Written by Barry Purchese. Tx 10th February 1987
The pupils are en-route to begin their half-term canal boat adventure. Their journey is illustrated by a brief shot of two mini-buses bombing down the motorway whilst they all enthusiastically sing The Chicken Song (although it quickly descends into la, la, la, as nobody seems to remember the words).
Freddie’s going to be a problem. He’s commandeered one of the two toilets and turned it into a wardrobe for his incredibly diverse collection of clothes. Since all he really needs are jeans, a sweater and a comfortable pair of boots, there’s no sensible reason for him to have brought so many expensive togs. I fear it’s going to be a long week with him on board ….
Mr Kennedy offers a short homily about canal boat safety. But with the likes of Ziggy, Robbie and Trevor standing by the quayside, this week seems like an accident waiting to happen. A slight moment of dramatic tension is introduced when we observe a stranger lurking in the bushes, watching the departing boats. Our mystery man pops up several times throughout the episode, his hand constantly pulling back the bushes – all the better to spy.
Freddie is the first to be allowed to steer the boat, something which irks Ziggy no end. And why are all the children wearing life jackets but Mr Kennedy and Mr Scott aren’t? Given the lectures we’ve already had on safety, this seems more than a little remiss. Fay’s ginormous camcorder is a sign of the times (today you’d probably get better picture quality on a phone).
The relationship between Laura and Banksie was one which I didn’t see coming. It begins here. Freddie and Julie want to head out for an evening stroll but Mrs Reagan tells them that they need at least three in their party. Georgina agrees to go along and Mrs Reagan then corrals an unwilling Banksie to join them. Laura (tiring of Julia’s constant sniping about Freddie) also decides to join them.
But for once, Freddie had an ulterior motive which didn’t involve canoodling with Julie. The mystery man lurking in the bushes turns out to be Ant (so those brief moments of tension didn’t last long) meaning that Freddie’s turned cupid in order to reunite Georgina and Ant. Quite why Ant would want to traipse all this way (he’s been seeing Georgina regularly anyway) is slightly baffling and the possibility that his attempt to stowaway will be successful seems to be rather on the low side.
Banksie places an arm around Laura’s shoulders but their interaction goes no further at the moment. But the fact she doesn’t shrug it off or look askance at him tells its own story.
Ziggy’s a terrible cook. This is another of those obvious moments – after his proud boast that he would be able to knock them up a tasty meal with no trouble, it would have been more of a surprise had he actually delivered something edible. Mr Kennedy is once again cast in the role of the long-suffering onlooker – viewing the devastation wreaked in the kitchen with dismay. Luckily Roland’s on hand to save the day with a cauliflower cheese (although Mr Kennedy did earlier on ask him to keep an eye on Ziggy, something which he rather failed to do). I guess you can say at present that the interest levels in these various plotlines are quite low.
Mr Scott is also a member of the trip, but the kind-hearted Mr Kennedy decided to stow him far away from the third year boys. No doubt he quickly began to regret this, since it means that Mr Kennedy has to bear the brunt of their idiotic behaviour. Jeffrey Kissoon is excellent as the increasingly harassed teacher.
Freddie (ironically dubbed ‘Johnny Cool’ by Gonch) turns out to be an industrial strength snorer, which rather obviously dents his romantic lover image. A trip to the farm isn’t a highlight for him either – he’s dressed in his snazziest clothes, there’s mud and water around, do I really need to go on?
Gonch and Ronnie have their first argument, although since they’ve only just become an item (on screen at least) this doesn’t carry a great deal of weight. She’s irked that Gonch and Trevor take it in turns to steer the girl’s barge (she’d agreed that only Gonch could do so). That Gonch still likes to lark about with the boys (Trevor has now completely shook off his briefly held bully persona) shouldn’t really have come as any surprise to her though.
Mr Kennedy, now incandescent with rage at the boys, decides that Robbie, Ziggy, Trevor and Gonch should go camping – but first they have to start from the middle of nowhere and find their tent. And if they don’t discover it then they’re likely to have a long, cold and hungry night. Mr Scott explains the rules to them – here he’s far removed from his earlier, hesitant school-based persona.
It’s a bit of a con of course, the teachers are monitoring them from a distance, but it’s mildly entertaining nonetheless. A pity that they couldn’t film at night though (instead we have a night filter placed on the camera). The episode ends with one of the barges genty floating downstream at night …