Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Fourteen

grange hill s07e14

Written by Frances Galleymore. Tx 17th February 1984

Diane’s stories about her imaginary boyfriend become more and more elaborate. But Julie seems to smell a rat ….

This episode gives us our one chance to take a look at Diane’s homelife.  Her mother, Gloria (Linda Marlowe), couldn’t be more different to her daughter.  She’s brassy, confident and seemingly not very interested Diane at all.  No surprise then that Diane prefers the safe haven of her bedroom (which, of course, has a big poster of Duran Duran on the wall) and the romantic certainty of teen magazines.

Mr McGuffy’s drama classes seem to be the inspiration behind her endless tales of Mark (he drives a car, works in a record shop, uses aftershave, looks a little like Shakin’ Stevens, etc, etc).  Do we interpret this as a cry for help, or is she secretly delighting in fooling everyone?  Diane’s usually portrayed as a victim (or at least a fairly passive character) so there’s evidence that she relishes stringing everybody along.

This includes her mother, who finds Diane’s stash of secret love letters.   This faintly echoes the storyline of Claire and her secret diary, but it’s plain that Diane intended her mother to find the letters just so she could create a scene.  Gloria has always complained that her daughter never seems to do anything or go anywhere, so it’s more than a little ironic that when she discovers Diane apparently has a boyfriend she’s dead against it.  Diane is then able to taunt her progressive mother most effectively.

If Diane’s managed to fool Fay and Janet, with Annette not really bothered either way, then Julie is the one who seems not to believe a word of it.  But she never comes out and calls Diane a liar to her face (Julie, unlike Annette, is rarely mean or spiteful) and doesn’t press matters after Diane tearfully brings the affair to a close (imaginary Mark is forced to leave town for somewhere up North).

The merger is steaming ahead, with Mrs McClusky keen to take charge.  I like that she calls Claire and Stewpot to her office and passes over paperwork for them to give to their parents, Mrs Scott and Mr Stewart (both of whom are prominent members of the PTA).  Some might see this as underhand, but there’s no doubt that Mrs McClusky is a skilled political animal ….

Miss Gordon is keen to bring a nude life model to the school.  Mrs McClusky reacts in shock (a lovely moment) as does Mr Keating later on (another fine comic scene).  We’ll have to wait a few episodes for the punchline, but it’ll be worth it.

2 thoughts on “Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Fourteen

  1. Diane Cooney was one of those Grange Hill characters who seemed to enter the spotlight for a pivotal story but then was completely underused for the rest of her time in the programme.

    The story of her skin disorder, being accepted by her peers and her imaginary boyfriend is a significant story that I am sure many young girls can relate to.

    The ‘boyfriend’ plot almost feels like revisiting old territory from the episode in Series 5 with Claire and Mr Hopwood.

    After this episode, Diane Cooney would simply revert back to being a secondary ‘underused’ character. She was one of several characters who appeared to have been axed after Series 8 when Ronald Smedley took over as producer.


  2. Yes, this episode is largely a reworking of the themes in Claire’s secret diary episode, including only the second (I think) instance of a voiceover being used. Also, Diane is reading a photo-story but the voiceover is narrating a more detailed plot with description – photo-stories tended to be almost all dialogue.

    Anyone else curious about Diane having an Australian mum?


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