WHEN the news broke earlier this year that East Dene in Bonchurch was to close, several members of the We Grew Up on the Isle of Wight Facebook group remembered that some of hit children’s television show, Grange Hill, was filmed there.

As reported in the September 16, 1988, edition of the County Press (main image above), the show was filmed at East Dene during that year.

Scroll through our gallery of pictures above to see more...

Series 12, episodes 13 and 14, featured Grange Hill pupils visiting the Isle of Wight on a field trip and scenes include the Sealink ferry at Portsmouth, walking up Headon Warren, seeing the trains at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Havenstreet, exploring Priory Bay, staying at East Dene and much more.

A special sea rescue sequence was even staged involving Bembridge lifeboat and its crew.

The television company's description of the episodes stated that: "Gonch sees Mandy in a new light on the Isle of Wight trip. Georgina’s been getting weird notes from an admirer, and Trevor keeps losing his beer."

The episodes also featured popular Grange Hill characters including Ziggy and Mauler, as well as teachers Mr Bronson, Mr MacKenzie and Miss Booth.

During their Isle of Wight trip, the Grange Hill mob encountered a group of pupils from a rival school, played by the Medina High School students, who spent ten days filming the popular television series.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The Grange Hill students' minibus driving into East Dene - the buildings and driveway don't really look any different today. 

Medina drama students involved in the filming included Paul Squirrell, Karen Gray, Sophie Webb, Brett Lagdon, Matthew Pearl and Roland Jones.

Medina High School staff said the production team numbered more than 100, but every effort had been made to cause as little disruption as possible and the students had loved being involved in the filming.

Grange Hill had some other Isle of Wight connections too — the late Anthony Minghella was a script editor in the 1980s, while the late Michael Sheard, who played Mr Bronson, lived in Ryde.

One of the members of the We Grew Up on the Isle of Wight Facebook group, Chris Gardner, was friends with Michael Sheard. Chris recalled Michael being very keen to get some of the episodes of Grange Hill filmed on the Isle of Wight. He said: "I remember Michael telling me he called the BBC with the pitch from the telephone box by Chale Church."

Isle of Wight County Press: Meridian Sandcastle competition at Appley Beach, Ryde. Judges Michael Sheard, left, and Fred Dineage.

Long after his Mr Bronson days, Michael Sheard, left, is pictured with Fred Dineage at Ryde in 2002.

Michael Sheard was famous as Mr Bronson in Grange Hill, whom he played from 1985 and 1989, and for Admiral Ozzel in the Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back. He also  appeared in Doctor Who on several occasions and played Adolf Hitler five times during his long career - one of his Adolf performances was in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He lived in Ryde until his death in 2005.

In Grange Hill, his stern manner and cries of “You, boy” as deputy head Maurice Bronson made him one of television’s most memorable figures.

The late Anthony Minghella was born in Ryde and worked as a writer in television, radio and film, with television credits including Grange Hill and Inspector Morse.

He wrote and directed films such as Truly Madly Deeply, The Talented Mr Ripley, The English Patient and Cold Mountain and he won an Oscar as director of multi award-winning film, The English Patient.

Isle of Wight County Press: Anthony Minghella and Bob Ennis taken in the projection room at Medina Theatre at the premiere of Mr Wonderful in 1993

Anthony Minghella (right) and Bob Ennis taken in the projection room at Medina Theatre, Newport, at the premiere of Mr Wonderful in 1993, which Anthony directed.

Anthony was also a talented musician and even made his operatic directorial debut with Puccini's Madame Butterfly, which premiered at the English National Opera in London in 2005 and also performed at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Vilnius and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Regarding East Dene, members of the We Grew Up on the Isle of Wight Facebook group also had a number of interesting memories of their own - including spooky happenings in the 1980s, which led them to believe the building might be haunted!

READ AGAIN: "We're devastated": East Dene owners announces closure over Covid

Like reading our tales from the Isle of Wight's past? Click here to visit our Looking Back section

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