1 9 8 7 – 1 9 8 9 (Canada)
42 x 30 minute episodes
The trials and triumphs of students at an urban junior-high school (and later high school) were explored in this Canadian-produced series, which didn’t flinch from tackling serious issues.
The schools were set in the fictitious town of Degrassi, Canada, where the local hamburger hangout was called 13 Busy Street.
This series featured many of the same actors who had starred on The Kids of Degrassi Street a few years earlier, including Stacie Mistysyn, Neil Hope, Anais Granofsky, Sarah Charlesworth and others. However, their character names and family situations had been changed.
Stephanie Kaye (Nicole Stoffman), the 14-year-old school bombshell, is the eighth-grade class president (she won the election by trading kisses for votes). She displays her stunning figure in low cut, tight blouses and short skirts. Steph leaves home dressed as a typical teenage girl and at school, she changes into her sexy attire.
Caitlin Ryan (Stacie Mistysyn), the seventh-grade class beauty, writes for the school newspaper (The Degrassi Digest) and is the school’s crusader, passionately backing any cause she believes in, from animal rights to fighting pollution). She is a promising actress and journalist and has epilepsy (controlled with medication).
Melanie Brody (Sarah Ballingall), a 12-year-old seventh grader, is a boy-shy girl who has an opinion about everything. She was the first girl in her class to develop her figure and apparently, by the episode The Great Race, the first girl in that class to wear a bra. Melanie is a member of the swim team.
Kathleen Mead (Rebecca Haines) is a seventh grader and one of the smartest girls at Degrassi. She is desperately struggling to do her best and make her alcoholic mother proud of her. She wants to be an actress and won the drama award at Degrassi. Kathleen, who founded the Environmental Action Committee at school fears she will gain weight and become unattractive. She later developed a case of bulimia and overcame it with Melanie’s help.
Joey Jeremiah (Pat Mastroianni), an eighth-grader, is the school wiseguy and forever getting into trouble. The detention room and the principal’s office are his second home. He formed a band called The Zit Remedy with his friends Wheels (Neil Hope) and Snake (Stefan Brogen). He keeps pictures of bikini clad ‘Sunshine Girls’ in his locker and held a job as a janitor at radio station CRAZ (91.3 FM).
Arthur Kobalewscuy (Duncan Waugh) is a seventh grader and Stephanie’s brother (their parents are divorced and Stephanie uses her mother’s maiden name). He lives with his father (Stephanie lives with her mother) and has a dog named Phil. His best friend is Yick Yu (Siluck Sayanasy). They call each other “Broomhead” when something goes wrong.
Lucy Fernandez (Anais Granofsky), a pretty black girl, is an eighth grader with an arrest record for shoplifting. She wants to become a dancer but also has aspirations of being a filmmaker. Lucy became a victim of child molestation in the episode A Helping Hand when a substitute teacher named Mr Colby (Marcus Bruce) became attracted to her. Lucy is famous for giving wild parties.
Christine Nelson (Amanda Stepto), called ‘Spike’ by her friends (because of the spiked hairstyle she wears), became pregnant at the age of 14. Though she contemplated having an abortion, she chose to keep and raise the baby (who she named Emma). Fellow student Shane (Bill Parrott), Emma’s father, attempted to help by providing Spike with half his allowance. Shane became the first student to experiment with drugs; he jumped off a bridge and suffered severe brain damage.
Erica (Angela Deiseach) and Heather (Maureen Deiseach) Farrell, teenage twins (birth sign Gemini), are eighth graders and identical in almost every way. As the series progressed they changed: Heather remained the conservative one while Erica chose to live on the wild side. Erica was the first one to date and the first one to become pregnant (at the age of 16).
Erica’s pregnancy drove her and Heather even further apart until Erica chose to have an abortion and found Heather’s support a lifesaver in getting through the ordeal.
Lorraine “LD” Delacorte (Amanda Cook) is captain of the seventh-grade girls’ swim team and a member of the girls’ soccer team. She is a staunch supporter of girls’ sports and lives with her widowed father, who owns a gas station. At age 15, LD developed leukaemia and missed much of her freshman year at Degrassi High.
Michelle Arsepi (Maureen McKay), originally a very shy eighth grader, grew out of that shell when she was 16. She began dating a black student named Bryant Thomas (Dayo Ade) and eventually moved into her own apartment when she could no longer get along with her father, supporting herself by working as a waitress at the Donut Express.
Alexa (Irene Courakos), a popular eighth-grader was the only girl who became a threat to Stephanie. While Stephanie considered herself the most beautiful girl at Degrassi and lived to gain the boys’ attention, Alexa was simply herself and got the boy Stephanie wanted – Simon (Michael Carry).
Liz O’Rourke (Cathy Keenan), “the girl with the weird hair” (crew cut in back, long on the sides, bangs in front) is an animal rights activist who possesses a tough exterior but is actually very sensitive. When she first arrived at Degrassi, she had a reputation of being easy.
Degrassi developed a sizable and enthusiastic following and aired in some 40 countries.
Christine ‘Spike’ Nelson
Lorraine ‘LD’ Delacorte
Derek ‘Wheels’ Wheeler
Archie ‘Snake’ Simpson