Grange Hill. Series Twelve – Episode Eleven

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Written by David Angus. Tx 7th February 1989

The episode opens with Mr Griffiths arriving to open up the school. Not terribly exciting you might think, but it serves to establish that someone is already there, hiding out. I wonder who it could be? Wait a minute, we’ve already been told last time that Tegs has disappeared (he didn’t want to be taken into care). Puzzle solved then.

Ziggy and Robbie are lounging around, watching the girls go by. Robbie has a brief letch at a few passing extras (bad boy, what would Calley say?) but Ziggy only has eyes for Georgina. Some GH relationships are rather on/off – whereas Ziggy/Georgina seems to have been stuck in the ‘off’ position for ages.

Another long-running plotline – boozy old Trev – is briefly touched upon as we see him swigging from a can of lager in the playground. He’s either bolder (or drunker) than he used to be, or maybe the teachers very rarely patrol the playground these days.

The chief attraction at the start of this episode is Mr Bronson though. Arriving in his car (yes, the one where Danny met his end) he receives the silent treatment from a bunch of extras and a fair few regulars. When a pile of papers blows off the top of his car there’s an uncomfortable few minutes as he picks them up (all the time numerous pairs of eyes are watching him reproachfully).

Kind-hearted Calley retrieves one of the papers, but Fiona makes her put it back. So the scene continues in silence as Mr Bronson is forced to collect it himself and sadly walk away. Michael Sheard suffers in silence quite beautifully here.

Calley and Fiona’s difference of opinion is later replicated by Helen and Georgina. Helen is touched by how hurt Mr Bronson looks in class, whilst Georgina (displaying a rare burst of hardness) counters that he asked for it.

Mr Griffiths later shares the strange tale of the mysterious noises in the school with Miss Booth. She’s a sympathetic listener, congratulating him on his bravery (after all, if there had been a break-in, he might have been attacked). Mr Griffiths looks a little perturbed when this finally sinks in!

Gonch finally explains the ins and outs of his homework service to Mandy. When he declares that he’s doing it purely to help others (money is not a consideration, oh no) she’s delightfully deadpan. Both John McMahon and Melanie Hiscock have good comic timing in this scene. Had Gonch returned for S13 presumably Mandy would as well. What we see here suggests that both characters could have been developed quite nicely over the next few years, but it wasn’t to be.

If you watch the series long enough then some storylines will eventually repeat themselves (which is fair enough, since the target audience for the show would tend to refresh itself every five years or so). Back in 1981, Andrew Stanton was overcome with booze and had to be frantically hidden by Tucker, Alan, Tommy and Justin.

Today, Robbie and Ziggy have taken charge of an alcohol-sodden Trev. The same problems still exist – such as the odd close shave (Mr Mackenzie and Mr Griffiths pass them by but luckily Trevor was able to stay upright and fairly presentable for those precious few seconds). They leave him to sleep it off in a small anti-room next to the gym. I like the fact that Trev sleeps with his thumb in his mouth – it’s a small, but very telling, character touch.

Back in 1981 it formed a large part of the episode. That doesn’t happen here – instead it’s mainly a device to get Robbie and Ziggy back in the gym at the same time that the self awareness course (which seems to be connected to Miss Booth’s self defence course) is taking place. It’s a largely female environment, although there are a few males like Mr Robson scattered about. He gets the chance to do a spot of roleplay with Helen (both are waiting for a lift) and acts the role of a sex pest with a certain amount of relish.

The episode closes as it began. With a mysterious shadow in what should be an empty school ….

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