Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Three

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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).

3 thoughts on “Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Three

  1. I don’t remember seeing teachers dining with pupils before this episode. Was it a new development?

    The story of Zammo and Jackie ran in parallel with the early stages of another heroin storyline with Heather Huntington and Nicholas Black in Brookside. They had a bit more screen time to build up suspicions very subtly, and could push the nightmarish and tragic scenario even further through being an adult programme, but the Grange Hill version is still a useful primer.

    The Grange Hill lunchtime disco is playing ‘Beat Box’ by Art of Noise.


    • I’ve a feeling it happened on the odd occasion before – Scruffy McGuffy springs to mind – but it was something a rarity.

      Having nearly come to the end of series nine now, it’s surprising how often seemingly obvious dramatic moments concerning Zammo’s drugs habit are skipped (most notably the way that we don’t see many people discovering the news – Roland and Mrs McGuire are two notable exceptions).

      Maybe this was a case of having to tread very softly, but it’s noticeable nonetheless.


  2. Very interesting aspect of this episode was the lunchtime disco.

    During the 1980s, there was a short lived theme of holding lunchtime disco’s in secondary schools.

    Friday’s was a key day for them if I recall – most schools refrained from doing them every day.

    My cousins who attended high school in the 80s went to their lunchtime disco and generally enjoyed the social fun of bopping away and guzzling fizzy drinks.

    I don’t actually know why they fell out of favour – by the time I attended high school from 1990 onwards, they were a thing of the past.


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