Grange Hill. Series Two – Episode One

grange hill s02e01

Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 2nd January 1979

There’s an influx of new faces in the first few episodes of series two. This is because the number of episodes were doubled from series one (from nine to eighteen) so more characters had to be created to share the various plot-lines

Cathy Hargreaves, Susi McMahon and Penny Lewis would all become central characters, whilst others (such as Andrew Stanton and Antoni Karamanopolis) would be placed more in the background, but did step into the limelight occasionally.

Mr Baxter, Mr Sutcliffe and Mr Keating all debuted as well (and would all be major figures in the development of the series during the next few years). A new headmaster, Mr Llewellyn (Sean Arnold) also makes his first appearance here and it doesn’t take long before he’s ruffled more than a few feathers amongst the staff.

Mr Baxter (Michael Cronin) views the new headmaster with disfavour – in his eyes he’s a progressive and his approach is doomed to failure. The Baxter formula for keeping order is quite simple – let them know who’s boss and don’t take any nonsense. Cronin’s pitch-perfect from his first scene as he’s able to bring a nice degree of resigned weariness to Baxter as well as a finely honed sense of irony.

Mr Baxter (like some of the other new arrivals) has presumably been at the school for a while – it’s just that we’ve never seen them. This is something that happens quite often down the years at Grange Hill – pupils and teachers just appear and everybody acts as if they’ve been there for years. And as we work our way through the entire series we’ll see that the reverse is also true – some characters just vanish, with never a word spoken about their fate.

At least the departures in series two (Ann Wilson and Judy Preston) aren’t brushed under the carpet – and in the case of Judy she does appear in the first few episodes before transferring to Brookdale. Ann Wilson is mentioned in the first episode, but we never see her (and by episode three we’re told that she and her family have moved abroad).

It’s interesting to ponder why Judy Preston was written out – as Penny Lewis essentially inherited the character of Ann, Judy could have been moved alongside her as her best friend (instead, another new character – Susi McMahon – was created). Perhaps it was felt that Judy was nice, but too wet.  Her place as Trisha’s friend is taken by Cathy Hargreaves (Lindy Brill). There’s certainly no doubt that Cathy is a more interesting character than Judy and the combination of her and Trisha seemed to click from the start.

Dramatically, this episode seems to be pitched at a higher level than most of series one. After Tucker’s high-jinks accidentally breaks a classroom window, Mr Mitchell finds himself publicly criticised by Mr Llewellyn for leaving his class unattended. The fact that Mr Llewellyn berates him in front of his class is a source of considerable annoyance to him and it’s the first sign that some of the staff are finding relationships with the new head to be rather difficult (this is something that will rumble on for the next few episodes).

The other major plot-thread of the opening episode concerns Benny, who finds himself accused of stealing fifty pence. The theft occurred during a football match between Grange Hill and Brookdale, and Benny was the last person to leave the changing room. He is in possession of a fifty pence piece, which is suspicious, but it’s not solid evidence. However, it’s enough to convince some of his team-mates, who tell Mr Baxter that they won’t play if Benny’s in the team.

3 thoughts on “Grange Hill. Series Two – Episode One

  1. I read an interview with the woman who played Judy who said her parents wanted her to leave so she could concentrate on her school work hence the write out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What I find a little odd about Series 2 of Grange Hill is that Tucker’s year are still in their first year of secondary school.

    This series seems to take place later the same term as Series 1, however at some point later on, the original cast of 1978 seem to ‘skip’ a year of their school lives.

    Presumably, they are second years in Series 3 (when Pogo & co arrive), but by Series 5 (when Zammo’s lot make their debut), Tucker’s crew are in the fifth year.


    • The structure for Tucker’s year seems to be:
      Series 1 & 2 – first years
      Series 3 & 4 – third years
      1981 Christmas special – fourth years
      Series 5 – fifth years

      It’s an odd structure and I suspect there were nerves about rushing too fast but it also results in a lot of mid school year arrivals and departures that start to strain credulity so it’s easy to see why they switched to a one series = one school year approach.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s