Byker Grove

Byker Grove
Genre Teen drama
Created by Adele Rose
Andrea Wonfor
Developed by BBC
Zenith Entertainment
Directed by Various
Starring Various
Theme music composer Kane Gang
Simon Etchell
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 18
No. of episodes 344
Executive producer(s) Andrea Wonfor (1989–90)
Ian Squires (1990–92)
Ivan Rendall (1992–95)
Matthew Robinson (1995–98)
Producer(s) Matthew Robinson (1989–95)
Helen Gregory (1995–97)
Stephen McAteer (1997–99)
Morag Bain (1999–01)
Edward Pugh (2002–05)
Tim Holloway (2006)
Production location(s) Newcastle upon Tyne
Running time 25 minutes
Original network BBC One (1989–2006)
Picture format 4:3 (1989–2000)
16:9 (2001–2006)
Original release 8 November 1989 (1989-11-08) – 10 December 2006 (2006-12-10)
External links

Byker Grove is an English television series which aired between 1989 and 2006 and was created by writer Adele Rose and producer Andrea Wonfor. The show was broadcast at 5.10pm after Newsround (later moved to 5pm) on CBBC on BBC One. 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 therefore centred on young teenagers crossing the bridge from childhood to adulthood. 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.

Famous people

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,[1] 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 now starred in the American TV series Sons of Anarchy and co-starred in Pacific Rim. Founder producer/director (1989–95) was Matthew Robinson who, after Byker Grove, became executive producer of EastEnders, Head of Drama BBC Wales and now runs Khmer Mekong Films in Cambodia. It 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 was Brian B. Thompson, who wrote 50 episodes over 12 series. Byker Grove gave Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper his first break into TV drama when he directed four episodes in 1997.[2]


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 & Wear area) and other landmarks in the real Byker (such as the Byker Wall and surrounding estate) are 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 90s). After the success of the 1st 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. The building housed the actual set, production offices, make up suite and costume department. Currently the property is semi-vacant, and the Zenith North Television signs have been removed outside the building.

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.[3]

On 11 March 2008, it was reported that Gallowgate Productions TV, the TV production company owned by Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, purchased the rights to Byker Grove after the production company that made it (Zenith Entertainment) went into liquidation in 2007. According to reports, the reason Ant & Dec decided to purchase the rights was to stop a digital channel showing repeats featuring the duo during their time in the series, though this has neither been confirmed or denied by the duo themselves.[4]

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 & Dec, Donna Air, Charlie Hardwick and Andrew Hayden-Smith. Jill Halfpenny and Si King were absent due to work commitments.

Rival youth clubs

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.

Filming for Denwell Burn Youth Club for Series 15 was 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. In Series 16 (2004), a different youth club, Jesmond Grange (pejoratively referred to by the Grovers as "Jezzie Grange"), became a new rival to the Grove.


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. In November 1994, Byker Grove became the first British drama to broach the subject of "coming out of the closet" when Noddy Fishwick kissed his close friend Gary Hendrix at the back of a cinema. This scene caused outrage in the British tabloids,[5] a Sun editorial calling for producer Matthew Robinson to be sacked. However the BBC strongly backed the storyline which received countrywide support from gay teenagers, many teachers, and parents.[1] The 2004 series saw the character of Bradley agonising over his sexuality and eventually coming out of the closet 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.[1]

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.

The bands of Byker Grove

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

  • Michelle Charles – "The Best Thing In My Life", "For the Good Times"
  • PJ & Duncan — who became Ant & Dec for The Cult of... album (Singles: "Let's Get Ready to Rhumble", "Better Watch Out", "We're On The Ball")
  • Byker Grooove – girl band starring Donna Air ('Charlie'), Jayni Hoy ('Leah') and Vicky Taylor ('Angel') whose single "Love Your Sexy" reached UK No. 47 in December 1994. Byker Grooove evolved into the duo Crush with Jayni Hoy and Donna Air. (Singles included "Jellyhead" (UK No. 50) and "Luv'd Up" (UK No. 45) on Telstar Records.)[6] In the United States, where Byker Grove did not air and nor was the group promoted as being associated with the series, "Jellyhead" reached No. 72 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1996.[7]
  • Summer Matthews – aka Emma Miller (Single: "Little Miss Perfect")
  • Point Break, boyband which included Brett Adams and David Oliver, who played Noddy and Marcus respectively. (Singles include "Freakytime" on Eternal Records.)

