Grange Hill. Series Twelve – Episode Sixteen

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Written by Barry Purchese. Tx 24th February 1989

Mr Bronson appears to have undergone a change on several different fronts today. Not only does he tell Tegs (who’s still in care) that he hopes his run of bad luck will change soon, he also gives Trev a tenner towards the prom (Mandy quickly takes the note into protective custody).

A ripple of heated discussion has already gone around the fifth formers about Mr B – mainly concerned with the fact that he’s no longer wearing “it”. The attentive viewer will no doubt have already worked out what “it” is. The way Mr Bronson’s early scenes were framed exclusively on his lower half was a bit of a giveaway on that score ….

Yes, he’s now sans hairpiece. With immaculate timing, Mr Bronson saunters over to Trev and mutters that “it’s at the cleaners, Cleaver” in response to the unasked question.  Easy to imagine that Michael Sheard relished that little moment.

Helen continues to find that things are hard at the factory. Although there’s a happy ending to her time there (she gets valuable experience on the machines after she points out that Neil used the wrong drill-bit, thereby costing the company a small fortune) the most interesting part of this storyline was her earlier discussion with Mr Aldridge.

He shows Helen the computer room again and commiserates with her about the fact she’s had a tough time. The scene initially seems to be suggesting that Helen, as a woman, probably shouldn’t have been at the sharp end anyway and a nice, comfortable office job with the computers would be the best thing for her.

But that’s not the case. Mr Aldridge continues by bemoaning the fact that there simply wasn’t the time to train her to do anything useful (which isn’t their fault, it’s more to do with the way the placements are designed). This is a subtle but definite strike against the government, which was a little surprising to see (the series had been quite political in its early years, not so much recently).

Mandy and Gonch, in order to prove to Ziggy and Robbie that their computer dating questionnaire was hopelessly flawed, have arranged a blind date for Robbie and a lucky young lady (selected by the computer at random).  Robbie believes he’ll be stepping out with Emma Thompson (not that one) but he’s going to be disappointed. Can you guess who the computer believes is his perfect mate? Although the mystery is strung out for a little while, it should come as absolutely no surprise to learn that Calley is the (un)lucky girl.

Neither are delighted.

The episode ends with a mob – Ziggy, Robbie, Mauler, Ted, Mr Griffiths – chasing round the school at night, all intent on finding the intruder.  This may not be the most engaging storyline ever (thankfully though it hasn’t lingered quite as long as the saga of Clarke’s missing bike) but it’s just about worth it for George A. Cooper’s weary expressions of resignation.

You can tell that Mr Griffiths was looking forward to a nice quiet evening tracking the culprit down all by himself. But that went for a burton once the boys turned up as now it’s all hollering and a general testosterone overload.

The episode ends with Mr Griffiths running straight into the mystery man or woman. But in current time-honoured GH fashion (stretch those plotlines to breaking point, why don’t you) we don’t see who it is. Fingers crossed that next time this not-very-interesting mystery will be solved.

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