Sheffield history: Grease is the word - rewatching Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta classic 44 years on

Last Saturday afternoon I was sitting on my settee with a cuppa in one hand and the remote in the other – a scene no doubt replicated all over the country.

By errol edwards
Friday, 8th April 2022, 9:07 am
Updated Friday, 8th April 2022, 9:08 am

I was flicking up and down the channels when the continuity announcer told us that Grease was starting.

I was immediately transported back to 1978 when this was probably the biggest film of the year?

I was a pupil at Herries comprehensive at the time, and with great relief was able to see this much talked about film at the cinema with friends,

Sign up to our daily newsletter

John Travolta struts his stuff in the hit musical film Grease which he starred in with Olivia Newton-John. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

We went to Cinecenta on Flat Street overlooking Pond Street bus station.

The films principal characters were Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko played by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.

John Travolta had recently starred in the 1977 hit film Saturday Night Fever, a movie with a strong musical score, with music from Bee Gees,and other artists.

It, like Grease, produced a chart topping album.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John at the Festival du Cinéma Américain in Deauville, France on September 9 1978 for a presentation of Grease (Photo by MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP via Getty Images)

I was 13 the first time I saw it, so I thought I’d settle down to watch it again.

The film is a light-hearted musical about American teenagers coming to the end of their last days at school, and relationships they had – principally Danny and Sandy, who’d met during a previous holiday.

To Danny’s (John Travolta) surprise, Sandy became a pupil at his school, looking very much like a grown lady.

As an adult, I watched and listened to questionable lyrics and dialogue, which I hadn't noticed or understood the first time around.

Olivia Newton-John in London in 1978 - the year of the film adaptation of the musical Grease

The film's cast of grown men and women portraying teenagers.

Some of the pupils sporting five o'clock shadows well before noon, the girls looking well into their 20s if not older.

It’s amazing how you can suspend disbelief in order to enjoy a film, as 13 year olds we lapped it up, we needed no convincing.

1978 was a year of many firsts, but like most years events can be forgotten amongst more dominating headlines.

Kate Bush burst onto the music scene with number one hit Wuthering Heights. She was influenced by the television version based on the book by of the same name, written by Emily Bronte.

Anna Ford became the first female news reader, and Viv Anderson became the first black footballer to play for England.

I always remember being greatly relieved to see the film Grease. This relief was caused in part by another blockbuster, a film which changed the world's relationship with sharks forever. The film Jaws, in 1975. I remember the hype.

It was one of the first films I remember, where merchandising was also a big part of its hype. I just remember t-shirts and tank tops with the iconic poster picture on it.

Everyone was talking about the film and specific scenes from the film.

I was desperate to see it , but I was only ten at the time and the film rating was PG so I never got to see it until years later.

In 1978 Jaws 2 came out, so I made sure I got to see it. I saw it at the iconic Studio 5.6.7. on the Wicker, now part of Derek Dooley Way.