Other bands with links to Byker Grove include:

  • Freefaller – includes member of Point Break
  • Kane Gang – writers of the original theme music, a development from the "Ooh Gary Davies on your radio" jingle for BBC Radio 1.

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.

Character Actor Duration Role
Geoff Keegan Billy Fane 1989–2000 (character died) Youth leader
Akili Johnson Patrick Miller 2000–2006
Alison Fletcher Vicky Murray 1989–1996 Assistant Youth Leader
Sian Charlie Hardwick 1996–1999, 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)
Tina Meredith Lynne Wilmot 2000–2002
Dom Meredith Daymon Britton 2002–2006
Cher Coates Jody Baldwin 2003 (former Grove member)
Chrissie Harrison Sarah Lawton 2003–2006
Mary O'Malley Lyn Douglas 1989–1991 Other staff
Rajeev Patel Daniel Larson 1989
Steve "Brad" Bradley Michael Nicholson 1989–1991, 1995
Gwen Linda Huntley 1990
Dexter Dutton Gavin Kitchen 1990–1992
Lloyd Graham Overton 1991–1992

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 DobsonJill Halfpenny1989-92 (4 series)
Martin "Gill" GillespieCaspar Berry1989-90 (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 Donnelly1989-94; 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)
GregDale Meeks1990-94 (appeared sporadically in the series)
Peter "PJ" JenkinsAnthony McPartlin1990-93; 2000 (returned for Geoff's funeral)
Jan PetersonMarten Lind1990 (1 series)
RobertChristopher Hardy1990-91 (2 series)
Paul SkerrettJoe Caffrey1990-92 (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 CharltonDonna Air1992-95 (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 (6 series)
Dale PuttifootLeslie Baines1993-93 (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)
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)
Ben CarterAndrew Hayden-Smith1997-2003 (7 series)
Nat GuinaneAlexia Gibb1997-2001 (5 series)
Ollie GuinaneLouis Watson1997-2001 (5 series)
Emma MillerHolly Matthews1997-2003 (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 (1 series)
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 SummerbeeChelsea Halfpenny2003-06*
BinnieJonny Ferguson2003-06*
FlipIan Daniell2003 (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 Henslop2005-06*
Jessica JonesJulianne Johnson2005-06*
Charlotte MurrayAltea Claveras2005-06*
"Gadget" TilbrookDaniel Watson2005-06*
Madelaine WattsAnna Udall2005 (1 series)
DavidJames Hadley2005 (1 series)
NathanAdam Gibb2005 (1 series)
VickyJo McGarry2005 (1 series)
Jason MasonScott Turnbull2006*
Toni ArmitageHazel Pude2006*

* 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 BellDenise Welch1990-91 (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, Bridget, Teraise (and others not shown on screen)1993-2001 (9 series)
Maeve O'HaganPatricia Maria Dunn1993-95 (3 series)
Peter TurnbullBez 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


  1. 1 2 3 Duke, Simon (20 October 2014). "Byker Grove: Five memorable moments from the hit Newcastle TV series".
  2. "Tom Hooper". IMDb.
  3. Newsround. (13 May 2006). Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  4. "Ant & Dec go to Buy-ker Grove?". The Sun. 11 April 2008. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
  5. Cobbing, Francesca Williams and Murphy (7 November 2014). "When Spuggie and Dec met Ant" via
  6. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 128. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. "Album Search for "crush"". AllMusic.
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