Whatever Happened to the Renford Rejects?

This was about the only post that was in any way popular on an old blog I used to write called Tout Est Possible! With that site now closed, I figured I’d dust it off and bring it over here.

Ah, Renford Rejects. A Jossy’s Giants for the late ’90s, this teen sitcom about the trials and tribulations of a hopeless five-a-side football team was produced and broadcast by Nickelodeon UK between 1998 and 2001, as well as getting terrestrial airings as part of Channel 4’s The Bigger Breakfast school holidays strand. It was most notable for its guest appearances from various figures from the world of football (from Bob Wilson and Jim Rosenthal to Geoff Hurst and, uh, Shaka Hislop), some truly appallingly choreographed on-pitch sequences, and the memorable use of “Australia” by the Manic Street Preachers as its theme tune. But despite – or perhaps because of – these quirks, many of us loved it anyway.

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Have you ever found yourself wondering, though, what happened to all the fresh-faced youngsters who played Renford’s lousiest five-a-side team? Well, no – neither had I. But then I was reading about the casting of Lucy Punch in the TV adaptation of a comic I really like, and remembered that she’d been in the show’s second series. This naturally got me thinking about all the other cast members, even the ones I’d completely forgotten existed, and set me off on twenty minutes* of Wikipedia and IMDb sleuthing to turn up the following mixed bag of fortunes…

* note: approximately fourteen of these minutes were spent looking at pictures of Holly Davidson

HOLLY DAVIDSON (Robin Walker)

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THEN: Casting the then eighteen-year-old and exceedingly cute Davidson as “the girl who could play football” seemed an almost cynical attempt to get teenage boys interested in the show. What can we say: it worked. Robin was the only half-decent player on the Rejects’ team, but left after the first series to go and play for the Chelsea Ladies’ team/go and get better acting jobs.

NOW: Highly sexy model/actress noted for long-running roles in The Bill and Casualty among assorted films, most notably (or not) the risible “comedy” Van Wilder 2: Rise of the Taj. Still probably more famous to the wider world for being Sadie Frost’s sister than anything else, but also now apparently works as a personal trainer.

MARTIN DELANEY (Jason Summerbee)

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THEN: Pretty much the lead character, which meant he was the only one who wasn’t allowed to have any discernible quirks or characteristics. Usually wore Hull City shirts, despite having a Cockney accent.

NOW: Had a stint in Family Affairs for a few years after Rejects finished, and has since had minor roles in various UK TV shows – including Two Pints of LagerRock and Chips and (of course) The Bill – and a few films. In terms of pure volume, probably the busiest of the Rejects cast since, and most recently turned up in The Shadow Line in the glamorous role of “Male Reporter”.

PAUL PARRIS (Bruno di Gradi/Barry Grade)

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THEN: Teenage boy with severe delusional disorder that caused him to believe he was an Italian superstar footballer named “Bruno di Gradi” (rather than a Londoner called “Barry Grade”) and hence spend all his time talking in an outrageously stereotypical and inaccurate Italian accent. Actually a much funnier character than all of that makes him sound.

NOW: The only one of the kids who was known before the series, having had a four-year stint in Grange Hill AND got his obligatory The Bill appearance out of the way beforehand, Parris pretty much retired from TV acting after the heady heights of Bruno di Gradi, and instead moved into theatre work. According to his Wikipedia page, which I suspect he might have had a hand in writing, he “famously proposed to his wife-to-be, actress Filipa Jeronimo onstage at the White Rock Theatre, Hastings at the end of the Christmas Eve production of Aladdin in 2005.” The use of the word “famously” suggests that the delusions didn’t stop with Bruno.

ROGER DAVIES (Vinnie Rodrigues)

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THEN: Vinnie’s schtick was that instead of wanting to be a footballer, he wanted to be a football anchorman – and so he occupied an odd position in the show as a sort of Greek Chorus, rarely actually getting involved in the Rejects’ own plots (since he wasn’t ever, you know, taking part in their matches and stuff) but instead doing cheap home-made VT segments of interviews and reports that would occasionally inexplicably feature Jim Rosenthal.

NOW: Another one who did Family Affairs for a bit post-Renford – and, of course, a couple of eps of The Bill – Roger then went extremely quiet for years before turning up in 2010 in Rufus Hound’s CBBC sitcom Hounded, which I’d never heard of before but having read about it actually sounds rather good.

MATTHEW LEITCH (Stewart Jackson)

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THEN: Posh kid who was the school’s most promising young footballer by far until a serious bout of knee-knack put paid to his on-field exploits and led to him using his nous to coach his new-found chums the Rejects instead. A quite good conceit, which is why they gave up on it at the start of the third series and had him recover from his injury and start playing for them instead, thus neatly removing the one interesting thing about his character.

NOW: Went to the States after leaving Rejects partway through the last series, and almost immediately found further fame with a role in Band of Brothers. Since then, a few odds and sods here and there – and he was one of the prisoners on the boat in The Dark Knight, which is pretty damned cool.

