Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode One

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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.

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Two

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Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 11th January 1980

Tracey asks Duane how his father reacted to the loss of his bike.  When he turns around she can clearly see – he’s sporting a black eye.  Today this would have been developed as a major plot point, but here it’s just a fact and isn’t followed up.  It’s not the first time during the early series that children either fear, or receive, domestic abuse from their parents.  And as we’ll see later in this series, some of the teachers are also quite handy as well.  It’s one of the clearest examples of how times have changed.

When the first year head Mr Curtis (Neville Barber) spots Duane’s black eye he asks how he came by it.  When Duane tells him, all he does is sigh and lets the boy leave.  He then shakes his head sadly at Miss Mooney and the matter is closed.

The friendship between Tracey and Duane is put under strain.  Tracey finds herself teased by Karen, taunting her that Duane’s her boyfriend, whilst Duane becomes friendly (after a shaky start) with Pogo.  We also see the first signs of Pogo’s acquisitive nature – he sees putty in the windows and decides to take it.  The downside of this is that it makes the new windows fall out!

Whilst Tracey and Duane had been friends at primary school, different interests now push them into different directions – and eventually Duane will team up with Pogo whilst Tracey and Karen will become best friends.

At present, Karen is also friendly with Sally Forsyth (Sarah Summerfield).  She’s complained of feeling ill and faint several times – this is another example of seeding a plot-point which will only come to fruition in a later episode.

The putty pilfering comes to an end after Mr Curtis impresses on everyone how dangerous it can be.  But it’s put to good use by defacing the pictures of the teachers on the notice board.  Mr Baxter, for example, is given a very fetching set of horns!

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Three

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Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 15th January 1980

Mr Hopwood (Brian Capron) makes his first appearance in this episode.  Like Mr Sutcliffe, he’s a teacher who’s got the best interests of the children at heart – although he’s clearly no pushover.  In his first scene he berates Andrew and Alan for giving Justin the birthday bumps, but after he’s done this he casually tells the class it’s far too nice a day to stay inside and suggests they might as well go for a walk.

They venture out to a piece of wasteland where, as part of their environmental studies, they look at the local wildlife.  Alan nips off for a cigarette – which is the start of a long-running storyline that continues well into the fourth series. Since this brief ramble was a success, Penny and Susi ask Mr Hopwood if they can venture out into the proper countryside.  Mr Hopwood agrees, so next week the trip goes ahead.

Naturally enough it doesn’t all go smoothly – Justin steps in a cowpat and Alan and Andrew cause a fire. Alan and Andrew head off into the forest to have a cigarette, but unluckily for them Penny and Susi are also there.  Susi’s been complaining about her new bra, so Penny suggests they go somewhere quiet where she can look at it.

A comedy of embarrassing errors then occurs as the girls realise that they’re being inadvertently spied upon and the boys beat a hasty retreat – not knowing that their dropped cigarette was smouldering. It’s another example of Grange Hill’s moral tone – as the message is clearly spelt out that just one cigarette could quickly cause a blaze which might spiral out of control. But there’s a positive solution as the pupils rally round to help to put out the fire.

Susi, Penny, Alan and Andrew come to an understanding – the boys won’t tell anybody about Susi’s bra problems if they promise not to reveal how the fire started. Given how the relationship develops between Susi and Alan, it’s interesting that this episode ends with a glance between Susi and Andrew – hinting that there might be the spark (no pun intended) of attraction between the pair of them.

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Four

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Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 18th January 1980

It’s time for the school council elections.  Penny Lewis is the current rep but some people, like Trisha and Doyle, aren’t happy with her.  Trisha and Penny are totally opposite characters – which brings a healthy dose of conflict into their relationship.

Trisha and Cathy are irritated about having nowhere to go during the lunch-breaks, so that’s one of the reasons why Trisha decides to stand as a council rep.  If elected, she’ll request that the third-formers have access to common rooms, like the fifth-formers.

Doyle later makes the reasonable point to Miss Peterson that since there’s more girls than boys, any boy rep doesn’t stand much of a chance of getting elected.  Miss Peterson counters that surely sex wouldn’t be the first consideration, whilst Trisha mutters that it’s all the boys ever think about!

But Doyle’s in the right place at the right time, as it’s been decided that having both male and female reps in each year would be fair.  Doyle is elected third year boy rep (much to the disgust of Penny) whilst both Penny and Trisha are beaten by an unknown outsider.  All of Doyle’s policies are good – they should be, since they were pilfered from both Penny and Trisha.

Before the results come in, there’s an epic fight between Penny and Trisha (Penny calls Trisha “a nasty two-faced bitch” which kicks off proceedings).  Tucker has nothing to do whilst the argument between Penny and Trisha is bubbling away – but Todd Carty’s facial expressions are a delight and he goes a long way to stealing the scene.

Doyle’s victory will continue to rankle with Penny for the rest of series three, which makes it a fruitful source of conflict between the pair of them.

Elsewhere, Miss Mooney appears to be the worst possible science teacher.  She finds herself distracted by the loss of her glasses (which were on her head all the time).  Whilst she’s fretting about her glasses, there’s a small fire, which Tucker manages to put out.  He’s later berated for this – yes he did put the fire out, but he started it in the first place!  This seems a little unfair, as it was an accident, and if the pupils aren’t adequately supervised surely some of the blame should rest with the teacher.

