Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Six

grange hill s09e06

Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 24 January 1986

Gonch has been a little quiet this year (although given the influx of new characters that’s possibly not too surprising).  But after a fallow period he comes roaring back to life here with yet another brilliant scheme – a sandwich-making business.  And Gonch being Gonch he starts off by selling shop-bought sandwiches at a profit.  Truly he is Pogo Patterson reincarnated.

But as we’ve seen so often, the life of the businessman is littered with pitfalls.  He has to find premises to maintain his sandwich production and it’s not surprising that his mother bristles at the way her kitchen has been turned into a café. So where now?

Gonch’s sandwich plan is a sound one – with no tuckshop and the canteen full to breaking point there’s a clear opening to make a little money. We drop into the canteen to see a green young teacher left at the mercy of the rather feral pupils (custard smeared on the tables and the likes of Imelda refusing to clear their table doesn’t help). The rest of the pupils also rush out – all but Laura and Julia, the goody-goodys! Tamsin Heatley, later to appear as Bella in The Tweenies, plays the very put-upon teacher.

Whilst it’s understandable that series nine is mainly remembered for Zammo’s heroin addiction, other interesting plotlines were also developed.  Possibly in any other year the relationship between Fay and Mr King would have generated more publicity, but with the blanket Just Say No campaign dominating the airwaves it’s understandable that Grange Hill’s first attempt to depict a suspect relationship between a teacher and a pupil seemed to pass by unremarked.

It’s gently teased out to begin with as we see Fay confide to Julie that she thinks Mr King is really nice (although she immediately denies that she fancies him).  Fay’s been here before of course, although her crush (if that’s what it was) on Miss Gordon back in series seven was handled in a understandably oblique manner. It’ll be a short while before this story develops, but the seed has definitely been sown.

It’s been a few years since the school magazine storyline has reared its head, but it makes a comeback here – with Calley keen to create a school fanzine.  Essentially this would be a school magazine, so the distinction between the two isn’t too clear – except there’s no doubt that she wouldn’t be inclined to run the content past the staff first.  Is this going to end well?  Hmm, I wonder.

Imelda has words with Georgina after Georgina’s relationship with Ant becomes public knowledge.  Quite what a nice girl like Georgina is doing hanging out with a nasty piece of work like Imelda is a bit of a mystery.  You can assume that she decided it was safer to be a part of Imelda’s gang rather than stay on the outside, but one drawback of S9 is the way that a number of new characters tend to rush through various plotlines.

When Denny appeared to turn his back on Gripper in S6 it carried a certain resonance as we’d seen him act as Gripper’s right hand man all the way through S5.  Georgina’s shifting allegiance doesn’t carry the same weight as we’ve only seen her in a handful of episodes.

It’s interesting that both Helen and Georgina are different – and nicer – people away from Imelda’s influence (although Helen’s still shown to be quite spiteful). They both cheer on Ant during the swimming gala (he, of course, wins his race. Mr Perfect, he is). Ant’s victory is the only highlight though, which irritates Mr Baxter no end.

Jackie’s suspicions about Zammo grow. He’s not only spent all the money she lent him but he’s gone ahead and sold his bike to Kevin anyway (she lent him the money so that he wouldn’t have to do this – or so she thought). Once again, Zammo can’t look her in the eye and this – together with his hesistant delivery – is a further sign there’s something up.

If he’s this disconnected most of the time then it’s hard to see how it could go unremarked during lesson time (unless Grange Hill’s teachers are spectacularly unobservant). But as yet, apart from Jackie it seems that nobody’s noticed there’s anything amiss with the boy.

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4 thoughts on “Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Six

  1. As you said, there were some strong similarities between Gonch and Pogo.

    Gonch was a much better character. You could tell he was an academic character who in time would go places post Grange Hill.

    The selling point with Gonch was his partnership with Hollo – the two of them were like the odd comedic couple and they didn’t necessarily have a great deal in common.

    Hollo’s sudden (and unexplained) departure after Series 10 was a huge sticking point, but it does carry some realism in that Gonch became more mature and cunning in Series 11 & 12.

    It almost allowed Gonch to develop that little bit further, without Hollo around. Georgina & Helen were other examples of this – they developed more on screen once Imelda went.


  2. If made today this episode would generate huge complaints that it was indirectly encouraging theft by showing how to profit from scrap metal. Truly a very different age.


  3. Just spotted in a search that this episode was first transmitted on BBC2 as it was one of those afternoons when Children’s BBC was displaced from BBC1 by a scheduled event (here it was the results of the 15 by-elections called to oppose the Anglo-Irish Agreement) and the presenter would transfer from the regular “Broom Cupboard” to the BBC2 continuity suite with Phillip Schofield initially donning a dinner jacket as a joke that he was now on a high brow channel.

    Why they did this rather than just putting the important event on BBC2 is beyond me. Were there still parts of the country or receivers that couldn’t get it? I thought the last of the 405 transmissions had ended the previous year.


  4. I think I am right in saying that we haven’t seen Zammo in a classroom setting yet in this series. All his interactions are with his fellow pupils. You’d hope a teacher would have spotted something was up and maybe that would have been obvious if we had been presented with such scenes.

    That being said, Imelda being blatantly disruptive and disobedient seems to be dismissed with just a shrug and moan from the teachers, so perhaps they wouldn’t have stepped in with Zammo.


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