Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Sixteen

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Written by Rosemary Mason. Tx 28th February 1986

What have I said before about how the unfortunate Ant always seems to be discovered by Mr Bronson with his metaphorical trousers down? With grinding inevitability it happens again here – Laura wants to put up an anti-smoking poster in their new temporary classroom but Ant is less keen (it’ll chip the wall, he says).

Laura presses ahead and when she makes a slight mess Ant takes it upon himself to try and repair the damage.  And that’s when Mr Bronson walks in – to be presented with the sight of Ant, Laura and the offending poster.

That Mr Bronson is no fan of the no-smoking campaign has been made clear already.  He tells Ant and Laura to present themselves to Mr Baxter later (“and no buts”).  “Like the poster” says Julia (which is a decent gag).  Laura gets off lightly but Ant finds himself placed in detention by Mr Baxter.  Ant sees this as further evidence of Mr Bronson’s victimisation but this doesn’t quite hold up – after all it was Mr Baxter who made the decision (Mr Bronson wasn’t there).  Once again there seems to be a slight disconnect between reality and Ant’s view of the world.

He complains to Georgina that Mr Bronson imagines things and is out to get him, but is forced to admit that his detention had a solid basis in fact.  Ant’s later interview with Mr Baxter and Mr Bronson is short but painful.  The subsequent conversation between the two teachers is also somewhat sparky.  Mr Baxter lays it out.  “That boy’s on the right side. But if you go on hammering him the way you are he’ll end up on the wrong side. And that’ll be another one we’ve lost”.

Mr Baxter knows that Mr Bronson has been excessive in his treatment of Ant, but this isn’t something he can communicate to the boy (the staff have to close ranks maybe?) meaning that Ant believes that he has no future at the school, a belief which will impact his later decisions.  To be fair to Ant, there is evidence that Mr Bronson has been victimising him, but Ant’s attitude has sometimes let him down as well.  So there’s no absolute right on one side and wrong on another – instead their conflict has been conducted in shades of grey.

Gonch and Hollo continue to enjoy themselves.  Proudly sporting smoking patrol armbands they’re on the prowl – but are frustrated that the nicotine miscreants are nowhere to be found.  Others have more luck – Mr Kennedy heads out to his car for a quiet puff, only to be surrounded by a group of sorrowful extras.  Tempers certainly seem to be fraying as the normally placid Miss Booth is suddenly rather bad tempered (Fay believes this is because she’s suffering from nicotine withdrawal).

The staff smokers later find themselves corralled into attending lunchtime jogging sessions with Mrs Reagan.  It’s somewhat remarkable how everybody has meekly fallen into line (both staff and pupils).  This seems far too good to be true.

Danny Kendall, in the most unsurprising twist ever, wins the logo competition.  Mrs McClusky is slightly apprehensive at the prize giving as no member of staff has seen the winning entry.  She hopes that it doesn’t contain “a nude punk or worse” (a delightfully old-fashioned comment which would have been rather out of date, even then).  He entered two pieces – one scruffy design under his own name and the wining entry under the non-de-plume of Eamon McClusky.  Did he hope that the McClusky name would influence the panel?  It’s plain that he felt his own name would scupper his chances.

His skill as an artist forces everybody to reassess their opinions of him (as touched upon before, it’s remarkable that he’s hidden his light under a bushel for so long) but other than his newly discovered artistic bent he’s still the same old Danny.  Receiving his prize (a ten pound book token) from Mrs McClusky he’s unable to smile and say thank you.  Mrs McClusky interprets this as disappointment, but it’s more to do with the fact that he lacks the necessary social skills for this sort of situation.  So he storms out and Miss Booth sets off in hot pursuit – something which will become a familiar pattern over the next few years.

When she does find him, he tells her that the magazine is doomed to failure.  What they need is a wall where anybody can write anything they want – essentially a magazine, but in a solid-brick format and with no editing.  What he really wanted was the internet but – Prestel apart – he was a little too early.

Fay heads off for another chat with Mr King.  An innocent conversation maybe, but Laura’s also in the corridor and pulls a disapproving face.  There’s another very short scene with Zammo – he’s in school again, but doesn’t want to see the announcement of the logo winner, much to Jackie’s irritation.  It’s another small sign that Zammo’s still around even if his storyline isn’t advancing at present.

A tear-stained Louise tells Laura and Julia that her father is dead.  This isn’t something which comes as a great shock – as it seems to have been the way the storyline was inevitably heading – but it’s a little strange that the school has been so slow to respond.  Despite the fact that there’s been a problem for a while, apart from Mrs Reagan sending her daughter and Julia to investigate unofficially, nothing else seems to have been done.

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