Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Four

grange hill s09e04

Written by David Angus. Tx 17th January 1986

Big sister Jackie and younger brother Robbie are walking to school.  Jackie is complaining that she has to do numerous household chores whilst Robbie gets off scot free.  Robbie doesn’t see anything wrong with this (after all, she is a girl).  Following this moment of pure sexism (sure to raise the hackles of a certain section of the audience) the attention turns to Robbie’s new earring.  He’s only just had his ear pierced and is more than a little sensitive about letting his friends see it – hence he removes it just before encountering Trevor and Vince.  Melissa Wilks pulls a lovely face here to signify Jackie’s disdain at Robbie’s chicken-heartedness!  As might be expected, the others tease him mercilessly.  All except Trevor who – surprisingly – is supportive.

The characters of Laura and Julia are developed a little more.  Laura, as befits a pupil who has a parent for a teacher, sees herself as something of an outcast although this is possibly only something which exists in her imagination.  Julia is a warm-hearted and friendly type of person, best demonstrated when she attempts to engage Mr Bronson in conversation.  This is a lovely scene.  Mr Bronson, still sporting a large sticking plaster on his neck, is on playground duty and possibly because he’s outside of his natural environment – the classroom – and also talking directly to the girls is surprisingly vulnerable.  He finally admits that his injury was caused by a parrot.  This nugget of information amuses them but Mr Bronson insists that “they can be quite vicious you know. It was a very painful experience”.

If he’s almost human here, then elsewhere he’s his normal, abrasive self.  And once again it’s Ant who’s on the receiving end of his anger.  There’s a painful inevitability in the fact that Mr Baxter turns out to be the reason why Ant doesn’t reach Mr Bronson’s tutorial group on time.  And it’s just as inevitable that Ant, smouldering away, will once again bow to Mr Bronson’s authority with a very ill grace.

Ricky Simmonds had clearly been cast as this year’s GH heartthrob – a rebel without a cause, destined to set female hearts fluttering.  So far this year he and Georgina have already exchanged smiles whilst Ronnie has been gazing wistfully in his direction for a while, although there’s no indication that he even knows who she is.  This is demonstrated when both Ronnie and Georgina head independently to the lunchtime disco and – remarkable coincidence this – happen to stand close together.  Ant ambles towards them, Ronnie nearly faints with excitement but Ant make a beeline for Georgina.  Poor Ronnie.

Apart from these various character interactions, the main thrust of the episode is the way that the one remaining school building is pushed to breaking point.  With capacity for 800 pupils, how can they cram 1,500 in?  The answer, in part, is by installing numerous classes into the gym, although this open-plan and noisy environment is far from ideal – as might be expected Mr Bronson is far from pleased with this solution.  Later he advocates taking industrial action (Mrs McClusky rolls her eyes at this).  It’s a reasonable suggestion, but maybe Mrs McClusky has an alternative plan up her sleeve.

Louise is granted a few more lines as plans for a party at her house are mooted.  Laura and Julia are both keen, although Julia frets that she’ll have to lie about it to her father.  Julia’s father, Mr Glover, has yet to make an appearance but his character type – stern, disapproving – has already been deftly set up here.

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