Written by Alan Janes. Tx 19th February 1980
Duane, Michael and Tracy have to brave an interrogation by Mr Keating. His first appearance in this episode is a memorable one – we hear him clear his throat in a very ominous way – making it clear that he’s not in a very good mood! All three children give him a different reason for their presence in school at half term (Tracy’s is the correct one) but it’s obvious he’s unsure which of them to believe, so he tells them he’ll see them all later.
Having learnt that Mr Humphries might have some materials to donate to the Outdoor Centre, Mr Hopwood pays him a visit. He spies a very serviceable van, which Mr Humphries was considering selling, and manages to grab it at a very decent price. It’s instructive to watch the artful way Mr Hopwood is able to strike a bargain by playing on Mr Humphries’ good nature (but since it’s all in a good cause that’s fair enough). It’s also amusing to hear Mr Humphries ask for cash, rather than a cheque, since a cheque would have to go through the books (thereby adhering to the cliche that all small businesses like to fiddle their tax!)
Susi finds herself persecuted by Jill Harcourt (Alex Kingston) who pressurises her to complete her homework. Jill’s not the first school bully we’ve seen in the series, but it’s not until Gripper’s reign of terror in series five and six that we actually see a bully who carries out a concerted series of attacks over a sustained period. Like Jackie Heron in series one, Jill Harcourt’s villainy is rather negated by the fact it’s so brief (she’s vanquished in the very next episode).
As for Duane, Michael and Tracy, Mr Keating eventually discovered that Tracy was the one telling the truth – but although they submitted multiple competition entries (and all the answers were correct) they didn’t win the minibus since their entries reached the paper the day after the competition closed. But the paper was interested enough to interview them, although the resulting article is a great disappointment since it didn’t even mention their names.
Susi continues to feel the pressure from Jill, but she doesn’t have to suffer for very long as Alan’s spotted what’s been happening and is prepared to give her extra Judo lessons so she can defend herself against Jill’s bullying.