ADAM DEAN (Ronnie Supra)

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THEN: Preening, vain, self-obsessed narcissist more concerned with taking care of his own appearance than interacting with those around him. So, basically a really shit rip-off of The Cat from Red Dwarf, then.

NOW: It may surprise you to learn that, around the same time he was appearing in Renford Rejects, Adam was in an episode of… The Bill. Afterwards, he did an episode of Doctors. And that’s about it. He could well be up to something staggeringly interesting outside of acting nowadays, but “Adam Dean” is quite a common name, and thus difficult to track down on Google unless you’re really determined. Which I’m not.

CHARLIE ROLLAND (Ben Phillips)

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THEN: I liked Ben, back when I originally watched Rejects. He was the goalie. I was a goalie. He wore glasses. I wore glasses. He was a nerd. I was a nerd. He wrote poetry. I wrote poetry. He wore Philosophy Football shirts. I wore Philosophy Football shirts. However, looking back on the episodes now, one thing becomes apparent: Ben was an annoying prat. Draw your own conclusions.

NOW: Charlie Rolland has precisely one credit on IMDb. Charlie Rolland now sells motorbike insurance.

LUCY PUNCH (Sue White)

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THEN: Second-series replacement for Holly Davidson, but with the twist that her character couldn’t actually play football. So I’m not sure why she joined the team, really. Suffered, generally, by virtue of not being Holly Davidson.

NOW: Still not Holly Davidson, but markedly more successful. Did lots of TV work in the early 2000s, before a movie break in Hot Fuzz as Eve Draper (“fingered”). Has now recently all of a sudden started showing up in American films (Dinner For SchmucksBad Teacher) and was cast as the female lead Deena Pilgrim in FX’s pilot of Brian Michael Bendis’s superb superhero crime comic Powers. Which never made it to series in the end, but hey ho.

MEGAN BERTIE (Mia Smith)

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THEN: Third series replacement for Lucy Punch. Slightly more similar in character to Robin, but also couldn’t play either. I can’t remember much else about her.

NOW: Another one for whom Renford Rejects is the only credit on her IMDb page. Appears to have disappeared off face of planet. Can’t even be located in the usual former Rejects haunt of Hastings.

TOM WELLER (Terry Stoker)

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THEN: Cartoonish “bad guy” of the series, Terry was the school bully who played for rivals The Razors and gave the Rejects their name. Unlike the Rejects, who only wore their fetching purple strips while playing, Terry was never seen without his orange Razors shirt. There might be some Freudian analysis to be done there, I’m not sure. To be honest, I wasn’t even going to include him in this article, as I’d completely forgotten that for the final series they inexplicably started including him in the opening titles.

NOW: Rejects seems to have been his only acting job, but if IMDb is trustworthy (and we all know it is), then he later moved into production, working largely on documentaries, including one about “Lottery Chav” Michael Carroll – a character also known for wandering around menacing people while wearing a football shirt. Heh.

MOHAMMED GEORGE (Dennis Quayle)

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THEN: Buggered if I know. Researching this article is the first time I’ve even heard of Dennis Quayle. I’m not sure he’s actually real.

NOW: Loveable Cockney road sweeper Gus Smith on Eastenders from 2002-2008, Mohammed (as he’s now known) was last seen successfully suing The Sun for libel after they falsely accused him of being a “woman beater”. Lovely.

ALEX NORTON (Eddie McAvoy)

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THEN: Elvis-obsessed local cafe owner and sort-of-team-manager. The best thing about the show (not counting Holly Davidson).

NOW: Distinguished Scottish actor Alex Norton is best known for his eight year stint as the lead character in the recently-cancelled Taggart. He’s also done a few films since Renford, including Pirates of the Caribbean – but he’d been doing so beforehand, too, with roles in various Scotland-themed flicks including BraveheartLocal Hero and Gregory’s Girl.

OH… AND HIM

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THEN: Twat.

NOW: Even bigger twat.

And if your nostalgia’s been piqued by any of that, you can watch basically every episode of the show on Youtube thanks to some kind soul. Not me, I hasten to add.

UPDATE: As this article was originally written a few years back, some of the info is out of date. I’m grateful therefore to @RenfordsRejects on Twitter, who immediately after its re-publication here responded with the following additional info about some of the above folk:

 

 


4 Comments on Whatever Happened to the Renford Rejects?

  1. natalie hales // July 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm // Reply

    I LOVED this show! Bruno was my absolute favourite.

  2. Just to point out Bruno was actually from Birmingham not London

  3. Ciara Stevens // July 6, 2016 at 3:20 am // Reply

    Me Too! He is sooo cute! BTW, Paul Parris doesn’t run drama workshops in Isle Of Man, its Jersey, Channel Islands

  4. I used to really enjoy Renford Rejects, Bruno was definitely my favourite character too!

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