Lee MacDonald, best known to UK audiences as Zammo McGuire from Grange Hill, is set to make his television acting return after a 32 year absence from our screens.
The news has been confirmed that MacDonald will be joining the cast of EastEnders, despite the fact that for the last few decades he’s been busy running a key-cutting business after leaving the world of show business.
Former child star MacDonald played Zammo on Grange Hill from 1982 to 1987, and quickly became one of the programme’s most recognisable characters thanks to his controversial drugs storyline.
Eighties kids will remember that poor old Zammo becomes addicted to heroin before eventually managing to get clean – thanks to joining Narcotics Anonymous during the school holidays.
MacDonald’s infamous character then went on to lead the rest of the Grange Hill cast to a Top Ten hit in the UK with the anti-drugs charity song ‘Just Say No’.
Now it looks as though MacDonald will be making a triumphant return to the small screen after EastEnders bosses managed to lure him back to television.
One source revealed:
“EastEnders have made some surprise signings in the past and this is up there.
“Nobody saw this coming but it’s a great nostalgia trip for viewers.”
Apparently MacDonald will feature in two episodes of EastEnders this summer. His character has already been confirmed too – the former Grange Hill star will be playing a bus driver who competes against Mick Carter (the landlord of the Queen Vic) in a radio competition to try and win some concert tickets. Bizarre!
MacDonald himself has spoken out about the upcoming appearance: “I am absolutely chuffed to bits and so excited to be briefly joining the cast of EastEnders. I can’t say too much yet but watch this space. Top banana!”
The former child star left Grange Hill to pursue a career as a boxer. He also earned himself some small roles in TV shows such as Birds of a Feather and The Bill before eventually leaving entertainment behind for good. He bought a locksmiths in Wallington, South London and has been there ever since.
MacDonald explained: “My agent wants me to drop the shop. She says I should try and push myself as an actor and not a locksmith. But I’m quite happy to say I’m a locksmith, ’cos that’s what pays the mortgage!”
His most recent appearance on British television came in 2008, when MacDonald joined his former co-star Erkan Mustafa (aka Roland Browning) to star in a child stars edition of Pointless Celebrities.
What do you think of MacDonald’s appearance on the soap? Let us know in the comments section!
Grange Hill was a long-running children’s drama series that first hit British screens in 1978, before finally coming to an end in 2008. At its peak in the 80s, it was possibly the most talked-about television show in the school playground. Grange Hill wasn’t afraid to tackle controversial subjects and that’s why people loved it so much.
In the article below, we take a look back at some of your favourite characters and see what the people who brought these characters to life are up to nowadays. Want to know where the cast of Grange Hill are now? Then keep reading below to find out more!
1. Lee MacDonald – Zammo Maguire
Let’s start off with far and away the most controversial character in the show. Audiences around the UK were gripped by Zammo’s struggles with heroin addiction. The storyline taught us about the dangers of drugs and lead to the ‘Just Say No’ campaign.
Actor Lee MacDonald got involved in boxing after leaving the show. Unfortunately, he had to quit the sport in 1990, following a car accident. Lee now owns a key cutting business based in London.
2. Mark Savage – Gripper Stebson
Gripper Stebson was one of the big TV villains of the 80s. The school bully was disliked by teachers, pupils and by us viewers at home as we watched him making other students lives a misery. Definitely a character we all remembered from our own days at school.
Mark Savage has continued his acting career and recently appeared in the 2014 movie, Dangerous Minds of a Hooligan. He also co-owns a film company.
3. Michael Cronin – Bullet Baxter
PE teacher Mr Baxter was not to be messed with. He was best known for the moment when he punched the bullying games teacher, Mr Hicks. Nice one Baxter!
Actor Michael Cronin has appeared in many roles on TV and in the theatre. He recently starred in the BBC TV drama Merlin and the ITV drama Vera. His first novel, Against the Day was shortlisted for the 1999 Angus Book Award. He also appeared in the 2013 movie, In Secret.
4. Erkan Mustafa – Roland Browning
Poor Roland, we all felt so sorry for him as he was bullied by Gripper but we also loved watching his confidence grow and his character flourish. Roland was definitely a popular character amongst viewers of Grange Hill. But what is the actor who played him up to today?
Following Grange Hill, Erkan Mustafa appeared in Blackadder and in Lenny Henry’s sitcom, Chef. He has just worked on a short film called The All Nighter which was directed by Lee Phillips.
5. Todd Carty – Tucker Jenkins
Tucker Jenkins was one of the most popular Grange Hill characters. Tucker was a bit of a cheeky student who got into plenty of trouble but he often came to the aid of any fellow students who were being bullied. He even got his own spin-off show called Tucker’s Luck.
