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Mr Bronson was the terrifying teacher from Grange Hill who went to school in Aberdeen

Michael Sheard played the legendary Grange Hill teacher from 1985 to 1989.

Everyone stood still when he bellowed: “You, boy!”

Michael Sheard struck terror into the hearts of pupils in TV’s Grange Hill in the 1980s as the tyrant teacher Maurice Bronson.

And it remained one of his favourite creations.

Yet few knew his roots were in Aberdeen.

He later wrote a book about his experiences in the part, entitled Yes, Mr Bronson: Memoirs of a Bum Actor, which had a foreword by Sir Roger Moore.

Grange Hill legend Michael Sheard shows off a copy of his memoir back in 1998. Photo: Tony Larkin/Shutterstock.
Grange Hill legend Michael Sheard shows off a copy of his memoir back in 1998. Photo: Tony Larkin/Shutterstock.

Grange Hill creator Sir Phil Redmond will turn the defunct children’s TV series into a film in 2023 but sadly Mr Bronson won’t be there to scare the life out of pupils.

Sheard passed on at the age of 67 in 2005, but he certainly left his mark.

He was born at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital to Church of Scotland minister Donald Perkins and his wife in 1938.

He was raised in Carlton Place in the city’s west end and attended Aberdeen Grammar School.

‘You have failed me for the last time’

Perhaps surprisingly, he wasn’t pushed towards a life in the clergy like his father and first discovered film at Aberdeen’s Capitol Cinema in Union Street.

He moved to England when he was 15 but regularly returned to Aberdeen to visit his aunt Lesley until her death in the early 1990s.

A young Michael trained at Rada where he took his mother’s maiden name as his stage moniker and learned to ditch his Aberdeen accent.

Donald Sutherland.
Donald Sutherland.

He undertook his National Service with the Royal Air Force before starting his career in 1964 at Perth Rep alongside a young Canadian by the name of Donald Sutherland.

Sheard also met his future wife Ros during his stint at Perth.

They moved back to London and he landed 28 TV roles in his first year.

The ill-fated Admiral Ozzel, in Star Wars as played by the late Michael Sheard.
The ill-fated Admiral Ozzel, in Star Wars as played by the late Michael Sheard.

Sheard was the most recurring character actor on Doctor Who, making six guest appearances, from 1966 in a William Hartnell episode called The Ark, through to a headmaster in Remembrance Of The Daleks with Sylvester McCoy in 1988.

Of course, Doctor Who wasn’t his only science fiction role and Star Wars fans remember him fondly for his appearance in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980.

As Admiral Ozzel, he was choked to death by Darth Vader in a memorable scene which earned him cult status around the world.

Director George Lucas said it was “the best death scene I’ve ever seen”.

He appeared in two of Steven Spielberg’s biggest blockbusters, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, playing a German U-boat captain, and Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade – where he played none other than Adolf Hitler.

That was actually one of five occasions the Aberdeen actor played Hitler in his career, ranging from The Tomorrow People to Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission.

Grange Hill and Mr Bronson

Sheard’s face was instantly recognisable from scores of roles.

But he is best remembered for his role, in the late 1980s, as Maurice Bronson, the super-strict deputy head at Grange Hill.

“He was scary but, as an actor, Mr Bronson was a lovely part to play,” he said.

“Everybody had a Mr Bronson at school.

“I get a lot of mail from people in their early 20s who say that, with hindsight, they learned more from that teacher than all the other teachers put together.

“I wouldn’t have missed dear old Bronson for anything.”

However, he could not recall a Bronson at his old school – Aberdeen Grammar.

Michael Sheard as Mr Bronson in Grange Hill
Michael Sheard was known to millions as Grange Hill’s scary teacher Mr Bronson. Photo: BBC Picture Publicity/PA.

Would Mr Bronson have liked to be Grange Hill’s headmaster?

Sheard wrote in his memoir: “Mr B would have loved it.

“Indeed, when he was appointed to the deputy headship, he allowed himself to believe that it was only a matter of time.

“I built a lot of the character around the fact that Bronson was continually hoping, yearning almost.

“If he’d been asked, he’d have said that, unquestionably, he was the very best man for the job, that he deserved it, that it was his due.

“And yes, if it had happened (against my wishes), Bronson would have been a great headmaster.

“I’d have seen to that!”

No regrets?

Sheard played Bronson from 1985 to 1989 but admitted in his 1997 autobiography that he overstayed his time by two years but had no regrets.

“Never again will I do a job which ties me up for such a long time,” he said.

“I would not have missed Grange Hill for all the tea bags in China, I’m sure you appreciate that, but it has to be said that it did take five years out of my life and career.

“And although I was lucky enough to do some other good work during our breaks, there was a hell of a lot that I was offered which I could not do.

“I don’t regret anything because I loved ‘GH’, but… only once!”

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