Written by David Angus. Tx 1st April 1986
It’s been a while since Gonch has indulged in a money-making scheme, so it’s only right and proper that the Fun Run should offer him a chance to turn a tidy profit. The series has been here before of course – back in 1984 – but this time Gonch is more interested in who won’t finish the race, rather than who’s going to win it (which seems to be a toss-up between those two titans of the track, Mr Kennedy and Banksie).
However, from early on we’re left with the feeling that Gonch and Hollo aren’t going to finish on top. To begin with, Ziggy’s delighted to show them a letter he’s received from the Duke of Edinburgh (a real letter this time) inviting him to a gala concert at the Royal Albert Hall (presumably pop, since it’s hard to imagine Ziggy being enthused about an evening of classical music). Quite why the Duke should wish to favour Ziggy is a slight mystery, but nobody said GH ever had to be true to life.
The Fun Run is an opportunity for some interesting fancy dress – most notably Mr Baxter as Wonder Woman. That’s a combination I’d never thought I’d see. This will turn out to be Mr Baxter’s last hurrah as during the first episode of series ten we’re told that he’d left to run a sports centre. A slight pity that Michael Cronin’s eight years on the show wasn’t marked in some way, but possibly his departure was an unexpected one.
You may – or more possibly may not – be interested to learn that it seems Julia will be able to keep her ears pierced. Hurrah! It’s slightly odd though that another of her plotlines (sneaking off to buy tickets for a Phil Collins gig) never came to anything.
Ant’s set to move from Grange Hill to a private school. But that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of him, alas ….
Following on from the uncomfortable aura surrounding Zammo last time, there’s better news in this episode. He’s not seen in person, but Jackie has visited him and seems encouraged by his progress. Presumably it was felt that there should be some sort of happy ending between this series and the next, but it does mean that the drama of the previous instalment ends up being rather negated.
The Fun Run is low on tension or incident. Banksie falls off his bike and grazes his knee. Ouch! Gonch twists his ankle and faces having to pay out a fortune to Ronnie if he doesn’t complete the course. Imelda and her cronies sabotage Mr Glover’s bike in error (believing it to be Ziggy’s).
The brief and awkward meeting between Mr Bronson and Ant is nice though, offering us a quiet moment between the frenetic on-track action. Michael Sheard, as ever, is excellent – for once Mr Bronson is conciliatory (telling Ant that he’s sorry to lose him) and it’s almost possible to believe that he means it. But if that’s the case and he truly valued Ant’s ability as a student, why did he persecute him all year?
I like the way that Mr Griffiths’ concession to fancy dress is to sport a plastic hat whilst still wearing his brown overalls! And glory be, at long last Ziggy and Robbie gain their revenge on Imelda.
12 thoughts on “Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Twenty Four”
One of the last links with the Tucker Jenkins era is severed with Mr Baxter’s departure
Mrs McClusky is now left as the sole survivor from that era of the show.
Also the final appearances of Janet St Clair and Kevin Baylon.
Neither of whom are mentioned at the start of S10, so their fates remain a mystery …
Kevin was obviously deemed surplus to requirements (as Banksie could easily step into the role as Jackie’s temporary boyfriend) whilst some of Janet’s characteristics seem to be adopted by Cheryl (nagging Roland about his diet, etc).
You mentioned the Grange Hill novels earlier. I’ve read four of them, one of which was very disposeable if enjoyable, but the other three seem to be very good bridging material that make sense of storylines or even complete them (we get some set-up for the change in Gripper in Series 6 in one, another follows on from Series 10 and does a good job of wrapping up the outgoing sixth formers, notably Julie and Banksie).
And then there’s one that curiously is set between the last two episodes of Series 9, even incorporating Robbie and Ziggy’s run-in with Ant and Miss Booth’s conversation with the social worker. It gives Ant a longer journey home rather than the perfunctory “I’m going home” on screen, showing him spending the whole night wandering about debating the issue, culminating in us actually seeing the moment where he finds out he was wrong about Bronson favouring Julia and realises running away was entirely down to him.
