Grange Hill. Series Eight – Episode Two


Written by David Angus.  Tx 20th February 1985

Annette’s got a new boyfriend.  She’s coy about his identity though, only giving the other girls one piece of information – his name begins with “S”.  First name or last name, they ask?  She won’t say, but it’s the name he’s best known by.

The hunt for Mr S occupies the imagination of Fay, Julie and Diane.  They reel off a list of (never seen) potential victims, but later are briefly convinced it’s Mr Smart!  This only comes about due to a major piece of plot contrivance – Annette and Mr Smart have a chat about Mr Smart’s prowess as a squash player, whilst the others (out of sight down the corridor) misconstrue their conversation.  Although given that Mr Smart and Annette aren’t exactly shouting and the girls were a fair distance away, it stretches credibility just a little that they could actually hear them.  Oh well, it passes a few minutes and Fay’s shocked reaction is retrospectively ironic when you consider what happens a year later.

Mr S’s identity is revealed at the end of the episode.  This could have been spun out for a few episodes more, but no matter – we now know that Stewpot prefers the charms of Annette over Claire (although strictly speaking he’s enjoying them both, as it were, at present).  Mark Burdis’ end of episode expression is a classic, sheepish best describes it.  Given the effort Stewpot spent trying to re-establish his relationship with Claire, it seems bizarre he’d risk it all for a liaison with Annette (who’s no less annoying this series than she’s been previously).  But love is blind I guess.

In the nineties, Grange Hill would introduce several disabled pupils who weren’t characterised by their disability – that was simply a part of who they are.  Eric Wallace (James Hickling) is the reverse, his few appearances in S8 all revolve around the fact that he’s partially deaf.  To begin with, nobody seems aware of this and the fact that he sometimes appears to ignore people is put down to general ignorance.

It rather stretches credibility that he would have kept his deafness a secret (surely his parents would have mentioned it to the staff?) but it does enable us to have a nice moment with Mr Bronson.  When the exasperated Mr Bronson, annoyed that Eric turned to the wrong page in the textbook, asks him ironically if he’s deaf, Eric says that yes, he partially is.  That silences Mr Bronson quite effectively …..

Tensions between Jackie and Zammo continue to simmer away.  Zammo and Mr Bronson still aren’t hitting it off, whilst Zammo is torn between being one the boys and spending time with his girlfriend (expanding the theme from last year).  There’s also signs that Fay and Julian might be interested in each other – when it’s revealed that Julian is opposed to animal experimentation, Fay tells him that she is too.  “Good for you” he says.  It’s a slightly clunky exchange, but then Douglas Chamberlain’s overtly earnest delivery is probably part of the reason why.

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