Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 15th January 1980
Mr Hopwood (Brian Capron) makes his first appearance in this episode. Like Mr Sutcliffe, he’s a teacher who’s got the best interests of the children at heart – although he’s clearly no pushover. In his first scene he berates Andrew and Alan for giving Justin the birthday bumps, but after he’s done this he casually tells the class it’s far too nice a day to stay inside and suggests they might as well go for a walk.
They venture out to a piece of wasteland where, as part of their environmental studies, they look at the local wildlife. Alan nips off for a cigarette – which is the start of a long-running storyline that continues well into the fourth series. Since this brief ramble was a success, Penny and Susi ask Mr Hopwood if they can venture out into the proper countryside. Mr Hopwood agrees, so next week the trip goes ahead.
Naturally enough it doesn’t all go smoothly – Justin steps in a cowpat and Alan and Andrew cause a fire. Alan and Andrew head off into the forest to have a cigarette, but unluckily for them Penny and Susi are also there. Susi’s been complaining about her new bra, so Penny suggests they go somewhere quiet where she can look at it.
A comedy of embarrassing errors then occurs as the girls realise that they’re being inadvertently spied upon and the boys beat a hasty retreat – not knowing that their dropped cigarette was smouldering. It’s another example of Grange Hill’s moral tone – as the message is clearly spelt out that just one cigarette could quickly cause a blaze which might spiral out of control. But there’s a positive solution as the pupils rally round to help to put out the fire.
Susi, Penny, Alan and Andrew come to an understanding – the boys won’t tell anybody about Susi’s bra problems if they promise not to reveal how the fire started. Given how the relationship develops between Susi and Alan, it’s interesting that this episode ends with a glance between Susi and Andrew – hinting that there might be the spark (no pun intended) of attraction between the pair of them.