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.