Grange Hill's Luke 'Gonch' Gardner star is unrecognisable 33 years later after quitting acting to run a casino

GRANGE Hill creator Phil Redmond claimed he is ready to give the show its own movie.

Speaking to The Guardian, the producer said he was hoping to see former actors returning. But John Holmes aka Gonch Gardner is unlikely to be one of them.

More than 30 years later, it's highly unlikely John will be reprising his role as the spectacled money-making schemer as he has turned his back on acting altogether.

Although he can still be seen with his trademark ginger hair and glasses in rare public pictures of him, John looks unrecognisable.

The former actor took a much different path to some of his Grange Hill co-stars.

While some went on to appear in other shows and movies, (or dealt with serious health issues, legal troubles and even homelessness), John went back to school after his time on Grange Hill.

He studied at the University of East Anglia, where he was even given the role of president of the Student Union for several years.

Following his studies, John snubbed the small screen but still managed to follow in Gonch's footsteps.

It is said that, as of 2021, John works as a casino manager.

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Not much else is known about John's new life as he stays away from the limelight.

A handful of the Grange Hill stars were reunited on the set of This Morning in November, 2018 (Paula-Ann Bland, Lee MacDonald and Lisa York), along with Phil Redmond, but John was nowhere to be seen.

Although Gonch was his big break, John's acting credits also include appearances in the movie Runners (1983) and the show Nanny (1981).

John may not have stuck to acting, but he is never too far away from the spotlight as he is the older brother of actress Kelda Holmes.

Kelda appeared in Press Gang, Two of Us and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman,played Hannah in the BBC Radio 4 series of Second Thoughts and has starred in numerous plays.

Luke "Gonch" Gardner's character was first introduced to viewers in 1985 and was known for being a real wheeler-dealer, running a dating agency, a toast bar and his own PE Kit lending scheme.

Born on May 12, 1970, John was 15 at the time of his first appearance on the programme, and he remained a fan-favourite alongside Hollo (Bradley Sheppard).

John (later credited as John McMahon) eventually left the programme in 1989, after a four-year stint – and a storyline during which he fell in love with Mandy Freemont.

One of the longest-running British programmes, Grange Hill first aired in February, 1978, on BBC One, and ended its run on September 15, 2008, although it was known to trigger controversy due to its gritty portrayal of school life.


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