Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Five

grange hill s09e05

Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 21st January 1986

The cramped, multi-class environment of the gym continues to be a stressful experience for teachers and pupils alike.  Mr Bronson stalks around from class to class, saying nothing but clearly far from pleased (signified by the way he taps his pencil in a frustrated manner).  He spends several minutes standing silently by Miss Partridge’s class and it’s instructive that although he observes that Danny is the one who’s being awkward, Mr Bronson’s ire is directed at Ant.

Miss Partridge is eventually able to convince him that Ant was blameless but it’s intriguing that Mr Bronson is clearly shown to victimise Ant without any evidence.  The way that Mr Bronson targets certain pupils is something of a running thread during his time at the school (Zammo, Ant and – later – Danny).

But if Mr Bronson’s intervention was partly due to his disdain for Ant, then Miss Partridge is convinced that it also had something to do with the fact that she’s a woman (“I wouldn’t mind but he didn’t interfere with Peter King’s class”).  Mrs Reagan sympathises.  Mr Glover, a school governor, blocked her application to become head of sport, although quite how he could do this isn’t clear.

Now that Mr Baxter is a suit (deputy head) he finds himself a target as few of his colleagues are happy with the current state of affairs.  He weakly wonders whatever happened to the Dunkirk spirit, although that doesn’t seem to go down terribly well (Mrs Regan’s whispered “men” signifies what she thinks, although this isn’t really an argument that can be divided across male/female lines).

There’s a slight lapse in continuity here.  Last episode we were told that the old Brookdale building couldn’t be reopened because it had been extensively vandalised but this week we learn that it’s half way to becoming a multi-story car park.  Presumably a similar fate has befallen Rodney Bennett, as nobody ever mentions using that school on a temporary basis.

We haven’t seen Zammo since episode three.  There we learnt that he’d sold a present given to him by Jackie, now he’s on the verge of selling his pride and joy – his bike – to Kevin.  He’s clearly on a downward path – when Jackie speaks to him he’s hesitant and can’t look her in the eye – but it’s still not clear what his problem is.  Jackie is still prepared to stand by him and is happy to give him all the money she has in her post office savings account – twenty five pounds.  He’s grateful and promises to pay her back, although it seems unlikely.  It’s noticeable that they only feature very briefly across the twenty five minutes.  This may turn out to be the dominant plotline of series nine but it’s being set up in a very sparing manner.

Trevor is convinced that Julia Glover fancies him.  No, really.  This is even more unlikely than an Ant/Ronnie team up, but it sets us up for the inevitable comic reversal later.  Trevor has a brilliant plan to get a little on-one-on time with the woman of his dreams, he and Vince will rock up to Cheryl’s party, complete with a bottle of cider (lovely touch that) and blag their way in by claiming to be guests of a non-existent friend who’s already inside.  What could possibly go wrong?

This scene between Trevor and Vince is a delight.  It’s very much in the tradition of Laurel and Hardy where one – Laurel/Vince – is stupid and the other – Hardy/Trevor – is even stupider but thinks he’s cleverer.  Trevor’s promise to tutor Vince in the art of female seduction is a mouth-watering one (“watch me at the party, watch a master at work”) as is the way Trevor casually straightens his tie in a knowing manner.

With a little help from Paul Young on the stereo, the party at Louise’s is soon jumping although older sister Cheryl (Amma Asante) disapproves.  Asante must be one of Grange Hill‘s most distinguished former pupils as she’s gone on to enjoy an award-winning career as a director.  Belle (2004) and A Way of Life (2013) have both picked up numerous awards.

Luckily Kevin’s acting as a bouncer, so Trevor and Vince have to skulk off home and sadly we’re denied the opportunity to see Trev’s skills as a lothario at first hand.  Pity!  Kevin later acidly sums them up as “Meat Cleaver and Planet of the Apes”.  Harsh but fair.  Ant is more successful in gaining admittance, although given his comment (“I’m the drummer with Duran Duran, but I’m incognito tonight”) I feel that Kevin was well within his rights to give him a slap anyway.

