar’s daughter held the licence to more than one of Soho drinking clubs. Last year, she spoke to the Guardian about working in Soho at the height of sleaze.
She revealed she still travels every week from Bloomsbury, where she lives, to meet friends in the French House pub on Dean Street.
During her career, she appeared in many productions of Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, appearing in the first theatre production and in the television broadcasts of the production.
Played: Mrs Mccluskey
Headteacher Mrs McCluskey, played by Gwyneth Powell, 75, was the ruler of Grange Hill between 1981-1991.
Born Manchester, Gwyneth was involved in drama from a young age, and even found some acclaim as Fat Urs in the National Youth Theatre’s production of Ben Jonson’s Bartholemew Fair.
After qualifying at Goldsmiths College, Gwyneth moved into theatre, where she did an apprenticeship for three years at Worthing and the Bristol Old Vic.
Christopher Coll Played: Mr Malcolm
Actor Christopher Coll portrayed teacher Mr Malcolm in the first series of Grange Hill.
Before he appeared in the programme, he appeared in a host of other popular British shows.
He played three different roles on Coronation Street, including Roy Carlin, a salesman at Grimethorpe’s TV shop in November 1971 and Newton & Ridley rep Barry Goodwin in May 1978.
Meanwhile he also appeared in two Doctor Who episodes: as Phipps in the Seeds of Death (1969) and Stubbs in The Mutants (1972).
However his longest running character on the series was that of Victor Pendlebury, who appeared irregularly between November 1982 and January 1992.
His other TV credits include playing Detective Constable Kane on police procedural Z-Cars, and Dave Rockway on football soap United!
He was married to fellow actor Elizabeth Weaver, who starred in a host of TV series including Doomwatch and Crown Court.
The couple had three children together, Sarah, Daniel and Harriet. The actor, who lived in Hampstead, died in May 2021 at the age of 83.
It was then that she moved into TV, joining the show The Guardians, before starring in Z Cars, Dixon of Dock Green, Squadron, Accident, People Like Us, Coronation Street, and The Enigma Files.
In 2013, she told Grange Hill Gold she decided to accept the role of Mrs McCluskey after ‘pressure’ from her nephew and nieces who loved the programme.
She explained how she was ‘conscious’ that Mrs McCluskey ruled the school at the same time as Margaret Thatcher.
In a 2008 interview with BBC , she said: ‘At first Mrs McClusky was written as a ‘twin set and pearls’ role but I was quite young at the time and didn’t want to play it like that.
‘We started with the clothes and she was quite fashion conscious and chic. I was told by lots of people she was a great fillip to young women teachers who started applying for headships.
‘The show had repercussions in all kinds of ways and the character did too. My period did coincide with the Thatcher years. I think Mrs McClusky became memorable because we had a prime minister like that.’
After a decade, she wanted to pursue other interests and let Grange Hill bosses know she was planning to leave the programme.
She bought the rights to E. M. Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady and adapted it as a self-financed one-woman show in Edinburgh, also touring the production.
She has since starred in several other television programmes such as Heartbeat, A Touch of Frost, Holby City, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates and Father Brown, and in 2008, Echo Beach.
She played the role of a school teacher in a Victorian School Day in an episode of the BBC Schools TV series Watch.
In 2009, using archive footage, coupled with some newly recorded lines, Powell reprised her Grange Hill role as Mrs McClusky for a cameo appearance in an episode of Ashes to Ashes, set in 1982.
In 2010, Powell starred as Nana in The Gemma Factor. In 2011–2013 she became a support character in the teen programme House of Anubis, playing the role of Nina Martin’s grandmother.
In 2013 she took the role of Greg Davies’ mother Polly Davies in the Channel 4 comedy Man Down
Gwyneth said: ‘Even now, I don’t think a day passes without someone telling me how much they loved the programme.
‘It affected a whole generation, and apart from the children, many women teachers have told me that my role encouraged them to apply for headships, which is great.’
She went on to appear in Heartbeat, A Touch Of Frost, Casualty, Doctors and Holby City.
Meanwhile she revealed her job involves travelling to teach drama students all over the world, including in China, India and Dubai.
Played: Mr. ‘Grumpy’ Garfield, Caretaker
Known for playing the grumpy yet loveable caretaker, Graham Ashle played Mr Garfield from seasons one to three (left). Before his roles in Grange Hill, he starred in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (right), The Avengers (1961) and BBC Sunday-Night Theatre (1950).
Known for playing the grumpy yet loveable caretaker, Graham Ashle played Mr Garfield from seasons one to three.
Before his roles in Grange Hill, he starred in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), The Avengers (1961) and BBC Sunday-Night Theatre (1950).
A favourite with fans, he was the very first character to appear on-screen in the opening episode.
Sadly, he passed away aged just 52 before the third season of the show aired.
Played: Mr Bronson
Aberdeen-born Michael Sheard played villainous toupee-wearing Mr Bronson in the hit series.
Aberdeen-born Michael Sheard played villainous toupee-wearing Mr Bronson in the hit series.
Born in Aberdeen, the actor trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and took his mother’s maiden name Sheard as his stage name.
He was renowned for playing villainous characters on TV, and starred in popular science-fiction shows including in six televised stories of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who.
There was even some discussion of whether he would be a potential doctor, with the actor telling the BBC in 2003: ‘Things got in the way. It would have been fun to do.’
He also appeared in Colditz (1972), On The Buses (1973), Cloud Burst (1974) and Space: 1999 (1975), as well as the BBC’s adaptation of the Lord Peter Wimsey story The Five Red Herrings.
