Written by John Godber. Tx 11th February 1986
Ziggy and Robbie are diligently collecting every scrap of chalk they can find, convinced that a grateful Duke of Edinburgh will be delighted with their efforts. I love the way that most of the teachers – Mr King, Mr Kennedy – also swallow this story hook, line and sinker but suspicious old Mr Baxter proves much harder to convince. It’s a small character beat, but it demonsrates that Mr Baxter has been round the block several times and doesn’t take anything on trust.
Calley’s school fanzine (or the school magazine as it now seems to be) has Mrs McClusky’s blessing, although she obviously wants some form of editorial control to be wielded by the staff. This isn’t the sort of news that Calley, Ronnie, Laura, Fay and Julie want to hear, but Mrs McClusky – skilled politician that she is – seems to have gotten her way. These days Mrs McClusky seems to be a more relaxed individual than the control freak of the early 1980’s, although possibly she’s just the same – it’s just that the ratio between velvet glove and iron fist has changed. So whilst she may appear to be more conciliatory there’s still the same drive to ensure that she always gets her own way.
A little time seems to have passed since the recording of the previous episode (maybe there was a mid-season break?) as several pupils, notably Helen are now sporting new hairstyles. But whilst Helen might look slightly different, she’s still Imelda’s yes-woman (Georgina remains Imelda’s maybe-woman). Imelda’s latest wheeze is demanding money with maximum menaces – twenty pence from every first year and once they’ve paid up the edge of their timetable is clipped (confirming that they’ve paid).
This seems like a sensible plan, although there’s a few obvious flaws, not least the fact that some resourceful first-years clip their own timetables, thereby fooling the older girls. This lack of forward planning, as well as Imelda’s own recklessness, spells the end for her as her scheme is rumbled and she’s suspended. This gives the others a temporary respite, but she’ll be back …..
She did take a little catching though, as Mr Baxter and Mr Griffiths found out. Still, once Mr Griffiths had a firm hold of her, Mr Baxter’s anger was enough to quieten her down. This is another good episode for Michael Cronin – as we also see Mr Baxter share a few nice scenes with Ant and display disbelief that the Duke of Edinburgh would ever consider visiting a place like Grange Hill.
Georgina is distraught. Now that Imelda’s been caught she knows she will be next to face the wrath of Mrs McClusky. What will her parents say? Ant attempts to console her (this involves holding her close) but one again the fates are against him as Mr Bronson happens to walk by. “In case you have forgotten, this is a school Mr Jones, not a harem!”
The viewer hardly has time to draw breath from this beautifully delivered line from Michael Sheard before the action ramps up several notches. Mr Bronson pulls Ant from the bench where he and Georgina are sitting and eyeballs him – Ant then roughly pushes him away, causing Mr Bronson to fall over (naturally, his first action when he hits the ground is to check that his wig is still in place!)
What’s fascinating about this moment is that Ant claims that he never touched him when it’s plainly obvious that he shoved the teacher quite violently. Ant may like to play the victim but the facts don’t always equate with this (as has been seen before). Mr Bronson’s not best pleased as you might expect. “You’ve done it now, Jones. Assault, that’s what this is. Assault”.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Mrs McClusky’s faithful, but non-speaking secretary, Janet. She has one of her finest moments here as Mr Bronson frog-marches Ant and Georgina into Mrs Clusky’s office and stammers that Ant assaulted him. Although it’s when he divulges that Ant and Georgina were kissing that Janet pulls a wonderful face. Lovely stuff!
Ant is given an ultimatum. If he apologies to Mr Bronson then the matter will be considered closed. But the headstrong Ant can’t bring himself to do so ……