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29 October 2014

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You are in: Tyne > Entertainment > Hollywood On Tyne > Features > Byker Grove

Cast of Byker Grove series nine

Benwell Towers aka the 'Grove'

Byker Grove

Filmed in Benwell and set in Byker, the children's TV series Byker Grove launched a number of Geordie stars.

Byker Grove, the classic BBC children's TV drama set on Tyneside, closed its doors for the last time in 2006 after 17 years on air.

But for those of us who grew up watching the series the antics of Spuggie, PJ, Duncan et al will be remembered fondly for a long time to come.

Early Ant and Dec in Byker Grove

The early days in Byker Grove

Who could forget the tragic paintballing accident that blinded PJ (played by Anthony McPartlin)? Or Spuggie's outburst "I hate yous! I really hate yous!" (Well that's how we remember it anyway).

And then of course there was good old Geoff, the youth club manager, who never seemed to be fazed by anything.

And the "Oooh Byker" theme tune and bouncing characters of the opening credits.

Tyneside talent

Originally created by writer Adele Rose, the show first hit our TV screens in 1989.

Set in the Byker district of Newcastle in and around the Grove youth club, the drama was actually filmed in Benwell.

Byker Grove set

The Byker Grove club room

Benwell Towers, which doubled as the Grove, became a labyrinth of dressing rooms, corridors, studio sets and production offices.

The programme was also a breeding ground for Tyneside acting talent and helped to launch the careers of Ant and Dec, Jill Halfpenny and Andrew Hayden-Smith among others.

A number of ex-Byker cast members also went on to try their hands at music - with assaults on the charts by PJ and Duncan AKA (Ant and Dec), Point Break (Brett Adams and David Oliver), Crush (Donna Air and Jayni Hoy) and others.

Screen deaths

Though a teatime children's programme, Byker Grove did not shy away from tackling controversial topics.

In 1995 it became the first British children's drama to tackle the subject of homosexuality, when Noddy kissed his close friend Gary at the back of a cinema.

Byker Grove characters Sita, Cher and Karen

Sita, Cher and Karen out on the town

Other storylines focused on teenage pregnancy, drug addiction and abortion.

There were also a number of deaths in the series during its 17 years, including that of the much-loved Geoff in a gas explosion in 2000.

Andrew Hayden-Smith's character Ben Carter was knocked down and fatally injured by Craig on the Quayside in 2003 and in 1994 Jemma was electrocuted.

The decision to end Byker's run after 18 series and 344 episodes came as CBBC evolved to focus on a younger primary school audience.

Richard Deverell, Controller of BBC Children's at the time, said: "It has been a great programme for CBBC with some ground breaking storylines over the years.

"It has spawned some excellent talent both on and off screen."

Click on next to find out what some of those Byker  Grove 'graduates' are up to now...

last updated: 22/05/2008 at 15:43
created: 22/05/2008

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You are in: Tyne > Entertainment > Hollywood On Tyne > Features > Byker Grove

Did you know?

Byker Grove first aired in 1989.

The series ran for 17 years, 18 series and 344 episodes.

Filming for the final episode completed in Newcastle on Thursday, 24 August 2006.

The show launched the careers of TV favourites Ant and Dec and actresses Jill Halfpenny and Donna Air.

Byker Grove was actually filmed in Benwell, not Byker.

The theme tune for Byker Grove was written and produced by The Kane Gang.

Pop acts spawned from the series included PJ and Duncan AKA, Crush and Point Break.

Ant and Dec reprised their roles as PJ and Duncan for the episode of Geoff's funeral in 2000.

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