Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Twelve

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Written by Barry Purchese. Tx 14th February 1986

It’s a filthy wet day outside, which possibly might explain why Grange Hill is graced with Danny’s presence for the whole day.  That’s not to say he keeps out of trouble though – an early skirmish with Mrs Reagan means that he’s sent to Mr Baxter’s office.

This is an episode which really examines what makes Danny tick.  His self-contained nature and reluctance to engage have been seen before – although it’s now suggested that he’s tried the patience of just about every teacher in the school.  Danny just wants to be left alone, which is obviously never going to happen.  He might be an (unwilling) member of the school but doesn’t accept that any of the school rules should apply to him.

We’ve not really seen him encounter Mr Bronson before.  In the future Mr Bronson and Danny will share some dramatic storylines, but here the teacher is almost genial (or as genial as Mr Bronson ever gets).  Knowing that Danny is likely to stray if left unattended, Mr Bronson takes charge of him and escorts him to Mr Baxter’s office (“you have a tendency to veer off course, don’t you Kendall? Like a defective supermarket trolley”).

Mr Baxter’s heart to heart with the boy is again played out against the backdrop of rain lashing against the windows.  This helps to create a sense of claustrophobia as the teacher then leaves Danny alone to ponder his future, although Danny believes he hasn’t got one – at Grange Hill at least – since he’s already been marked down as a troublemaker.  Although there still might be hope for others.

Given that he’s rarely interacted with either his fellow pupils or the teachers on a friendly basis, it’s slightly surprising that he speaks to Laura on behalf of Georgina (Georgina wants Laura to have a word with her mother about Ant’s feud with Mr Bronson).  True, Danny doesn’t say anything when Georgina asks him, but he does do it – even though he later tells Ant that he should apologise to Mr Bronson.  He doesn’t have to mean it, he only has to say the words …..

One of the problems with creating a character like Danny, who appeared out of nowhere during series nine as a third year, is that his previous school life is a complete blank.   There’s the first hint that he might just have an interest in a school activity – he speaks to Miss Booth about the competition to create a new school logo – but this suggests that he’s spent several years displaying no artistic talent whatsoever.  Given that he later seems to live in the art room, this is a little hard to believe.

Nominations for the staff/pupil editorial committee are made.  Laura is desperate to be elected (and is) whilst Gonch (unwillingly) as well as Calley and Fay (willingly) are also voted on.  Fay then suggests they have a male member of staff to compliment Miss Booth and Miss Partridge.  She suggests Mr King (does Julie slightly roll her eyes at this?).  It’s been a few episodes since Fay expressed her feelings for Mr King (she really likes him but doesn’t, repeat doesn’t, fancy him).  Hmm, this is plainly set up as an accident waiting to happen.

There’s been a nice touch of continuity this year as we’ve seen several teachers with colds.  First it was Miss Partridge and now it’s Mr Bronson.  It’s hardly a major plot point, but it’s noticeable nonetheless.  This episode is also noteworthy for the brevity of Mrs McClusky’s appearance – she pops up in the first scene, exchanges a few words with Mrs Reagan, and then vanishes.  Hopefully Gwyneth Powell recorded scenes for some other episodes on the same day, otherwise it seems a bit of a waste to drag her out just for thirty seconds.

Mr Bronson and Mr Baxter break the bad news to Ziggy that the Duke of Edinburgh isn’t coming to Grange Hill.  Well, Mr Baxter breaks the bad news (Mr Bronson isn’t too sympathetic).  I love the way that Mr Baxter points out that Ziggy’s letter is an obvious forgery, making the reasonable suggestion that the Duke would know how to spell Edinburgh!  Gardener and Holloway clearly haven’t been paying attention during their English lessons …..

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