Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Zammo Maguire - The 80's Tucker Jenkins!....

It is impossible to think about Grange Hill in the 1980s without mentioning the character of Samuel ‘Zammo’ Maguire, the cheeky chappy whose life spiralled into heroin addiction in one of children’s television’s most ground-breaking storylines. Actor Lee MacDonald played Zammo for six years and helped to make Zammo one of the iconic characters of the 1980s.

Lee MacDonald was best known for playing the part of Zammo Maguire in the classic children's TV series Grange Hilll from 1982-1987. Since then he has made cameo appearances on Birds of a Feather, The Bill and a TV version of A Midsummers Night Drream. He trained as a boxer, but a car crash left him unable to fight anymore. He now runs a Locksmith/key-cutting shop in Wallington, Surrey. He learned this trade while filming Grange Hill, and opened his business around 1999.

He appeared in the Sky One show Clique de Celebrite until he was voted out on the fourth show. He was however invited back when Sophie Anderton left due to injury, but was again voted out on the seventh show of the series.

In October 2008, Lee appeared in Three's Celebrity Scissorhands , where celebrities learn to cut hair and do other beauty treatments, raising money for BBC Children In Need.

Zammo was the new school hero, the boy everyone wanted to be. His early years at Grange Hill were a riotous mischief-fest with stooge Jonah and others. A cheeky chappie, Zammo never took school life seriously but was sensitive to others' feelings. He would stick up for Roland when he was getting a hard time. But the later years would be more difficult for Zammo. The spectre of Bronson and the Jackie-Banksie love triangle became too much to bear and Zammo descended into heroin addiction. With the support of family and friends Zammo pulled back from the brink and returned to the sixth form looking to the future
Without doubt Grange Hill's most controversial storyline was that of Zammo's heroin addiction in 1986. When plans for a "junkie" character were first announced there was tabloid outrage. But Zammo's plight did much to raise awareness of drug-related issues. The cast released a single, "Just Say No", in April 1986 and it peaked at No. 5 in the charts, raising over £103,000 for the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse (SCODA).
Just Say No - the single
The Grange Hill cast went on an anti-drugs tour across the country and Lee MacDonald, who played Zammo, found himself particularly in demand. But the icing on the cake was an invitation to the White House by America's First Lady, Nancy Reagan, in May 1986. Mrs Reagan was involved in the American "Just Say No" project and had heard about Grange Hill's campaign. So the cast and crew jetted off to Washington, along with producer Ronald Smedley. Sadly the credibility of "Just Say No!" has been tarnished in recent years; actor Mmloki Chrystie confirmed in a 2005 Grange Hill reunion special that the he took drugs while in the States to promote the campaign.
Drugs would feature in less high-profile storylines. 1995 saw Anna Wright selling them for her brother Gordon and four years later, Sarah-Jane Webster found herself addicted to temazepam