Grange Hill. Series Twelve – Episode Eighteen

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Written by Sarah Daniels. Tx 3rd March 1989

A reporter from the local radio station, Paula Beatley (Barbara Durkin, probably best known for her regular role in I’m Alan Partridge), is in the school, which causes both Mr Bronson and Gonch to go into overdrive ….

It’s noticeable that the comedy gets ramped up in this episode, and it works very well (there are some genuine laugh out loud moments).  They centre around the continuing efforts of both Mr Bronson and Gonch to get a moment alone with Ms Beatley. Gonch, of course, wants to chat about his dating service but I’m not entirely sure why Mr Bronson is so keen for a chat, that’s never elaborated upon.

Maybe he’s just smitten with her? The way he holds her hand when Mrs McClusky reluctantly introduces him is a case in point (he doesn’t shake it, just clings onto it for dear life).  After the heaviness of the Danny Kendall storyline, it’s surprising how quickly Mr Bronson has been transformed into an object of comic relief – today he’s capering around the school, always one step behind Ms Beatley.

The most notable comedy amount occurs when Mr Bronson pokes his head through a row of books in the library. There’s just something about this image (and the expression on Michael Sheard’s face) which tickles my funny bone.

As for Gonch, every time he gets close to Ms Beatley he finds himself apprehended by Mauler. Or Mauler’s just about to pulverise him when Ms Beatley comes into view. Either way, Gonch never gets a chance to explain about the dating scheme (Ziggy and Robbie gazump him on that score).

There are several reasons why Mauler’s never been in the Gripper class of bully. Partly because Mauler has mostly been played for laughs, but also because we’ve never really seen him attack anyone in the way that Gripper would (gleefully kicking Roland around, for example).

So when Mauler gives a piece of dough a good hammering (explaining to Ted exactly what he’s going to do to Gonch) you just know that we’re not going to see anything really happen – this bakery substitute will have to do. Mauler later corners Gonch and threatens to stick a whisk “straight up where the sun don’t shine”. Cripes, that’s a bit rude, although this painful image is quickly diffused when Mauler explains that he means his left nostril. Something of a cop-out ….

Robbie is rather smitten with Ms Beatley. By the smug grin on his face you can tell that the lad thinks he’s pulled.

The quest to find Tegs’ mother begins to pick up speed whilst I’m cautiously optimistic to report that we can finally put the saga of Clarke’s missing bike to bed. After all this time it’s drawn to an odd (and rather oddly directed) conclusion.

It looks like the bike was pinched by a vicar’s son. He doesn’t react when Clarke goes racing up to the vicarage window and plonks down a bugging device, allowing us to hear the conversation between vicar and son (a bit of a cop-out). Neither does the lad show any emotion when Clarke wheels the bike away. After so many episodes you could be forgiven for expecting a little bit more, but let’s not grumble otherwise the bike might get stolen again.

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