Written by David Angus. Tx 14th January 1986
The episode opens with Kevin, Fay and Julie chewing the lunchtime fat with Mr Kennedy and Mr Baxter. A sticking plaster on Mr Bronson’s neck (Kevin believes it’s a love-bite) is a hot topic of conversation. I love this bit of banter as well as the way that Mr Bronson self-consciously touches the plaster when Mr Kennedy and Mr Baxter sidles past his table.
It’s noticeable that Zammo’s conspicuous by his absence during this merry-making. Later we see him eating alone before Jackie joins him. Zammo’s distracted state is once again in evidence – he doesn’t want to go along with Jackie to the lunchtime disco (can’t really blame him for that as it’s not exactly a hip and happening scene) or indeed do anything else with her. She still wants them to be an item (despite their sniping in the first episode) but Zammo’s non-committal. That he sold a present she gave him (a calculator) was either a thoughtless gesture or another indication that something’s seriously wrong. Jackie’s teary state and Zammo’s inability to comfort her suggests the latter.
The wonderful George A. Cooper is on fine form as he takes it upon himself to keep an eye out for the miscreants who are using part of the school as a smoking den. Mr Griffiths proudly tells Mrs Reagan that during his army days he was known as “the chameleon. That’s what, no lie”.
Last time it wasn’t clear whether Imelda knew how damaging the fibreglass was. Here we’re left in no doubt on this score – Mr King spells out that it’s nasty stuff – but she still presses ahead to use it in her plan to gain revenge on Ziggy. This serves as an indication that she’s not merely naughty, but possesses a strong malicious streak. It’s just a slight pity that her attack on Ziggy was rather little bungled (he starts screaming before she pushes the fibreglass down his back – presumably a second take was out of the question).
Fire! It’s worrying to see that some teachers don’t respond instantly when the fire alarm sounds. Mr MacKenzie is a little reluctant (it’s obviously another false alarm) but quickly bows to the inevitable. Mr Bronson eventually also has to accede, although he does so with an ill grace that’s quite in character. But there’s smoke billowing out of the building so it must be the real thing.
It was clearly something of a big-budget day as not only do we see a substantial number of schoolchildren (at least a hundred) milling in the playground but there’s also a couple of fire engines thrown in for good measure. Always a pleasure to see the late Peter Childs, here as a fireman, even if it’s only for a few moments. The playground scenes also serve as our last opportunity to see the old Grange Hill school in all its Victorian glory (once asbestos is discovered it’s closed for good).