Unable to catch Ant’s eye, Julia finds solace with alcohol instead.  It’s plain that this isn’t going to end well and so it proves with Mrs Regan forced to pick up the pieces.

7 thoughts on “Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Five

  1. The four simultaneous lessions in the gymn create some of the most ambitious sequences in Grange Hill up to this point, requiring the orchestration of a lot of things happening concurrently, performed by over a hundred actors. The scene is impressively achieved spatially, with the long tracking shot that passes from class to class and the clever positioning of Mr Bronson, always in the background but located so that the viewer is continually aware that he’s in the wrong place. Its a sequence that probably couldn’t have been achieved so well on film or in the studio (too time consuming to record) and shows a real feel for the dramatic possibilities of Outside Broadcast recording.

    Cheryl’s party soundtrack in full:

    Paul Young – Come Back and Stay
    Wham! – If You Were There
    Paul Young – Ku-Ku Kurama
    Go West – We Close Our Eyes
    Wham! – Heartbeat

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Currently rewatching this via the new DVD (ordered online because all the shops are closed, natch) and the discrepancy over the school buildings isn’t as great as suggested here. It was said in the previous episode that the local authority had sold off the Brookdale building, but it was in such a poor state that the new owners were having a hard time doing anything with it. So it being knocked down and replaced with a multi storey car park is more or less in keeping. And aren’t they already in the old Rodney Bennett building?


    • What’s odd is the sheer speed with which this has happened! The planning applications usually take rather longer.


  3. The Vince & Trevor scene was obviously a tribute to The Young Ones episode “Interesting”, where Stephen Frost and Mark Arden practically perform the exact same scene. Vince & Trevor are even dressed the same as those characters, with Trevor wearing a green bomber jacket identical to Frost’s and Vince in a t-shirt and cardigan combo which Arden wore in “Interesting”.


  4. Although I was a teenager of the 1990s, I can fully relate to Louise’s house party and Trevor’s agenda in this episode.

    I remember a couple of Friday nights after a week of secondary school where me and my mates heard about a private house party (usually hosted by friends of friends) and we decided to turn up unannounced with some bottles of cheap cider or cans of crappy lager.

    This was before the age of social media and everyone having mobile phones, where news of a gathering was done purely via word of mouth. In a way it was like ‘networking’ and discovering a social scene because we weren’t old enough for pubs.

    Like Kevin, there was always an older, wiser figure present as an ‘unofficial’ doorman (usually an older brother or an intimidating looking older boyfriend) who sometimes turned you away at the door. There were never any older adults – who knows where they were?

    Again like Trevor, I’d be a little over excited if I knew a girl I like was at the party, but inevitably my hopes were dashed either way by being turned away at the door or finding them enjoying the company of another lad (if I did get invited in).

    On reflection, I was probably batting above my station with my intentions, but every teenage boy deserves to have their dreams of romance.

    Speaking of girls – Julia’s experiment with alcohol also reminds me of my youth. Sampling glass after glass of Merridown and then suddenly feeling unwell when your intolerant teenage body can’t cope with the intoxication.

    Oh how we were so young and niave!!!! I think that’s why I enjoy Series 9 of GH so much – the little less memorable plots are just as enjoyable to watch.


  5. I think this is the first time we see Danny Kendall and Mr Bronson in the same scene together. The shots of Danny trying to get out of a lesson whilst Mr Bronson is standing behind him and silently fuming is rather appropriate for how things will go in later years.

    This series would have been made just after the licence fee went up by £12 – the single biggest raw increase in its history (although some of the 1970s increases had a bigger % rise). So there would have been a bit more money flowing than usual and some established series would have got a budget increase that would allow for such great crowd scenes.

    A lot of TV series aren’t always great on the actual mechanics of governance but many a board or committee will in practice be driven by the recommendations of one of its members so it’s easy to envisage Mr Glover overseeing the appointment and getting the board to support his opposition.


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