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.