ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Should I Watch..? 'Gregory's Girl' (1981)

Updated on April 3, 2022
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin is a former volunteer DJ at his local hospital radio station. He has been reviewing films online since 2004.

Promotional poster for the film
Promotional poster for the film | Source

What's the big deal?

Gregory's Girl is a romantic coming-of-age comedy film released in 1981 and was written and directed by Bill Forsyth. The film features an ensemble cast mainly comprised of youngsters from Glasgow's Youth Theatre including John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn, singer Clare Grogan and Caroline Guthrie. The film is set in and around a secondary school in Cumbernauld, Scotland and focuses on the efforts of hapless teenager Gregory to hook up with stunning female football player Dorothy. The film remains popular among critics and it went on to gross more than $25 million worldwide - a good return on its meagre budget. The film would also lead to a sequel - Gregory's Two Girls - in 1999 but it was not as well received at the earlier film and much less successful.


4 stars for Gregory's Girl

What's it about?

Gregory Underwood is an awkward teenager struggling in front of goal in his school's football team. So bad is his goal-drought that the frustrated coach Mr Menzies offers Gregory's place on the team to anyone who impresses him during a trial. This means moving Gregory to the unglamorous position of goalkeeper - a position previously occupied by Gregory's friend Andy. To the coach's surprise and Gregory's delight, a blonde student named Dorothy turns up and wins her place on the team.

His heart truly won over by Dorothy, Gregory realises that he is not the only boy in school who is attracted to her. Reluctantly asking his young sister Madeline for advice, Gregory plucks up the courage to ask Dorothy out. But typically, things get out of hand and unable to rely on friends Andy or Steve, Gregory accidentally finds himself spending the evening with Dorothy's friend Susan. But is this really such a bad thing?


What's to like?

For anyone convinced that Scotland's only contributions to entertainment were Trainspotting and endless episodes of TV cop show Taggart, the film comes as a genuine shock. It's a beautifully crafted reminder of school days fading from your memory while the tortured tale of unrequited love and hormones running rampant is instantly familiar to audiences everywhere. It's so refreshing to see a teenage movie that isn't populated with impossibly good-looking Americans, wall-to-wall sunshine and characters desperate to rid themselves of their virginity as though it was some sort of fatal disease.

Sinclair delivers a wonderfully awkward performance as Gregory whose inane prattle and gangly features almost feel a little too realistic. Grogan, though, is a revelation - her trademark pinball smile lights up Gregory's Girl far better than Hepburn who comes across as little more than the unobtainable fantasy poster-girl. Forsyth does a great job of eliciting these performances from his young cast as well as expanding interest beyond the key players. I loved the random appearances of a pupil dressed in a penguin costume wandering the halls looking for the right room - it gives the film a brief moment to indulge in some proper comedy before going back to the main story. It might not look it but this actually has a lot going for it.

It's refreshing to see British schools in the movies instead of their glamorous Hollywood equivalents
It's refreshing to see British schools in the movies instead of their glamorous Hollywood equivalents | Source

Fun Facts

  • For its release in America, the film was redubbed with more anglicised Scottish accents so viewers would not be put off. A similar problem effected the US release of Trainspotting which used subtitles instead.
  • Hepburn was spotted by Forsyth dancing in a TV commercial for a department store. In preparation for the role, she undertook six weeks training alongside Partick Thistle FC.
  • Several months before filming, Grogan suffered facial injuries after having a drinking glass thrust into her face. In all her close-up scenes, she is shot from only one side while all other shots required mortician's wax to hide the scar.

What's not to like?

I have a small confession to make - my late wife was from Scotland (not too far away from Cumbernauld, actually) so I did have a little practise with the accent beforehand! Assuming that your spouse isn't from the Highlands, the accents might prove problematic if you're not used to hearing them. My advice is to check out the trailer above and see how you get on - it isn't as impenetrable as something like Trainspotting but it does take a while to get used to it.

Maybe there was something I missed but I did feel that the story wasn't strong enough to sustain the film's duration. It needed something else to give it a bit of a boost as the film's sedate pacing and quirky feel might also not appeal to today's attention-craving audiences. It feels quite dated - not just in its style of story-telling but also in terms of the fashions and haircuts of the time. It's a very atypical teenage movie and if, like me, you're bored of the usual torrent of teen filth from the States then this will come as welcome relief. However, anyone expecting anything as titillating as an American teen movie will be bored stiff (if you'll forgive the pun).

Singer and future "Red Dwarf" star Clare Grogan debuted in the film
Singer and future "Red Dwarf" star Clare Grogan debuted in the film | Source

Should I watch it?

UK viewers will probably enjoy it more but Gregory's Girl is a subtly bittersweet foray into our own teenage neuroses and hang-ups. Beneath its cold Scottish exterior lies a film of gentle warmth and humour that is remarkably different from a number of its contemporaries. It doesn't concern itself with toilet humour or bodily functions but merely the eternal torment between aching heart and befuddled brain. Stay away from that sequel, though...

Great For: people who have lived through such awkwardness, Scottish viewers, people fed up of endless rip-offs of American Pie

Not So Great For: kids about to hit puberty, anyone who dislikes "soccer", anyone who struggles with accents

What else should I watch?

British teen movies have usually differed from their American counterparts by being a bit more cerebral. Films like Cemetery Junction, Bend It Like Beckham and If.... might lack a little of the punch associated with their Yank cousins but are fine examples of movies showing teenagers displaying more than a simple desire to get laid as soon as possible.

However, a number of teen movies seem to be wholly consumed with ever-elaborate tales of young boys (it's nearly always from a male perspective) and their epic quests to get their rocks off. American Pie is the one that always stands out because it made a tonne of money and spawned endless sequels but similar films include The Girl Next Door, Weird Science and Superbad. The jokes might vary in taste and of course, the casts also change but these and other films are generally pretty much of a muchness. Not to my tastes but they still seem incredibly popular so maybe I'm missing something.

Main Cast

John Gordon Sinclair
Gregory Underwood
Dee Hepburn
Clare Grogan
Caroline Guthrie
Jake D'Arcy
Coach Phil Menzies
Robert Buchanan

Technical Info

Bill Forsyth
Bill Forsyth
Running Time
91 minutes
Release Date (UK)
23rd April, 1981
Comedy, Drama, Romance

© 2016 Benjamin Cox


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)