It’s 30 years since choreographer Lydia Grant bashed the floor of the New York School for the Performing Arts with her stick and told students: “You’ve got big dreams. You want fame. Well fame costs and right here’s where you start paying…in sweat.”
But who knew that when Fame – the TV version of Alan Parker’s 1980 big-screen hit – debuted on BBC1 on Thursday 17 June at 8.10pm, it would go on to spawn hit singles, a No 1 album and live concert tours?
In the intervening three decades, it’s fair to say that the fortunes of its original line-up has been mixed – Lee Curreri (who played keyboard prodigy Bruno Martelli) has capitalized on his musical talents by carving out a career scoring movies and TV shows, while actress Debbie Allen (Lydia) currently plays Dr Catherine Avery in US medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.
But unfortunately Gene Anthony Ray, who starred as street-smart dancer Leroy Johnson, found that his later life was blighted by drink and drugs. In 1996, he was diagnosed HIV positive and died in 2003 following complications from a stroke.
Yet in their heyday, the budding performers could do no wrong: the show inspired a fashion craze for leggings and sweat bands, while the soundtrack – The Kids from Fame – topped the charts. So why not time-travel back to 1982 and join Danny, Doris and the rest in this collection of Fame hits. And feel free to share your memories of the stage-school starlets:
Hi Fidelity – Doris rocks it in a music store while Bruno accompanies on synthesizer.
Starmaker – the cast pays tribute to departing drama teacher Mr Crandall. The scene has added poignancy due to the fact that actor Michael Thoma was nearing the end of his battle against cancer.
Friday Night – Danny (Carlo Imperato) gets his moment in the spotlight.
It’s Gonna Be a Long Night – shy cellist Julie (Lori Singer) performs her ballad.