Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Eleven

grange hill s07e11

Written by Jane Hollowood. Tx 7th February 1984

It’s the day of the sponsored walk.  Jackie decides to join Zammo, which causes him a little anxiety.  What will his friends say?  Unsurprisingly there’s a number of whistles and assorted comments, but they manage to get through unscathed.

Roland’s still fretting about the amount of money he’s going to lose if Kilvert comes in first.  Jimmy’s no help, telling Roland that he (Jimmy) supplies the brains of the operation whilst Roland supplies the money.  But Jimmy and Nigel do their best to nobble Kilvert with one of the evergreen classics.

It’s the old “move the arrow so it points in the opposite direction” ploy, so beloved of the series, especially at the start of a new school year (when it can be guaranteed to catch a few unsuspecting first years out).  But Kilvert ignores the arrow pointing in the wrong direction and carries on remorselessly the right way.  It seems that nothing can stop him.

Jimmy decides to pinch a bike, since he’s tired of walking.  The one he chooses – a butcher’s bike complete with meat – belongs to Gripper.  It’s nice to see Mark Savage again, even if his screentime is very brief.  After popping up at the start to shout “oi, that’s my bike!” at the absconding Jimmy, you’d have expected him to make a few appearances throughout the episode.  But he doesn’t reappear until just before the end, where he’s less than pleased with Jimmy’s antics.  There’s a nod to Gripper’s long-established lack of learning as he fails to spell meat correctly.   “And what about the meat, eh? M e e t.  Meat”.  It’s ironic that Gripper’s probably lost his job thanks to Jimmy.  If he was attempting to go straight, it looks as if Grange Hill might have indirectly forced him back into a life of crime.

Stewpot’s desperate to get Claire alone so he can talk to her, and he asks Pogo to chat to Christine.  There’s no sign of Suzanne or Precious (or indeed Duane) so it looks as if this all-film episode saved a little money by pairing down some of the regulars.  There would have been no need for the others to be there, as Claire and Stewpot only needed one other person to talk to, and Christine and Pogo serve that function admirably.

The on/off/on/off drama of Stewpot and Claire looks to be off again, although she considers his offer to join him on an orienteering weekend (along with Mr Baxter, Mr Knowles and a bunch of third years).  Does she agree?  You’ll have to wait until episode sixteen to find out ….

What’s quite nice is that Claire tells Stewpot that she can’t talk to him as she’s walking with Fay.  This partly might have been because Claire simply didn’t want to spend any time in his company, but there’s also the sense that she’s concerned about the younger girl.  Although their discussion happens off-screen, it seems to put an end to the rumours and innuendo about Fay’s crush on Miss Gordon.

Pogo drops out of the sponsored walk as he’s spotted an old girlfriend, Lucinda.  Played by Letitia Dean (credited as Titia Dean) it’s a nice little cameo.  Lucinda likes her food that’s for sure, but after Pogo treats her to a snack in the café he’s crestfallen to find out that she’s got a new boyfriend.  Poor Pogo.

Kilvert doesn’t win, Wu (Eliot Wong) does.  Jane Hollowood seems to have chosen this name so that when people ask who won the race, they can use the “Wu” – “Who?” gag (which they do several times).

4 thoughts on “Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Eleven

  1. Gripper Stebson was a great character and his expulsion the previous year was a great conclusion to his story.

    I hate it when strong pivotal characters are lured back for odd appearances ‘here & there’.

    Gripper only has a couple of scenes here, but they seem to be played for comedic quality after Jimmy steals his bike.

    The final scene is a bit badly done – Zammo looks amused by Gripper’s presence and Roly doesn’t seem intimidated (he’s probably more concerned with his dodgy ankle!).

    Gripper is depicted as an angry boofon here, rather than the nasty violent thug he portrayed previously.

    This would be the first of three cameo type appeances Mark Savage would make post his exit as a series regular in 1983.

    I feel the producers should have drawn a line in Gripper after his dramatic exit in Series 6.

    His brief return here just dilutes the legacy of the character and the terror he brought to the school previously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • His final return (as a voice over only) in 1985 was especially perfunctory and the development of his sister as a bully that same year never really developed. Possibly that character was recast as Imelda for the next series.


  2. The route of the sponsored walk is decidedly odd. It takes in the Parkland Walk which is the old railway line between Finsbury Park and Highgate (which Mr Knowles explains in the presence of several pupils; whether any listen is another matter) then goes through Highgate Cemetery (Karl Marx’s tomb makes an appearance) then later has a scene on a road in Fulham. No wonder so many struggle.

    And yes Gripper is a poor return. There’s scope for drama with an expelled ex pupil who still lives in the vicinity but this isn’t the way to do it at all.


  3. Bizarrely there’s a short scene cut out on the DVD, Clare and Christine are discussing Stewpot and there’s a news item playing on a nearby radio, which obviously caused the edit. Yet Paul Gambaccini is heard clearly providing a chart rundown later in the episode.


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