Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 1st March 1978
Episode four was the first (but certainly not the last) time that Grange Hill found itself courting controversy. This centered around the unsupervised swimming lesson which saw Tucker and his friends running amok in the pool.
Given that there were two teachers, Mr Mitchell and Mr Malcolm (Christopher Coll) on duty, it does feel slightly contrived that both of them were absent. The reason why one of them had to leave (a boy injured his foot) is reasonable enough, but when he only suffered a fairly small cut, did they really both have to carry him away?
Tucker, Benny and Alan decide to throw some of the benches into the pool and have a race – whilst being cheered on by the other boys. The only one who doesn’t join in is Justin (who’s no doubt still smarting from the fact that Tucker stole his trousers during their previous swimming lesson). He runs off to find the caretaker and when Mr Malcolm returns he has his own way of dealing with the miscreants.
His punishment (a ban from swimming for three weeks and a detention) does seem incredibly lenient though – anything could have happened in his absence and it’s remarkable that there’s no further action taken. Perhaps this is because Mr Malcolm is well aware that he and Mr Mitchell were at fault and considers it to be best to leave things as they are.
Tucker would later turn into something of a loveable rogue, but he’s simply a rogue here. His wild behaviour would continue in episode six, but the events there seem to finally bring him more into line.
4 thoughts on “Grange Hill. Series One – Episode Four”
The character of Tucker is strikingly disruptive in the first series, always physically imposing himself on any space or person, usually by shoving other children and knocking things out of their hands. Todd Carty was a very likable performer right from the start, but the early Tucker would be a really irritating boy. Its only once Doyle, an actively malicious character, gets introduced that Tucker’s qualities become more apparent in comparison.
It’s hard not to feel that when Tucker receives the cane (after the misadventure with Justin) that he’s certainly earned it! But that seems to bring him to his senses and from then on he becomes the rogue with a heart of gold.
(Only recently discovered this wonderful blog, and as as a fellow dissector-of-old-telly, am really enjoying it, especially the entries for ‘Grange Hill).
If I recall correctly, this episode caused a bit of an uproar of complaints from parents (the usual letters to ‘Points of View’ / ‘Radio Times’, etc.) when it was first shown, and as a result, was not included when the rest of series one was later repeated. I’ve read of this several times over the years, and deciding to look into it via the BBC’s Genome website, I can see that when series one was repeated in August 1978 (after first being shown in February), episode 4 was indeed absent for the repeat run. (A selection of five episodes from the first series seem to have been repeated during the mornings in July 1978; There’s no immediate clues as to what five episodes were shown, but as the first series had nine episodes and this brief run was abbreviated anyway; I’d wager episode 4 was one of the skipped episodes).
Come 1993, when the series began a complete repeat of the first ten years or so as part of the BBC Two’s Sunday morning line-up and furore had long since died down, the missing episode 4 was shown along with the rest of the first series.
I haven’t seen the episode in question for a few years (watching the Classic years, 1978-1990, is on my “to do list”; I previously did it about 10 years ago), but it would be interesting to see how this early “It’s an outrage!!” episode compares to some of the truly hard-hitting episodes of the series (Zammo found out of his head et al).
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The July repeats all have “BBC One Scotland” next to them. Was this one of the rare times when the BBC realised that Scottish school holidays start earlier and actually did an “Except for viewers in Scotland” for them?