Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 8th January 1980
It’s the start of a new school year and Grange Hill is preparing itself for an influx of fresh first years. Mr Sutcliffe has spent hours going around the school putting up signs to help the newcomers, but unfortunately things don’t quite go to plan.
As with the notices seen in the very first episode, the arrows can be moved in the opposite direction – and Cathy does so here. When will people learn that it’s a much better idea to draw the arrows on! Mr Sutcliffe also attracts the ire of Mr Garfield and his colleague – since all the notices (affixed with sellotape) have damaged the walls. This allows Mr Sutcliffe to make some forceable points to both of the caretakers, about how a school exists to serve the interests of the pupils (leaving you with the feeling that all school caretakers would much prefer it if there were no children about …)
Amongst the influx of new arrivals are Michael Green (Mark Bishop) and Karen Stanton (Carey Born). Both are escorted to school by their older brothers, Benny and Andrew – but once they arrive things are very different. Andrew is overprotective to a ridiculous degree, which irritates the independent Karen no end, whilst Benny leaves the overawed Michael very much to his own devices.
The other main characters in the first form are Duane Orpington (Mark Baxter), Tracey Edwards (Amanda Mealing) and Douglas “Pogo” Patterson (Peter Moran). Out of this crop of newcomers, only Pogo and Duane would reach the fifth form – poor Karen and Tracey don’t even manage to make it to the second half of this school year!
This was a common problem during the series’ entire run – children would drop out for various reasons (exams, etc) and replacements would have to be drafted in. In series four, it’s clear to see that Tracey’s place was taken by Clare Scott (both of them were friends with Duane, for example) whilst Karen was replaced by Suzanne Ross.
On the teacher front, Miss Peterson (Cheryl Branker) attracts some casual racist comments from Doyle, although he’s wise enough to make them just out of her earshot. Our first sight of Miss Mooney – dropping a pile of textbooks with an annoyed comment of “bother” – is a characteristic introduction to someone who always seems slightly disorganised, but is also a first-rate teacher who cares for her pupils.
Since the first two series covered one school year, series three and four cover another – and in the gap between the second and third series the original influx of pupils have moved from the first form to the third. The only time this gap doesn’t quite work is when Trisha asks Sudhanami Patel (Sheila Chandra) why she’s still wearing school uniform, since it’s now been made optional. She’s had a whole (unseen) year to ask that question!
The theft of Duane’s bike seems to be an isolated incident, but we’ll see that the bike thefts become a running theme through the early episodes – culminating in Madelin Tanner receiving her long-awaited comeuppance.