Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 11th March 1988
Director Robert Gabriel opens this episode with an unusual shot choice. Matthew and his mother have a conversation in her car (about the upcoming custody battle) which is mainly framed in the rear-view mirror. The focus then shifts mid scene to observe what’s happening on the street before regaining focus on Matthew.
The last day of term inevitably means that people can let their hair down and so it’s in this spirit that Mr Bronson speaks to Mrs McClusky about Danny Kendall and hip-hop. The way that Mr Bronson enunciates the words “hip-hop” suggests that he’s only just learnt them.
Since Robbie, Ziggy and the others gained revenge over Mauler and his gang last time, it now means that Mauler is after counter revenge. Clearly this is the storyline that just keeps on giving. Cue yet another “comedy” chase. It’s Ziggy’s last day at Grange Hill. Although since he returns next year, this is actually bit of cheat. Although maybe the original plan was to write him out at this point?
The teachers play dress up again. Mrs McClusky takes her Little Bo Peep costume out of mothballs whilst Mr Bronson and Mr Griffiths are dressed as a couple of colonials, complete with pith helmets. Laura’s rather mortified that her mother has decided to go for the full cheerleader look.
The dramatic heart of the episode is provided by Mrs Pearson’s revelation that whilst she’s gained temporary custody of Matthew, her husband can still see him at the weekends provided a third party is present. This stipulation has upset him greatly and it raises the possibility that he may attempt to snatch Matthew from school. This is a plotline which we’ll have to wait and see whether it’s developed next year.
That we never actually saw the custody proceedings (Mrs Pearson later told Mrs Reagan what occurred) clearly helped to save a little money (no need to deck out a court with extras) but it does slightly diminish the drama of the story.
Overall, series eleven was an improvement on series ten although it still had its share of Harriet moments (Mauler McCaul was an especial lowlight). At this point in time, Grange Hill is, for me, caught in a transitional period – it would gain a new lease of life from the mid nineties up until the point when it upped sticks and moved to Liverpool, but that’s still a few years away. So at present, the series is slightly misfiring. There’s enough happening to still engage, but you have to be prepared to take the good with the bad.
11 thoughts on “Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Twenty”
Thanks 1988-1989 are my faves. Will you be doing 1989 ?
Yes, all being well I should be tackling the 1989 series in a few month’s time.
I think there were some good storylines in series 11, but to me this is the beginning of when the rot started to set in. From the new title sequence, everything started to become a bit less gritty and confrontational and a bit more middle-class and goody goody. Series 10 did have some low points (Harriet as you said), but something like the sheer drama of Mr Scott flipping at Trevor or the final big student rebellion (via Radio GH) would not be repeated again. It was starting to go down the route of moral drama rather than ‘kitchen sink’ and would be all the worse for it. Series 13 was the last watchable one for me.
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I didn’t bail until the move to Liverpool (but I may eventually get to those episodes). For me, the late eighties and early nineties are a fellow period for the programme, but by about 1994 it regained more of a spark and chugged along very nicely until the move from London.
It’ll be interesting, as I slowly make my way through, to see if this opinion still stands ….
So…is Series 12 still coming? I hope so, that marks the point I started properly watching first time round with memorable moments like the departures of Danny Kendall and Mr Bronson. I stayed with the show through to Series 29 and only stopped when the penultimate season was exiled to the CBBC Channel (I’m not even sure I could receive it at the time) and then the repeat run got pulled after one episode for spurious reasons. I’ve already regretted that because it sounds like it was good. Maybe there’ll be a DVD release but at the current release rate it’ll take about 150 years. I tried watching an episode of the last season but I didn’t know any of the characters and it had gone a bit weird so I stopped.
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It’s on my to-do list, but I do struggle with late eighties and early nineties GH. I certainly want to work through the nineties episodes, whether I’ll go on past that I don’t know. Still, there’s a good few years before I need to worry about that ….
It might be nostalgia but I am rather fond of this period.
A few departures worth noting at this stage: Apparently none of the fifth formers bothered with their A-levels, because this is the last we see of Freddie, Laura and Cheryl. Mrs Reagan apparently goes with her daughter because that’s it for her.
And a characteristically low key departure for Jane. Joann Kenny would of course soon after appear alongside fellow GH alumni Joanne Bell in The Curse of Fenric, which seems to have been her last television role. An attempt to track her down for a reunion discovered that she had died in 2010, aged just 37.
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Are you still planning on doing series 12, it is a lot better than aeries 11 in my opinion.
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As it’s been mentioned – the remaining 5th year characters bow out here. Fiona Lee Fraser (Laura Regan) was interviewed online by Grange Hill Gold early last year. Her and Simon Vaughan (Freddie) were dating in real life at the time and both decided against returning as sixth formers the following year.
I always felt the character of Jane Bishop was underused throughout her time in the programme. She seemed to form a trio with Calley and Ronnie in Series 9/10, but Michelle Gayle’s arrival as Fiona made her completely redundant and surplus to requirement.
Joann Kenny’s death at 37 was a tragedy. I believe she struggled with alcoholism in later years.
Interesting to hear there was talk of bringing at least some of Laura and Freddie’s year back for the sixth form (and Louise suggesting Ziggy lodge with her family looks like another plan) though it was rather depleted by this point. At this stage the show just doesn’t seem to know what to do with sixth formers though that does change a bit with the next generation.
Although I enjoy the fact that the final episodes of most series adopt the ‘last day of term’ approach, it can make for some patchy or rushed drama as lots of loose ends need to be tied up, and it is always a shame when long-serving characters don’t get much of a send-off (although I appreciate the producers wouldn’t always know if actors were returning or not).
I couldn’t quite work out what was going on with the Ziggy storyline. None of his friends seem remotely bothered that he is leaving, which led me to assume they were actually planning some sort of surprise send off or something – they were almost too unbothered for it to be authentic. But, it seems, the really weren’t all that concerned.
The fact that the school thief turns out to be some random fifth year we’ve never seen before is a bit of a cop out, but inevitable seeing as the focus of that storyline was all on Tegs and we already knew it wasn’t him.
I agree that the Mauler stuff was pretty ropey throughout. No real sense of menace, just ‘comedy’ chases. And that highlights an issue that you have mentioned – in early series some of these storylines would have more edge to them but that seems to have been rubbed off by the time we get to this period.