Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Ten

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Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 5th February 1988

Gonch, now sporting a neck brace, thanks to his previous encounter with Mauler, declares that something needs to be done about him. Ziggy agrees, leaving Robbie to shake his head at the impetuousness of them both. It’s a pity that we never actually see what happened to Gonch as Ronnie’s explanation – she found him trussed him up in Harriet’s old stable, complete with a sign saying donkey – sounds intriguing.

Why Mauler suddenly decided to attack Gonch (the two have barely, if ever, spoken) is another of those mysteries which I don’t think there’s an answer for. A case of sloppy storylining or was it designed to demonstrate that Mauler’s menace is totally random? The decision is yours.

Whilst Gonch thanks Ronnie for rescuing him (and also for not telling anyone else) this allows Robbie and Calley to enjoy a brief moment of intimacy. This slightly develops the possibility that they may become an item, although it’s still early days at present. Oh, and of course Ronnie couldn’t resist telling Calley about Gonch’s plight (she promptly told Robbie and then Ziggy found out) leading to maximum humiliation for GH’s top wheeler dealer.

Vince’s pursuit of Helen finds him running into Mauler. McCall’s not impressed with Vince’s American football top (deciding that Vince is setting up in opposition against him!). Vince is wearing the top at all times, as Trevor told him that Helen loves American football. I’ve got a feeling that Trev’s not been entirely honest with Vince ….

This is another of those slightly baffling incidental storylines. I’m not sure what’s harder to believe – the fact that Vince for a second believes that Helen (once she claps eyes on his shirt) will be overcome with passion or the notion that Mauler regards Vince as a rival. After a strong run of episodes (the two from Sarah Daniels were especially good) we seem to have hit something of a brick wall here.

The normal affable Mr MacKenzie is in a strop today. Too much petty pilfering has finally caused him to snap – although maybe the final straw came when he saw that Trevor’s pockets were stuffed with computer keys. Clearly he spends his computer studies period dismantling the keyboards! It’s been a while since the topic of limited resources and vandalism was raised (back in the early eighties it was a particularly fruitful source of drama for the series) so it’s not unpleasing to see it touched upon again.

The sudden arrival of Mr Bronson is an episode highlight. Spotting Danny Kendall being escorted by the still highly irritated Mr MacKenzie, Mr Bronson lightly skips down the corridor before bellowing “do what do we owe this honour?” to the slightly nonplussed boy. As Mr Bronson then leads Danny down away, it’s notable that the walls are looking particularly grubby. Unless I’ve previously been unobservant, I don’t think this has been a regular feature this year, so possibly – like Mr MacKenzie’s diatribe – it’s something unique to this episode. Another notable feature of their extended walk is the ambient sounds we hear as they pass various classes. Only a small touch, but it helps to create the impression that this is a living and breathing school.

Vince’s stupidity has now reached previously uncharted proportions. Despite the fact that Helen’s told him she loathes all sports (and pushed him in the fountain for good measure!) he still believes Trevor when he casually mentions that Helen’s waiting for him over by the sheds. Of course, she’s not there – but Mauler’s gang is. So Vince finds himself chained up in the bike sheds, minus his prized shirt ….

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