Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 6th February 1987
Gonch is back and bearing gifts. They’re mostly for Ronnie – earrings, a scarf and first of all a bunch of flowers.
Mr Glover pops up for the first time this year. He’s his usual charmless self and today is baffled as to why everybody’s raising money for Danny. As one of the more anti-social members of the school community he wonders why anyone would waste their time on him (he doesn’t quite come out and say it wouldn’t matter if he lived or died, but that seems to be his general drift).
Besides, he believes all these extra-curricular activities are getting in the way of Grange Hill providing their pupils with a decent education. This is a not unreasonable point (in this episode Freddie seems to live in the radio room, so quite how he’s managing to do his schoolwork is a mystery) but Mr Glover doesn’t seem to comprehend that the school should also operate as a community. When it does, then it can teach important life sessons.
As a businessman he seems to embrace the Thatcherite ideal that there’s no such thing as society. Everybody should look out for themselves and the weak are presumably left to perish. No wonder that Julia rolls her eyes rather delightfully at this latest diatribe.
Gonch isn’t the only returnee as Laura’s back after a long absence. Although Gonch’s absence was scripted – Laura’s presumably just been hanging around the school always just out of shot.
As a recovering addict, it’s possibly not surprising that Zammo’s become a master of manipulation. He wants Jackie to come with him to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting during half term. This means she would miss the canal trip – but this is all the better in Zammo’s eyes, as he doesn’t like the thought of her and Banksie being stuck together for a week on the same barge. So is Zammo being sincere when he tells her that he needs her moral support during this difficult period or does he simply not want to risk that she might restart her relationship with Banksie? If it’s the latter then he’s clearly not a trusting person ….
It was already hinted at last time, but Gonch’s return has something of a destabilising effect. Hollo finds himself a little sidelined as Gonch is now spending more time with Ronnie than he is with him. Vince is put out that Hollo shares the secret of their underground secret den (he might want to bring Ronnie – a girl! – back there) whilst even Calley exchanges a brief look with Hollo that suggests she’s not terribly happy with the current situation either. Although to be fair to Calley she’s much more understanding than Hollo is.
Banksie attempts once more to win Jackie back, but with the same lack of success. And his face falls even further when she tells him that she’s not going on the canal trip after all (Gonch will be taking his place) as instead she’ll be accompanying Zammo to Narcotics Anonymous. Poor Banksie, his plaintive cry of “oh why don’t you like me?” after Jackie leaves the common room would surely melt even the hardest of hearts.
Donkey watch. A Harriet free episode, hurrah!
And so we bid farewell to Imelda. After her violent antics in the previous episode she leaves in a much more low-key way. After yet another classroom disagreement she sinks to the floor and refuses to move. So the passing Mr Mackenzie clears the room and tells her that he can wait there all day until she decides to get up by herself. Mrs McClusky decides expulsion is the only answer and asks Mr Glover, who’s popped by to harangue her about various matters, to sanction it. The way his eyes light up make it clear this is something he’s more than happy to do!
We meet Mrs Davis (Marcia King) for the first and last time. Although it’s recently been revealed that Imelda meets with an educational psychologist we’ve not (unlike Roland) been privy to any of those meetings. Therefore Imelda’s always remained an unfathomable character.
Will Mrs Davis provide any pointers as to why her daughter is the way she is? Well Mrs Davis is a little brassy and, to begin with, unconcerned. She knows that her daughter is (at best) naughty but presumably considers that it’s the school’s problem, not hers. Only when Mrs McClusky tells her that Imelda will have to leave and possibly attend a special unit (for children like Imelda “who are a little disturbed and have difficulty fitting in”) does she react. Mrs Davis curls her lip at this. “You teachers. The labels you put on people”.
Mr Kennedy wishes Imelda all the best as she leaves, but characteristically she doesn’t respond. Therefore she remains an enigma right until the end.