Grange Hill. Series Twelve – Episode Fourteen


Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 17th February 1989

Gonch and Mandy’s relationship hits a slightly rocky bump after he asks to borrow a fiver. That he does so immediately after giving her a birthday present can be marked down as very bad timing indeed.

She soon bounces back though and is full of ideas (whether they’re good or not is debatable). She muses on the possibility of Grange Hill throwing an American style Prom (do we have Grange Hill to blame for introducing this horror to the UK?) whilst she doesn’t think much of Gonch’s computer homework scheme. Mandy believes that computer dating will be a much more profitable venture ….

The episode has some incidental pleasures, most notably the revelation that Mauler is afraid of cows. Maybe one mooed at him when he was a small lad. Whatever the reason, when a group of bovines begin to stare at him in a threatening way, he falls over (straight into a cowpat). Shame.

The main dramatic beat of the episode is Trev’s fall and rise. It’s lunchtime and Trev’s drunk once again, so the well-meaning Vince and Fiona leave him to sleep it off behind a rock on the beach. The only problem is that the tide quickly goes out and before Trev knows what’s happening he’s been swept out to sea with only a rubber tyre for company.

Mr Bronson (lovely bobble hat, sir) has nipped into town to a local estate agent, clearly keen on buying a holiday (or retirement?) home. But the main reason for this scene becomes clear when the estate agent has to quickly proffer his apologies and leave – he’s one of the lifeboat crew.

Having the cooperation of RNLI Bembridge helps to give this part of the story considerable verisimilitude, as we follow the crew each step of the way – from the launching of the lifeboat to the rescue of a rather sodden Trev.

Sometimes Grange Hill‘s moral messages were subtle, other times they were rather forcibly hammered home.  Today’s is a rather forcible one, as a deeply contrite Trev promises to lay off the booze from now on.

Recovering in the dorm, Helen pays him a visit and the pair have a measured and quiet conversation. For Trevor this is something of a novelty, since he’s been unpleasant and bolshy for so long. To hear him speak with a measure of self awareness was certainly unexpected, but if a near death experience couldn’t shake him up, then I daresay nothing could.



4 thoughts on “Grange Hill. Series Twelve – Episode Fourteen

  1. The rescue of Trevor is so detailed it feels as though someone on the production team had missed out on an ambition to produce a lifeboat documentary. And given the number of incidents on field trips you have to wonder how high the school’s insurance is.

    The school bully being scared of cows is a nice touch. Maybe this is the first time Mauler’s seen one. And yes school proms used to be unknown in the UK but looking around online the phenomenon is generally attributed to the 2000s and the influence of US import, with before then schools having at most a leavers’ disco or dinner or some minor event with no great significance. I think we can exonerate Grange Hill for the development though. 1989 is a bit early to have started it and when the 1990s repeats got to this stretch of the show in the summer of 1997 they were immediately followed by US import Sweet Valley High, a much more likely culprit.


    • Yes, when I was at school if we had had a leavers’ party (which was mooted but nothing came of it) we would have gone in jeans and tee-shirts. A couple of decades later they were having leavers’ parties with girls hiring dresses for a hundred pounds.


  2. I actually had the same thought about proms when I re-watched this episode and, as I was a school leaver at around the same time, I do recall this being the period when they started being a thing. Perhaps Grange Hill was reflecting the influence of US teen movies which often centred on a prom event but I would be surprised if the show didn’t influence at least a few 1980s UK proms.

    I have visited the Isle of Wight regularly since the early 2000s so it was fun to see a slight earlier version of the place. The Portsmouth ferry terminal was very much the same 10-15 years later, although was Wightlink instead of Sealink by then. The location shoots included some familiar places but they didn’t really explore the island too much, which is a shame.


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