Grange Hill. Series Eight – Episode Five


Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 4th March 1985

One of the drawbacks about switching focus between the first and fourth years is that you sometimes have to wait a little while for continuing storylines to develop.  So although we left (shock horror) Stewpot and Annette locked in an embrace at the end of the second episode, it’s only at the start of this instalment that the plot kicks forward.

Stewpot, still sporting something of a hangdog expression, has to confess to Annette that he’s yet to tell Claire that it’s all over.  Stroppy Annette is far from pleased about this of course.  Mind you, Claire is equally as stroppy so goodness knows how he’s going to choose between them – but his habit of lying to each of everybody is obviously going to catch him out pretty soon.

And Stewpot’s appearance, in school uniform, raises the interesting topic of uniform policy during series eight.  Leaving aside for the moment why a sixth-former like Stewpot would be wearing school uniform (I can’t recall this happening at GH at any other time) we’re told early on that uniform is optional from the fourth form onwards.  That some ex-Brookdale and Rodney Bennett pupils turn up at the start of term in their old uniforms is explained by the fact that they’re still clinging onto the memories and loyalties of their former schools.  This doesn’t explain why so many of the old Grange Hill types in the fourth year are still wearing uniform though ….

There’s also something of a glaring continuity error between the studio and film sequences (fairly understandable since they were probably shot months apart).  Inside the school Stewpot is wearing a blazer, jumper and no tie, but when he ventures outside he’s lost the jumper but gained a tie.  It makes him look very odd, especially when Annette, two years his junior, is a vision beside him in orange.

The arrival of Mr Bronson sees something of a realignment of Mr Smart’s character.  With Mr Bronson taking on the mantle of the hard (and occasionally fair) teacher, Mr Smart has become more conciliatory – although this may be simply due to the fact he enjoys baiting Mr Bronson.  There’s a great example in this episode as Mr Smart nips into the last parking place in the school, leaving a highly aggrieved Mr Bronson with no other option than to park on the street.  Watch how quickly Mr Bronson speeds off through the playground after he fails to persuade Mr Smart to give way – it’s lucky he didn’t knock anyone over.

Zammo continues to rail against the Brookies, whilst Banksie and Jackie get slightly closer.  The constant fighting between the rival (and now non-existent) schools irritates Jackie no end, but all becomes clear – in story terms – when Miss Washington and Mr McCartney (Tony Armatrading) announce they plan to stage West Side Story.  Casting Zammo and Banksie as the rival gang leaders with Jackie as the object of their rival affections is a perfect example of life and art imitating each other.

2 thoughts on “Grange Hill. Series Eight – Episode Five

  1. I had this comment in mind while watching Series 7, and I did notice that the art club in the penultimate episode were all in uniform, even though the guest pupils were said to be sixth formers. How accurate that is to real life at the time I don’t know!


  2. It was ironic that Tony Armatrading would be cast as music teacher Mr McCartney as he is the younger brother of singer Joan Armatrading.

    Mr McCartney was another welcome addition to Series 8 – he was down to earth and had a modern enjoyable approach to his teaching.

    Sadly, Mr McCartney seemed to be one of the casualties of the post Series 8 ‘cull’ where several of cast were gone by the following year.

    It is not clear, whether Tony’s decision to leave after one series was his own, as they introduced Mr Kennedy in Series 9 – another black teacher who had similarities to Mr McCartney.

    Tragically, Tony Armatrading passed away in May 2021 after a prolonged illness at the young age of 59.

    I don’t think his death was widely mentioned in the media and there was no reference to his passing on the Grange Hill Gold site (which hasn’t been update much during the Covid pandemic).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s