Written by John Godber. Tx 21st February 1984
When Annette turns up to school with a new bike, it worries Fay and Julie. Remembering the tale of the camera, they wonder if this is further evidence of Mrs Firman’s mistreatment of her daughter. Mind you, Annette doesn’t have the bike for long as Jimmy, Nigel and Roland see it as a nice little earner ….
Although Annette’s fate is the topic of this episode, she’s actually fairly peripheral to proceedings, whilst those concerned about her (Fay and Julie and Miss Gordon and Mrs Wilkins) are much more central. Whilst Annette’s brand new bike suggests that Mrs Firman has been hitting her daughter again (and this is her way of apologising) there’s no actual evidence that this is so.
That’s not really important though, it simply serves as the catalyst to give Fay and Julie the final push they need to speak out. It’s quite noteworthy that Julie tells Fay that when her mother hits her she doesn’t have any bruises. Fay agrees with this, which suggests that she too has received physical chastisement from her parents (providing us with a window into a world where such things are commonplace).
They tell Miss Gordon, who along with Mrs Wilkins (Angela Galbraith) later visits Mrs Firman (Dorothy White). Mrs Wilkins is introduced as coming from Grange Hill, although her precise role is unclear. She’s a good listener though, as demonstrated when she patiently allows Mrs Firman to tell her tale.
Although Mrs Firman has lavished presents on her daughter (Nigel believes she lives in a big house) it’s a little hard to see how she manages it, especially after it’s revealed that her husband has left her after sixteen years of marriage. She actuallyvlives in a modest house with nondescript fixtures and fittings (and is quite shabbily dressed). At one point she tells them that she doesn’t want any sympathy. Mrs Wilkins responds that they don’t intend to offer her any, but Annette could do with some. After Mrs Firman expresses remorse it closes the chapter on this story. This feels a little pat to be honest, but there’s always the possibility that it isn’t a definite ending.
Jimmy’s more Gripper-like in this episode. Pinching Annette’s bike is rather out of character (remember, he started series seven as a businessman, keen to provide his customers with services) but it does bring Roland’s story-arc to a close. Having seen Roland move from victim to bully, he now has to face the consequences of his actions after the police catch up with him and his two partners-in-crime. Roland will remain a regular until the end of the 1987 series, but he’ll rarely feature as a central character again.
Annette and Fay have a brief, but memorable, fight. It helps to clear the air and it means they’ll be able to pick up their friendship after this brief hiccup.