The other major thing in it is showing the next stage with Zammo. He runs away to score again and ends up in hospital: He assumes he’s overdosed but in fact it was secondary issues that were the real problem, as he passed out in water, caught pneumonia and nearly drowned. It’s a wake-up call that ends with him promising his mum that she’ll get the real Zammo back, which seems to explain him suddenly being more positive here. (It also seems to confirm Jackie and Kevin as a couple, with Zammo seeing them kissing from a distance, perhaps hinting at an idea that got ditched. There’s a plotline in the post-Series 10 novel that similarly seems to be setting up an Imelda’s Revenge story that never happened.)
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At least one book was a straight novelisation (collecting together a number of series one episodes) but most are, as you say, interesting reads which entertainingly extrapolate already existing plot threads.
Grange Hill For Sale is the one that sticks in the mind (Booga Benson and Gripper teaming up would have worked well on television). Sometime in the future I need to recollect them all.
Just found Grange Hill on the Run and it’s the last one Michael B describes. One thing that stands out when reading it in close proximity to watching series 9 is that the book seems to have been written on the basis of late draft scripts rather than the finished episodes so there are a number of continuity errors. Big ones include:
* The Fun Run in episode 24 takes place the day after episode 23 whereas onscreen there’s the impression a bit more time has elapsed.
* Julia gets her ears pierced that evening whereas on TV it happened off screen two episodes earlier.
** This happens after she and Laura visit Louise and witness Cheryl and Harriet arguing about sugar whereas onscreen Laura and her mother are the visitors (and the bigger argument is about frying with sugar only coming up at the end).
** Julia’s father is immediately accepting when he finds out as he’s come from a Governors’ meeting where news about Ant and Zammo has made him reappraise his own relationship to his daughter.
*** What the said meeting was about is not covered but Ant’s thoughts earlier imply that the Mr King and Miss Partridge scandals came separately and are now in the past.
* There’s reference to Ziggy previously running away back to Liverpool by stowing away on board a flight from London to Manchester (why on earth is there such a service?!) which isn’t shown on screen. For that matter Ziggy seems more homesick for Liverpool here.
** Ziggy uses a lot of Scouse slang that he sometimes has to translate for Robbie. Onscreen he is immediately understood.
* Danny is Head of the Smokers’ Union which isn’t shown onscreen (and it’s hard to imagine Danny being head of any group bigger than one).
* Zammo’s past actions are recalled slightly differently. He has now stolen a vase rather than a decantor from his mother, his faking pouring heroin away in front of Jackie is now said to have taken place one evening after school and there’s no reference to his fight in the changing room with Jackie and Kevin until very late in the book even though his guilt about how he’s treated Jackie is a recurrent theme.throughout.
** Jackie and Kevin are seen kissing. Onscreen although Banksie suggests something is going on between them nothing’s actually happened yet.
** Howard is still supplying Zammo with drugs (with this particular wrap having been mixed with something else) and is accepting stolen goods directly from Zammo rather than the latter selling to second hand shops. There’s a reference to the police having busted Tasmin’s place.
Presumably there were several changes made to the last few episodes (including the famous ending to episode 22) and Redmond or the editor only caught a few of them very late in the day.
Ooh, well, I can solve one of these. The “disposeable if enjoyable” novel I mentioned is Grange Hill After Hours, which I’m assuming is the “beginning of series 9” novel mentioned in the post below. It’s set while Ziggy is off school recovering from the fibreglass attack and, among a trio of plots set over one night (arguably the least memorable), involves Ziggy sneaking off on a rather convoluted trip home to Liverpool to see his sisters. So, rare case of inter-novel continuity there!
These synposes are great! Thanks for posting them – brought back some fond memories.
I wondered if it would be possible if you’d do a review/synopsis of the novels too?