Actor Todd Carty played big parts in Eastenders and The Bill. He has appeared on Celebrity Masterchef and Dancing On Ice. Recently, he has starred in a number of pantomimes including Jack and The Beanstalk in 2016.
6. Michelle Herbert – Trisha Yates
Rebellious Trisha was always getting in trouble for wearing make up and flouting school rules. She was a really believable character and definitely one of the naughty girls at Grange Hill who went through quite the transformation as the show went on.
Actress Michelle Herbert quit acting and now owns a family glazing business. She recently underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Michelle has also appeared in a number of national newspapers to try and raise awareness of breast cancer symptoms.
7. Simone Nylander – Janet St Clair
Ro-laaaand….. Janet St Clair was lovely, always looking out for her poor friend Roland. She was a diligent, kind and caring student who went out of her way to try and get Roland to fit in at Grange Hill. Bless her!
Actress Simone Nylander ended up living with her friend Russell Brand for a while, after they met at university. She occasionally does modelling work and has worked for Simon Fuller’s 19 Management organisation.
8. Susan Tully – Suzanne Ross
Popular Suzanne Ross was another Grange Hill rebel who would regularly stand up to bullys and teachers. She had a number of different looks during the series, including a stint as a Material Girl. She was good friends with Claire Scott.
After playing Michelle Fowler in Eastenders from 1985 to 1995, Susan has gone on to become a Director, working on recent shows including The A-Word, Silent Witness and Britannia.
9. Paula-Ann Bland – Claire Scott
Claire Scott was another edgy character who caused a stir back in the day thanks to her fantasising about Mr Hopwood. She also had a relationship with Stewpot before finding out that he was seeing Annette Firman behind her back.
Actress Paula-Ann Bland left Grange Hill in 1985 but continued to act in popular series such as Spender and Only Fools And Horses. She also posed topless in Mayfair magazine in the late 80s. Today Bland owns a shoe shop in Knightsbridge and has also started her own PR company.
10. John Alford – Robbie Wright
Robbie Wright was a happy-go-lucky type who will be best remembered for his relationship with Calley Donnington and his friendship with Ziggy Greaves. Since appearing on Grange Hill, John Alford has had a tough time of things.
He was charged with suppling cocaine to the infamous ‘Fake Sheikh’ Mazher Mahmood in 1999 and served a six-week sentence. Since his release, Alford has had bit parts in Casualty and Mile High.
11. Gwyneth Powell – Bridget McClusky
Headmistress Bridget McClusky was played by Gwyneth Powell for over ten years. Powell wanted to make the character more modern than producers had first intended. Powell explained: “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.”
After leaving the series, Powell has starred in a number of successful British TV programmes including Heartbeat, A Touch of Frost and Holby City.
12. Terry Sue-Patt – Benny Green
Benny Green was the first ever character to appear on Grange Hill – quite the honour! Green was a likeable young lad and Terry Sue-Patt has since stated that he basically ‘played himself’ whilst he was on the show. After leaving the programme, Sue-Patt made minor appearances in programmes such as Desmonds and Jackanory.
Sadly Terry died in 2015 after a battle with alcoholism. He was lying face down in his bed, with reports suggesting that he may have been there undiscovered for over a month. Sue-Patt remained friends with Todd Carty, who played his best friend on Grange Hill, for most of his life and Carty later tweeted his sadness at Sue-Patt’s passing.
13. Alison Bettles – Fay Lucas
Fay Lucas starred in six series of the show in the 80s and was one of the cast members who sang on the ‘Just Say No’ single, which was created after Zammo’s struggles with heroin. Lucas used to toy with the affections of her fellow students was popular with male viewers.
Today Alison Bettles is a qualified beauty therapist with four children. She has also reportedly set up her own freight business. Two of her sons are currently breaking into acting and have won roles in Doctor Whoand EastEnders.
14. George Christopher – Ziggy Greaves
Ziggy Greaves was the scouser with a heart of gold who was very similar to Tucker. He arrived on the series in 1986 and spent four years on Grange Hill before leaving in the 90s.
After appearing in several theatre productions, George Christopher now works for a taxi firm.
15. John Holmes – Luke ‘Gonch’ Gardner
Gonch Gardener was the ginger wheeler dealer who was always looking for ways to make money. During his time at Grange Hill, Gonch ran a toast bar, a dating agency and even a homework service from the confines of the classroom.
Actor John Holmes left the show to study at the University of East Anglia, where he became president of the SU for several years! Holmes now manages a casino.