Written by Chris Ellis. Tx 8th January 1988
Freddie’s continuing to play the lovesick martyr. Positioning himself at a handy point on the route to school, he presents an abject picture of misery as Laura and Louise pass by. It’s all part of his master plan to ensnare Laura of course (quite why he’s suddenly decided that Laura is the only girl for him is a mystery). His cunning ways weren’t well received by his younger sister earlier on though. Chrissy tells him that he’s “disgusting” before stomping off to school by herself! Laura’s well aware of the game he’s playing, but she’s content to let him carry on for now. There’s a vague element of humour here, but it’s all rather laboured.
Matthew and Clarke’s friendship continues to bloom. Matthew seems to have decided that Grange Hill isn’t as bad as he’d feared …. and that’s when Mauler McCaul turns up. Like the rest of his gang, he roams the school corridors in full American football gear (like Freddie’s moping this seems less than credible) looking for vulnerable youngsters to use as a ball. Is this going provide us with S11’s Harriet the Donkey moments? Hopefully it gets, ahem, kicked into touch soon.
A little more dramatic meat is provided by a continuing spate of thefts. Miss Booth – with no evidence – seems to believe that Tegs is responsible whilst the new head of the first year – Mrs Reagan – seems much more relaxed about the whole affair. So far we’ve seen very little of Tegs, although we’ve heard quite a lot about him. Most of the accounts have been negative – meaning that his card already seems to have been marked by some of the teachers (especially Miss Booth who, despite her free and easy air, has been shown in the past to be rather dogmatic and inflexible). That his character has been sharply defined in his absence is an interesting touch – the question is, will he live up to these low expectations?
Gonch still hasn’t given up on his money-making exercises (even if his right-hand man Hollo has disappeared – never to be spoken of again). This episode he’s giving the first years a guided tour of the building and, complete with his rolled up umbrella, he’s the epitome of a cheerful tour guide. The moment when he introduces Mr Griffiths as one of Grange Hill’s finest ancient moments is a proper laugh-out-loud moment.
That pair of juvenile delinquents – Tegs and Justine – find their relationship developing. Both are cooling their heels outside Mrs McClusky’s office – Tegs because of his poor attendance (and it’s only day two) and Justine because of her shocking pick blouse.
There’s a cracking cliffhanger. Laura returns home to find out the reason why her mother has had in a spring in her step recently. She’s got a new boyfriend, the oily, moustachioed Simon (Peter Meakin). His opening line is a classic. “So this is the lovely Laura. But not quite as lovely as her mother”. I think the way he rubs the back of Mrs Reagan’s neck whilst saying this is what makes the moment just a little off-putting.
I think we’re going to have trouble with this new arrival ….
One thought on “Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Two”
A thought strikes me about Matthew and his family – did a schoolgirl with a uniform with a hat like his sister’s scream “private school” in 1988 to the point it didn’t need to be said out loud? I can’t remember the details of his background from later down the line but everything here points to a rich family that’s suddenly had a financial shortfall, presumably somehow involving his absent father, and moving a child from private to state school is one way of making savings. But that can make for a massive fish out of water situation, made worse by his mother’s attitude.
American Football had a brief surge in popularity in the UK in this period so Mauler & co’s look wasn’t as implausible as it now seems, though looking back it seems the media assumed it to be a bigger thing than it actually was. A contemporary comic has it popping up in competitions, adverts and a match is even the backdrop for a public service announcement bonus story.