Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Nine

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Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 2nd February 1988

The peace of Laura’s breakfast is disturbed by the arrival of Simon. This obviously doesn’t please her (no doubt he picked up on this by the subtle way she banged a dish down on the table). True, Simon is his usual boorish self – grabbing the newspaper off her without thinking to ask first – but you could also argue that Laura’s not prepared to meet him half way. This is a plotline that’s been in a holding pattern for a while – Mrs Reagan loves Simon whilst Laura loathes him – with no sign of advancement.

I’m surprised to see that Gonch, Ziggy and Robbie’s kit hire service is still up and running. A few episodes back it seemed to be knocked on the head after Mr Robson rumbled them (or was that possibly just the reminder service?). Ziggy finds himself at the mercy of some fifth years who aren’t at all happy with the level of service being provided. These scenes are chiefly interesting for the way that Ziggy’s suddenly become the fall guy and junior partner – Gonch and Robbie very much have the air of senior partners, leaving the hapless Ziggy to do all the donkey work.

Mr Robson’s latest wheeze sees him launch an access club – featuring the likes of Badminton, Table Tennis, Weightlifting and Five a Side Football. Freddie’s not pleased, as it’ll mean that football practice will have to be cut down. This allows Freddie to once again restate his contempt for non-competitive sports. Instead, he harks back to the good old days of Mr Baxter and penny under the mat.

Helen continues to obsess about her tattoo, convinced that it’s growing larger. I love the way that Georgina shows the minimum of concern about her friend’s plight – she’s much more interested in filing her nails! Jane is the latest to view the tattoo and her obviously feigned delight only helps to reinforce the notion that Helen’s made a big mistake. She then confides to Georgina that “I bet Paula Yates had never had this problem” (yes a touch ungrammatical).

Vince has never been the brightest, but as the years roll on he seems to be regressing backwards. How else could you explain the fact that he believes Trevor’s assertion that he’s not only seen Helen’s tattoo, but that the two are an item? If that’s difficult to believe, then the notion that Trev’s prepared to nobly stand aside in order that Vince can ask her out is just bizarre ….

Danny’s return (he’s been in Scotland for a check-up apparently) sees him haunting the art room whilst avoiding Mr Robson. He’s also on hand to give Fiona and Ronnie some musical advice as they continue to craft their hip hop magnum opus. Quite how or why Danny’s suddenly become an expert (or even someone whose opinion they value) is never quite made clear.

The saga of the strip hire rumbles on. Surprisingly for a Margret Simpson script (she was always one of GH‘s more distinctive writers) the boys hit on a master plan which operates along rather sexist lines – they’ve got all these dirty clothes that need washing, so why not invite Calley and Ronnie to become equal partners? They can do the washing (well, they’re girls after all) whilst the boys handle the rough stuff, such as tangling with the likes of Big Tel (David Parker).

The episode ends with a “comedy” chase. Big Tel’s less than delighted that he was given one of Mr Robson’s football shirts (the teacher noticed and called him a thief) so there’s the inevitable run-around as he attempts to extract a suitable revenge. It’s mainly of interest due to the fact it continues during the end credits whuch at least allows it to be snappily edited. And if you think that this is one “comedy” chase without Mauler then think again – as he and his Grid Iron crew pop up out of nowhere to carry Gonch off. Quite what they’re doing wandering about the streets still dressed in their American football gear is a mystery which I don’t think has an answer.

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