Degrassi Junior High is a Canadian CBC Television teen drama series that was produced from 1987-1989 as part of the Degrassi series. The show followed the lives of a group of students attending the titular fictional school. Many episodes tackled difficult issues such as drug use, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, homosexuality and divorce, and the series was acclaimed for its sensitive and realistic portrayal of the challenges of teenage life. The cast comprised mainly non-professional actors, which added to the show's sense of realism.
Degrassi Junior High
spanned 42 episodes, covering grades 7 through 9. The first half of the first season premiered January 18
with 13 episodes. New episodes screened on Sunday afternoons, and was brought up to prime time
in the first season's second half. Some of the characters were in grades 7-8, and in the second part of the first season the characters remained in the same grades, as the half-season was not their next academic school year, but instead, their second semester (the first season happened in the 1987-1988 school year). The characters were in grades 8 and 9 in the second season of the series. The ninth-graders stayed in junior high
, but attended science class at Borden High School. The series ended with Degrassi Junior High being burnt down at a dance. All the characters then went on to high school in Degrassi High
It followed the series The Kids of Degrassi Street, and directly preceded the series Degrassi High.
The program also aired on PBS in the United States, the BBC in the UK and Western Europe, and the ABC in Australia. A DVD containing all the show's episodes was released in October 2005 concurrent with airings of the show on the U.S. cable network Noggin. In Australia, as of 2008, it is being re-run on the digital network ABC2.
Fabulous Films in the UK released in 2007 a three-disc complete first season DVD set of Degrassi Junior High. Fabulous Films also has the rights to The Kids Of Degrassi Street that will be released early in 2008.
In 1987 Degrassi Junior High won an International Emmy in the Children and Young People category for the episode "It's Late", where Christine "Spike" Nelson gets pregnant. Spike's baby was named Emma to commemorate the award.
Degrassi Junior high
was filmed at the unused Vincent Massey Junior School in Etobicoke, Ontario
- The series featured many of the same actors who had starred on 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, so Degrassi Junior High cannot therefore, be considered a direct spinoff.
- The character of Liz O'Rourke was presented as a new student in the second season, but was clearly seen in a few episodes prior as an extra in the background.
- The character of Dorothy was said to be Arthur Kobalowski's cousin, but the actress was really his sister in real life.
- The Doctor Sally radio show is based on a call-in radio show entitled the Sunday Night Sex Show. Registered nurse and sex educator Sue Johanson was the host of the program which aired on local Toronto, Ontario radio station Q-107 between 1984 and 1998. Sue Johanson portrays "Doctor Sally" in two Degrassi Junior High episodes.
- In the episode It's Late, Wheels can be clearly seen wearing a Footscray Bulldogs jumper. What is unusual is that the sport, Australian rules football and its competition, the VFL, at the time would have been unknown in Canada. Although the VFL staged several exhibition matches that year, the Bulldogs were not involved and were perhaps the least successful and supported teams in the league. The appearance could possibly be put down to a wardrobe error, but how the jumper appeared there in the first place is a mystery.
- In the first episode, "Kiss Me Steph", several of the grade 8 characters appeared in a grade 7 class. These included Wheels, Heather and Erica (the twins).
- The legal counsel for all the episodes was Stephen Stohn who later became the Executive Producer of Degrassi: The Next Generation.
- Also in the first episode Heather Farrell was called Stacy Farrel.
- Propagandhi wrote a song entitled, "Degrassi Junior High Dropouts."
- Skankin' Pickle wrote a song entitled, "I'm in love with a girl named Spike."
- Spike's baby, Emma, was the inspiration to the spin-off series Degrassi: The Next Generation.
- Throughout much of the first season the twins, Erica and Heather, can clearly be seen in a year 7 class but when they started to have more prominent roles they were changed to year 9 with Stephanie.
Degrassi Junior High had a large ensemble cast where only the ones with dialogue would be placed in the credits. However, essentially all the main cast would act as extras from time to time appearing in the background, and were credited when they would be featured in an episode. Their billing sequence in the closing credits varied, based upon their relative prominence in each respective episode. No cast billing was presented in the opening sequence.
The BBC refused to transmit the episode "Rumour Has It" when screening the first series of Degrassi Junior High because of the central theme of homosexuality. The BBC only screened the first season of the show.
From its first day of broadcasting in 1992, UK Gold screened Degrassi Junior High daily. The channel then screened Degrassi High in its entirety.