Grange Hill. Series Twelve – Episode Seventeen

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Written by Sarah Daniels. Tx 28th February 1989

It’s revealed that Mr Griffiths was single-handedly able to subdue the intruder (well, after Ziggy, Robbie, Mauler and Ted all went screaming off into the night he had no choice).  The mystery individual is now safely locked up in Mrs McClusky’s office – although the rumour has still spread like wildfire that it’s actually a ghost.

No, I don’t think this is terribly plausible either. It certainly stretches credibility to breaking point to see Robbie and Ziggy continuing to believe in supernatural occurrences (I know they’re not supposed to be the sharpest knives in the drawer, but still).

Thankfully we don’t have long to wait before the truth is put out there – a former classmate of Zammo’s, Gareth (Adrian Jeckells), has been forced to sleep rough in the school. There’s an obvious missed opportunity here as the storyline would have had a great deal more impact had the sleeper been a Grange Hill old boy we’d previously met – Zammo, Kevin, Banksey, etc.

That way, the brief tale of his life post GH would have carried a great deal more resonance.  But there’s still a certain weight to this scene – in earlier years it was suggested that life after school could be hard, but it’s never been spelt out in quite this fashion. It certainly makes you stop and wonder which of the current crop of pupils might find themselves in a similar position a few years down the line.

Gareth’s current choices seem limited, with no hostel accommodation available (plus he’s too old to be taken into care).  But Mr Bronson comes riding to the rescue (another sign of his recent change of personality) as he tells Mrs McClusky that Gareth can stay with himself and his sister on a temporary basis.

You have to say that Tegs is probably the most likely candidate to find himself on the streets once his time at Grange Hill is over. But for now he’s landed on his feet – fostered in a comfortable and welcoming home where he’s treated very well. But as he confides to Justine, there’s still something missing – the love of his real mother.  This sets us up nicely for a decent storyline – Tegs’ search for his mother.

Elsewhere, Clarke and Matthew are still on the trail of Clarke’s missing bike (I’m getting rather tired of typing that). Their next lead is a vicar (don’t ask) but they’re unable to follow him after he hops onto a bus. Tune in next time for the next thrilling installment ….

Helen’s knuckling down to some serious study, intent on getting the grades she needs for her engineering course. This leaves Georgina feeling a little sidelined, as she just wants to have fun.  Poor Georgina has had the short end of the character stick this year – either she’s been mauled by Trev or has had to suffer Ziggy’s faltering line in seduction. Either way it’s not been much of a role.

As I work my through through series twelve, I’ve pondered a few times about whether the standard of plotting had fallen over the last few years or if the audience is supposed to pick up instantly the way certain plots would develop. The blind date between Mauler and Big Tel is a case in point.

As soon as Big Tel’s name was mentioned, followed by the appearance of Mauler slapping his date form down, my senses began to prickle. That was certainly enough for me, although for those not paying attention everything was sledgehammered home later (Gonch has a dating slip from a Mau …., who likes cooking. It has to be a girl of course, so it must be Maureen).

Things wind their way to their inevitable comic conclusion, although as this is the last time we see Big Tel it looks as if Mauler will need to seek retribution from Ziggy, Robbie, et al all by himself next time.

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5 thoughts on “Grange Hill. Series Twelve – Episode Seventeen

  1. Entirely different reasons to Danny Kendall’s demise, but that episode ending with Mauler yelling “GARDNEEERRRRRR!!!!!!!” to the sky is another one seared into my brain…

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    • It’s not quite as good as Mr Bronson’s “KENDALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!” at the end of episode 7 though.

      Was the Wrath of Khan regularly on TV around this time?

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  2. The identity of Gareth as the night prowler in the school was a missed opportunity by the producers I reckon.

    Surely, they could have briefly brought back one of the original 1982-87 year group to make this plot more plausible and satisfying for the viewers.

    I would personally have chosen Kevin Baylon (last seen in 86) or Banksie for this plot. It would have been a great story to highlight how a series regular has fallen on hard times post their education.

    Sadly, because we have never met Gareth before, this plot doesn’t have the appetising conclusion it could have had.

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    • It does feel like Gareth’s storyline was plotted on the assumption they could get a returning character. However the pool for potential returns wouldn’t be great – assuming a five or six year audience turnover you’d need someone who would be too old for sixth form, so ruling out Laura’s year but not old enough to not be known to any of the expected audience, ruling out Tucker & Trisha’s year and probably also Duane & Claire’s, leaving just Fay & Zammo’s. And the mention of “YTS” – Youth Training Scheme – suggests someone who left after the fifth form so Kevin would be the natural candidate for this role but Mmoloki Chrystie had just started in Press Gang around this time and so probably wasn’t available. Banskie had been shown getting a job out of his placement and some redemption so probably wouldn’t be so viable. And it would have been risky to give Zammo another fall that undermined the drugs message. That’s even before you get into which former cast members were still acting and would be willing to return, especially if they’d been dropped by the current producer.

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  3. Sweet Christmas this missing bicycle storyline is abysmal, the worst I’ve seen in the show. Makes the Harriet the donkey story look like Citizen Kane in comparison.

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