Stella Haime Played: Janet
Stella was best known for her role as Janet in the hit children’s TV series and as the school secretary was one of the longest standing members of the staff at the school.
Stella had few acting credits after appearing on the show, starring in just The Galactic Garden.
In 1978, he appeared in an episode of the television series All Creatures Great and Small, as well as in the British police drama The Professionals as Merton, a forensics expert.
In 1983, he played Herr Grunwald, the German manager of a building site, in the first series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
As well as often returning to science fiction as a genre, Sheard has also portrayed Adolf Hitler on multiple occasions during his career.
He starred in in Rogue Male (1976), The Tomorrow People (1978), The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission (1985), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the documentary Secret History: Hitler of the Andes (2003).
In 1980, he had a major supporting role in Stephen Poliakoff’s BBC television play Caught on a Train.
Meanwhile Michael also appeared as Imperial Navy Admiral Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
George Lucas would later describe Ozzel’s death by the force-choke stare by Darth Vader as his favourite movie death scene.
Lucas told Sheard at the time that it was ‘the best screen death I’ve ever seen’.
Although Sheard initially regarded Star Wars as ‘just another part in a very busy actor’s career’, the role gained him wide recognition among fans and he appeared frequently at Star Wars conventions while an Admiral Ozzel action figure was released.
Despite his success across film and TV, for many he would always be remembered as Grange Hill’s deputy head Maurice Bronson, and for his stern shouts of ‘You boy!’
Speaking to GrangeHillGold , he explained how he loved filming the show, adding: ‘I thoroughly enjoyed it.
‘Whilst we were filming they were making a behind the scenes documentary and several of the ‘kids’ said that they really enjoyed working with me.
‘And I thought that was very nice. I tried to treat them not like kids, but as smaller actors!’
Sheard wrote four autobiographies about his career, including Yes Mr Bronson: the Memoirs of a Bum Actor in 1997, which had a foreword by Roger Moore.
He died in August 2006 from cancer at his home on the Isle of Wight, but was survived by his wife Ros Sheard, and their three children.
Played: Miss Mather
Carole, 79, from Belfast, starred in a host of Britain’s most popular TV shows of the 1960s and 1970s. According to the UlsterActors blog, in 1998 she played Marfa in American produced television movie Crime and Punishment, which was to be her last screen appearance for a considerable period of time, although she continued her stage career.
Carole, 79, from Belfast, starred in a host of Britain’s most popular TV shows of the 1960s and 1970s.
She made her television debut in 1964, playing Edith Copleigh, one of two English sisters in late 19th century India in an episode of ‘ The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling.
By the mid-sixties she was a student of LAMDA, and graduated in 1967.
It was then her career began to take off with a brief appearance in the television series The Revenue Men.
The actress’ long list of credits include roles in The Liver Birds, Public Eye, Crown Court, Within These Walls, Anna Karenina, Grange Hill, Harry’s Game, The Gentle Touch, Dempsey and Makepeace, The House of Eliott, Dangerfield.
Like many of her costars, she also starred in a handful of other British soaps including The Bill, Doctors, Heartbeat and Casualty.
Meanwhile she also had a successful stage career, appearing in productions of After Magritte, After Liverpool, Mutatis Mutandis, Melon, What the Heart Feels, Bodies and Life Support.
According to the UlsterActors blog, in 1998 she played Marfa in American produced television movie Crime and Punishment, which was to be her last screen appearance for a considerable period of time, although she continued her stage career.
Most recently, she appeared in Hollyoaks in 2012.
Played: Mr. Dan ‘Frosty’ Foster, PE Teacher
Known for running the PE department in an abrasive manner – Roger Sloman became a fan favourite as the games teacher from the first ever episode of Grange Hill. He’ had an extremely successful stage and screen career since having roles at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, followed by spells in theatre in Nottingham, Birmingham and Sheffield. He toured England and Scotland with the 7:84 theatre company and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Known for running the PE department in an abrasive manner – Roger Sloman became a fan favourite as the games teacher from the first ever episode of Grange Hill.
He’ had an extremely successful stage and screen career since having roles at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, followed by spells in theatre in Nottingham, Birmingham and Sheffield. He toured England and Scotland with the 7:84 theatre company and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
He also played Keith in Mike Leigh’s Nuts in May, as well as Baldy Davitt in Ripping Yarns, Three-Fingered Pete in The Black Adder and Right Bleedin’ Bastard in The Young Ones.
Roger also played Rocky Wesson in the ITV series Crossroads, and as the funeral director Les Coker in the BBC Series Eastenders.
Played: Mr. E. ‘Tweety Bird’ Starling, Headmaster
Known for his role as the stern headmaster Mr Starling to Grange Hill fans, Denys Hawthorne was born into a well-to-do Protestant family in Northern Ireland.
Known for his role as the stern headmaster Mr Starling to Grange Hill fans, Denys Hawthornee was born into a well-to-do Protestant family in Northern Ireland.
He read law at Queen’s University, Belfast, and then settled on a career in the theatre, quickly establishing himself as one of the leading actors in the Group Theatre in Belfast.
He then moved to London and produced radio dramas for the BBC in the early 1970s, before his role in Grange Hill.
He was married to Rita Christina, whom he married in 1970, and was stepfather to her three children, Desmond, Sean and Aine.
He died in 2009, a stroke affected his memory and stopped him acting in his final years.
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