Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Thirteen

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 17th February 1987

The pupils of Grange Hill have been allowed to have their say about the burning events of the day.  Sadly, most of the recordings aren’t really primetime radio material (Mr Bronson wears a wig, school custard isn’t great, etc) but a few voices stands out.

One of them is Fay, who’s unhappy about the inflexibility of the closed report system (no doubt she’s thinking that her dalliance with Mr King might affect her future employment prospects).  The others – Banksie, Laura, Julie, Cheryl – listening back to the recordings agree, although Banksie seems a little more interested in nuzzling Laura.  It’s been something of a whirlwind romance …

Freddie interviews Mrs McClusky.  It’s not exactly a meeting of equals, as Freddie is flustered (partly due to technical problems) whilst Mrs McClusky gives a very domineering and Thatcheresque performance.  She’s patience personified as Freddie fumbles through his questions (her sympathetic smile might be an indication that she’s hardly been tested).   His final question relates to closed reports, but she effortlessly manages to bat off his feeble points.  Reacting to his comment that the files are secret, she sweetly disagrees.  “I prefer the word confidential”.

Fay later accurately suggests that Freddie’s questions weren’t really at fault, it was more to do with the fact that Mrs McClusky – a skilled politician – is well able to avoid answering anything she doesn’t want to.  If the pupils are going to get anywhere then their methods will have to change.

Margaret Simpson’s script harks back to the early eighties, a time when Mrs McClusky ruled Grange Hill with an iron fist and ruthlessly crushed any sign of dissent quickly and effectively.  Her fury when she realises that her comments have been cut up and distorted is highly characteristic of those early days.

But did Freddie and the others really believe that they could recut her interview in a less than flattering light and she’d simply let it pass?  It seems a little naïve if so.  Wise old Mr Mackenzie tells the sixth-formers that broadcasting their message of dissent over the airwaves for all the school to hear wasn’t sensible, whereas writing a reasoned, well-argued report would be more likely to bear fruit.

Zammo and Jackie are discussing getting engaged.  Banksie is a silent – and moody – observer to their intimate chit-chat.  Since he’s now involved with Laura you may have assumed that he’s over Jackie, but given his doomy countenance I don’t think that’s the case.

The arrival of Mr Bronson in the sixth form common room – deputising for an absent Miss Partridge – doesn’t help to perk Steven Banks up.  His choice of a work experience position (a garage) differs somewhat from what he’s been offered (working in a school for handicapped children).  Julie’s going to the same school – Hazelrig Road –  a piece of news which doesn’t cheer him up, although this is nothing personal.  Banksie’s just in a typically scowly mood.

Mrs Reagan continues to pull faces whenever Laura mentions Banksie.  Is it his bad-boy image, the fact he drives a motorbike or that he’s several years older than Laura which is the main problem?  The bike appears to be the thing which upsets Mrs Reagan the most, but it may be that she’s simply using this as a convenient excuse (although motorbikes can be dangerous – especially the way that Banksie rides).

Danny makes an unexpected appearance.  He’s at home, waiting to travel up to Scotland for his first round of treatment.  Freddie and Julie ask him to record a message for the grand opening of Grange Hill’s radio station.

It seems that Cheryl’s morphed into the departed Janet.  This episode she chides Roland about his unhealthy eating habits – a bar of chocolate for breakfast – and suggests he goes on a sponsored diet.  Mind you, she finishes by saying that if he did lose a few pounds then she might fancy him, something which we never heard from Janet.  Roland pulls a speculative face at this titbit of information.

Ziggy’s plan to scale the highest building in the school and plant a banner is ongoing.  He asks Robbie to paint him a banner proclaiming that ‘Ziggy Greaves Was Here’ (not sure why, since Ziggy is a remarkably self-confident sort of chap, convinced that he can do anything himself).  Ziggy’s not too pleased with Robbie’s effort – he tells him that he’s misspelt ‘Woz’ as ‘Was’.  The fact they’re using Miss Booth’s materials without her permission spells inevitable trouble.  When they hear footsteps, they dash for the nearest cupboard but sadly forget to take the banner.  ‘Ziggy Greaves Was He’ is therefore left in full view, forcing Ziggy to attempt to extract it without Miss Booth and Mr Kennedy noticing.

Do they succeed?  Of course not.  Miss Booth sets them an appropriate punishment – they have to clear up the art room later.  Naturally they use this time to also craft a second banner (which is now painted on cloth, more sensible than the paper they initially used).  So all is well.  Well apart from the blocked sink and the inevitable comedy consequences which occur.  And at the worst possible moment Miss Booth walks in.  Oops.

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