It’s been a long time since I looked at these but from recollection they were:
1. A novelisation of series 1 with a chapter for each episode
2. Grange Hill Rules OK? This seemed positioned within series 2 as Cathy and Penny as well as series 1 established characters were all in the novel. It must have been after the Madelin Tanner/shoplifting fallout as I remember this was a key plot.
3. Next one (don’t remember the name) must have been set at some point in series 4. Oddly enough I think the outdoor centre featured in the story but we had Claire and Stewpot amongst the first year characters. They also introduced Eddie Carver(?) as an enemy for Alan and seemingly rival for Susi. I think the character may have reappeared in Grange Hill For Sale
4. Two were firmly set in series 5 as Tucker & Co. were fifth years. One was like an anthology with 4 or five character POV stories as well as Grange Hill For Sale mentioned above.
5. Grange Hill Home and Away I think – set during series 6 as Tucker reappeared but had just left school. It also referenced Gripper’s leanings as that point in the series.
6. There were a whopping 3 novels set during series 9 – beginning, middle and end (last one mentioned above), so the series must have been at its peak of popularity. This is when I started watching it rather than dipping in and out as I had before.
7. 2 or 3 set in series 10? Plus the Ziggy/Robbie ones that took place chronologically after this.
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I’ve got around six of the novels so I’m sure I’ll get round to writing something about them sooner or later 🙂
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Series 9 remains the strongest and most memorable series of Grange Hill.
The closing episode is nicely done, although it was a shame Michael Cronin’s last scenes had him dressed up as Wonder Woman!!!!
Ant Jones’s story is concluded here. For me, Ant was an integral part of Series 9, but his presence in Series 10 seemed awkward and pointless at times. It would have been nice, simply to allow him to go out gracefully here.
As someone has said – Janet and Kevin both bow out here too. Strangely enough, Mmoloki Chrystie who played played Kevin would be one of the cast who travelled to the White House to visit First Lady Nancy Regan in the Spring of 1986.
The US visit took place during filming of Series 10 when Mmoloki had departed the series (Series 9 was shot throughout 1985). I always found this a bit odd.
When Justin Lee Collins (remember him?) did the Grange Hill 1986 cast reunion programme a few years ago (I think around 2005/6), Mmoloki Chrystie refused to engaged with Collins on camera, but he did record his own person ‘selfie’ interview where he was quite candid about his time on the programme.
Mmoloki alleges some of the cast did experiment with drugs and it was a part of his life he doesn’t like to reflect on. Needless to say Mmoloki never associates himself with any reunions or interviews.
When Justin Lee Collins interviewed Erkan Mustafa (Roland) about the alleged drug use, Erkan refused to comment and was quite abrupt with Collins if I recall.
Overall, Series 9 is a knockout and this final episode is a nice upbeat ending to quite a dramatic series.
There’s a brief serious bit at the start where Mrs McClusky rejects and bins Miss Partridge’s resignation letter and explains she and Mr Baxter will be offering their own resignations with major repercussions. But we don’t get a resolution in this episode – was it structured as an open ended plot to allow some of the cast to leave? If so then it’s unfortunate that Michael Cronin was the only one of the three to not return the following year as it’s hard to imagine a deputy head’s resignation being accepted but not the head’s in such circumstances.
On the original transmission this episode was a week after the previous one as Good Friday came in between. Going out on April Fools Day means the silliness would have felt especially appropriate here. But…
Immediately after transmission (and again after the December repeat which was also slightly delayed by Boxing Day falling on a Friday) there was a “Newsround/Drugwatch Special” combining the Children’s BBC news show with the BBC’s ongoing anti drugs campaign and jointly presented by John Craven and Nick Ross. It sort to provide realistic information about drugs with reference to both Zammo’s story (a lot of the cast were in the studio) and real life cases. It focused not just on the dangers of drugs themselves but also on the pressures to try them and conform. And it was the launch for “Just Say No”. Or rather a UK cover of an existing US song and video.
It can currently be found on YouTube.