Grange Hill. Series Thirteen – Episode Eleven

Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 6th February 1990

It’s been discussed for a while, but today we finally see just how wretched Matthew’s home life now is. He’s living in temporary accommodation along with his mother and sister (a single room with no bathroom in a rather squalid building).

And although no violence from the other residents is shown, we do hear it (the episode concludes with Matthew and his sister, Lucy, locked inside their room listening to shouts and screams elsewhere in the building). As ever, GH had to tread a fine line between attempting to display the reality of a situation and knowing that they very were restricted in what could be portrayed at 5.00 pm on a weekday afternoon.  Yes, everything could have been much nastier, but I think the point was still well made.

Throughout the episode Matthew suffers more and more – he’s unable to find the book Miss Monroe lent him (so he’ll have to pay for it), then he’s cornered by Justine and Chrissy who are looking for his t-shirt money (I thought he’d paid for that before) and finally he glumly looks at his bust shoe (which seems to be beyond repair).

Moving onto Tegs, it’s noticeable in the past that the series had often elected not to show certain dramatic moments, instead they simply reported them. This happens again here – the previous episode concluded with Tegs absconding from his mother’s house but today we’re told that he went back shortly afterwards and spent a fairly convivial weekend with her. It’s a very odd move – not only for the way it negates the tension of episode ten’s cliffhanger, but also because it’s a very offhand way to pay off a storyline that’s been developing over several years.

Elsewhere in the episode, Rod continues to turn a fast buck (selling cigarettes to the first years) whilst Mauler is still incensed that he’s not on Mr Hargreaves’ vigilance committee. The saga of the t-shirts also rumbles on, with arguments aplenty (the test shirts have run in the wash). Given how shambolic things have been so far, it’s hard to see how the girls are ever going to turn a profit.

Julie only has a few lines in this episode, but she still catches the eye. At several points she’s framed in the background, silent and alone. These shot choices seem to be intentional, suggesting that her lack of confidence and self esteem will be developed further in future episodes.

Miss Booth and Mr Hargreaves continue to clash, which provides the episode with a few minutes of entertainment. Today, she’s incensed that he’s chosen her to supervise a butcher, who’s come along to give a talk on the best ways to cut up meat.  That’s an odd sort of public speaker it has to be said.

Will this act as a red rag to Ronnie? Well, not really, although she’s clearly not best pleased about it and storms off to speak to Mrs McClusky (Mrs McClusky is unmoved though). Ronnie’s given the chance not to attend, but she does so anyway – although no outbursts are forthcoming from her. But I’ve a feeling she’s keeping her powder dry for future adventures.

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