Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Twenty Four

grange hill s10e24.jpg

Written by David Angus.  Tx 27th March 1987

The sun is (mostly) shining on the day of the great cricket charity match, with the on-field activity playing out mostly as you’d expect.  Freddie and Julia are first up for the pupils (she continues to grizzle – wondering why he picked her instead of Julie – whilst he typically takes charge, telling her only to run when he says so).

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that those – such as Freddie – who weren’t particularly in favour of a mixed match are the ones to perish most embarrassingly.  He’s bowled by Mrs McClusky and caught by Miss Booth – something which delights them and disgusts him!

When the staff step up to the crease, Mr Glover also has a humiliating exit although Mr Bronson, by contrast, is able to leave with dignity.  The way that Mr Bronson – immaculately dressed with his cricket cap and dickey-bow – confidentially takes command of the wicket suggests that he’ll also be set for an early bath.  And so he is, but Mr Bronson displays hidden depths as he accepts the decision without a murmur, only pausing to complement Robbie on the quality of his delivery.  The normally placid Mr Mackenzie doesn’t take things so well though – leaving the crease with a very ill grace ….

The cricket match is a light-hearted spot of end-of-term fun, allowing us to see the staff (especially Mrs McClusky in something of a new light).  The way that Mrs McClusky flings herself around the pitch with wild abandon is something of a treat.

But the episode also serves to wrap up some long-running plot threads, although others are left dangling.  Zammo and Jackie finally pluck up the courage to postpone their wedding plans, although they do say it’s only postponed – not cancelled (maybe they will marry in the future, just not yet).

The relationship between Ant and Georgina has come to a more permanent end though.  This was something I thought had been wrapped up a few episodes ago, but series ten never seems to know when a story is dead and buried.  So for the umpteenth time Georgina tells Ant that she’s finished with him, leaving the boy to once again smoulder with the injustice of it all.

The Banksie/Lucy/Laura triangle remains unresolved.  There certainly seems to be an attraction between Banksie and Lucy (although since he’s working at the school where she’s a pupil, surely there’s the potential for a Mr King/Fay type problem?).  Although neither directly articulate their feelings, Laura does – she’s still cast as the jealous one – but we never see Banksie make an on-screen choice.

Before we wave goodbye to the pupils of Hazelrigg Road, there’s another opportunity to see how the presence of disabled children discomforts one of the regulars.  Hollo, collecting bets on the cricket match, takes a wager from Perry, but is apprehensive when he’s told that he’ll need to reach into his pocket to get the money.  This is pretty much Hollo’s last major scene in the series, as he’s one of a number of regulars not to return next year.

The absence of the sixth-formers is understandable (although the concept of an upper-sixth form had been established, we wouldn’t see it in operation for a few years) as is the fact that Ant Jones no longer continues to darken the doors of Grange Hill (he was already surplus to requirements this year).

There’s also something of a teacher clear-out, as Mr Kennedy, Mr Scott and Miss Partridge all vanish without a word.  The absence of Mr Scott from series eleven is slightly irksome.  Since the travails of his character was one of the major themes of series ten, it’s impossible not to feel a little short-changed by the fact that we’ll never learn if he did turn out to be a capable teacher after all.

As the staff and pupils end proceedings with a conga (all except Ant – who’s yet again positioned as the outsider looking in) it concludes the weakest season by some margin of GH to date.  There were some positives – it was nice to see Banksie receive a decent storyline, Mr Scott’s journey (despite his abrupt exit) was also not without interest – but the negatives – Harriet the donkey, slapdash and sloppy scripting (some storylines seemed interminable, others weren’t as developed as they could have been) – tended to overshadow the good moments.

Series eleven offers the chance for a fresh start, with a new roster of first years.  Will the quality pick up?  We shall see shortly.

6 thoughts on “Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Twenty Four

  1. Last episode with the flying sausage opening sequence and also with the departure of Zammo, Fay and Roly, the last student links with the Tucker Jenkins era are severed

    Liked by 1 person

    • In fact, with Jackie and Julie going as well, Mrs McClusky’s now the only character left from before the school merger!


  2. Music in this episode:

    Heartache – Pepsi & Shirlie
    Respectable – Mel & Kim
    Do The Conga – Black Lace

    Harriet the donkey is (understandably) still remembered with embarrassment thirty years later, but I think that the continued presence of Ant Jones is actually the single worst Grange Hill storyline up to this point. He doesn’t ever do anything dramatically ever, just broods stormily. There is definite potential in the idea of somebody who has changed schools but still hangs around the old one – most teenagers will understand the difficulty of moving on – but all sadly unexplored.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ricky Simmonds (Ant) has given a couple of interviews over the years. He states his character was only supposed to last one series and naturally leave at the conclusion of his story.

      However, because he was so popular with the viewers, they brought Ant Jones back for an additional year. Sadly, his presence in Series 10 seemed a bad fit – like they didn’t know what to do with him.

      Maybe having him in just a handful of episodes would have been good, but not most of the series. He just seemed to loiter around the school gates waiting for Georgina most of this year.


  3. Each time I watch this episode, I always feel a sense of sadness as it really is the end of an era.

    The summery atmosphere, the sound of Pepsi & Shirley’s ballad ‘Heartache’ and Ant’s lonely exit at during the final credits all add to a sense of farewell for GH’s strongest era.

    Series 11 would still have plenty to offer, but the absense of many prominent characters (both pupils & teachers) did leave a void.

    It was such a shame this episode was a bit lame in comparison to the sports day finale the previous year.


  4. I thought I had memories of this series from the time (most likely the autumn repeat which coincided with starting a new school) but I found the only familiar moments are the ones from various documentaries and YouTube compilations over the years. Which is strange as I do remember the opening title sequence and music.

    Ant has been pointless this season and I’m not surprised to discover it was because he was only kept around due to popularity. But he’s not the only one. The sixth form is clearly something the show is still struggling to develop with only Banksey really used well this year. Otherwise the characters have been used poorly, mainly as part of general cross year storylines and/or relationships. It also doesn’t help that a lot of the talk about various qualifications are literally terms from a different era (in the real world this was the last year of O-Levels, which seem to have been called “GCEs” more at the time than since) and having vocational course and tracks around in a school is not something everyone would recognise.

    Part of the problem may have been a fear the characters were getting too old. At the time CBBC officially had an age range of 3-16, with Grange Hill definitely at the upper end, and the 17-18 upper sixth may have been feared too old. But it means we have characters known to be in their last year onscreen but not in school and so it’s hard to do decent conclusions with them. IIRC the next lot of sixth formers shown will take the plunge with the upper sixth and even have one shown in their first post school year.

    Zammo has been a particular disappointment as we haven’t really seen much of his recovery or showing that he’s off drugs. It would have been so obvious to have him take a character and show signs of how he’s off. (Robbie might actually be the best choice for this given his attitude.) I’m not sure where I saw them but IIRC Lee MacDonald and Melissa Wilks have appeared onscreen side by side in various retrospectives and said they believe Zammo and Jackie are still together to this day. The actors remain great friends but were never a real life item.

    At the lower end the other problem is the third formers are being given the sillier stories (Mr Scott aside), simply because they’re the youngest of the three years shown. Contrast to series 7 when Zammo’s third year was the youngest in focus but there was a much greater seriousness, helped by having only two years to focus on.

    Overall this series has also shown that twenty-four episodes are too many. Last year had some really strong storylines that could sustain the whole run but this one could have lost four or six episodes and really trimmed off the fat.


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