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Five

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 22nd January 1980

This episode is the first indication that the theft of Duane’s bike wasn’t an isolated incident.  David Mitchell (Michael Mannion) proudly shows the others his new bike.  It’s not actually brand-new – it was bought second-hand from a local bike shop – but it does look as good as new.

Duane is initially impressed, although he’s perturbed when he spots a familiar looking dent.  The early evidence would indicate that the shop is receiving the stolen bikes, respraying and customising them, then selling them on.  It seems rather foolish to sell the stolen bikes in the same area (and indeed this is a point made by the shop owner in the next episode – concerned that the bikes he’s receiving are local) but if they had been sent further afield then the plot couldn’t have been wrapped up so quickly.

It turns out that Madelin Tanner is involved, helping the thieves to steal the bikes.  Although quite why they need her help isn’t clear, since all the bikes are parked in the bike shed and are ripe for the picking – even the ones with chains.

This is quite a busy episode, as apart from setting in motion the bike plot (which will be concluded in the next episode) we’re also introduced to Chris (Jonathan Warren) , the editor of the school magazine.  He’s chairing a meeting with Mr Curtis who although he’s keen to stress that the school magazine is very much the pupil’s responsibility, still wants to see everything due for publication before the magazine is sent to the printers.

Naturally this doesn’t go down very well and cries of censorship are heard.  It’s interesting that the school magazine appears to have been going for a while and was originally set up by the pupils with no staff interference or involvement.  Quite how this happened is a bit of a mystery (presumably it can be explained as one of Mr Llewellyn’s more progressive policies) but now the staff are keen to ensure that no embarrassing material makes it into the public domain.  We’ll come back to this story-line later in the series.

Lastly, Sally is taken ill during Miss Peterson’s gym class and rumours (spread by the irresponsible Anita) state that she’s dead.  It’s been threaded through the early episodes that Sally hasn’t been well, so her fall from the gym bars doesn’t come as a complete surprise.  Just prior to her accident, the soundtrack switches to an ominous heartbeat – it’s a familiar dramatic device, but even though it’s a bit of a cliche it still works well.

The question is, was Miss Peterson responsible?  We’ve already seen that she pushes the girls hard – she doesn’t accept any excuses for non-participation in games (telling them that she expects them to still join in even if they have a broken leg!).  This doesn’t please the games-shy Anita (Joanne Boakes) who mutters that she’ll tell her Gran about this (which seems to be her stock response to almost everything).

Happily, Sally turns out to be fine and we find out in the next episode that she has a weak heart which meant that an attack could have happened at any time and therefore Miss Peterson wasn’t to blame.  And now that her plot-line is concluded, Sally vanishes, never to be seen again.  Not an uncommon occurrence in Grange Hill (think of Simon Shaw from series two).

We also get our first look at Jill Harcourt (Alex Kingston) although she’s very much in the background here and won’t emerge into prominence until later in the series, when she starts menacing Susi to complete her homework.

Grange Hil. Series Three – Episode Six

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 25th January 1980

The bicycle thefts are still continuing. Pogo decides to take the law into his own hands and organises a watch on the bike sheds (inevitably he ends up getting caught by Mr Garfield). Meanwhile, the girls are pursuing a more fruitful line of enquiry – they decide to visit the bike shop on the high street to see if any of their bikes are there.

Their presence is enough to spook the shop owner (who, as we have seen, has been receiving the stolen bikes) and it eventually sets in motion the chain of events which leads to the bike thieves and Madelin Tanner getting caught.

This takes place via a lovely film sequence. Tucker and his friends, with Mr Baxter, are returning from a cross country run whilst Pogo and his classmates are also returning to the school from the opposite direction (after a field trip to the local park). Spotting Tanner and one of the thieves (although they weren’t actually in possession of a stolen bike at the time, so it’s difficult to see what actual evidence could have been used to convict them) the two groups of children converge on the hapless pair.

Tucker manhandles Madelin Tanner, whilst Mr Baxter rugby-tackes the man and realises that he’s an ex-pupil. This would be Lesley Woods’ seventh and final appearance as Madelin Tanner and apart from three uncredited appearances on the Benny Hill Show she doesn’t appear to have made any further film or television appearances.

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Seven

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 29th January 1980

A new girl, Fatima Bibi (Belgit Gill), is placed in the care of Sudhanami Patel (Sheila Chandra).  This seems to be because Fatima doesn’t speak any English and the assumption appears to be that Sudhanami will be able to communicate with her.

But it becomes clear very quickly that Sudhanami isn’t going to make any headway.  Mrs Conrad (Margaret Stallard), the teacher responsible for working with pupils who need to increase their English language skills, is quick to grasp the gulf between Fatima and Sudhanami.  Sudhanami comes from Uganda and Fatima hails from East Pakistan.  The unconscious racism on the part of the other members of staff who’d obviously assumed they’d be able to communicate is never directly commented upon, but is clear enough.

Grange Hill has, from the first episode, been a multi-cultural school, but it’s rarely something that’s been a central part of any ongoing story.  True, Benny did receive taunts about the colour of his skin in some of the early episodes, but he was also bullied because his family was poor.  This episode is therefore notable since it attempts to deal with two thorny topics at once – the problems of how those newly arrived (like Fatima) integrate into British society but also how the people already established (like Sudhanami and her family) adapt to the culture around them.

Fatima is a one-shot character and won’t be seen again after this episode.  This it’s a bit of a shame, since there would have been some mileage in showing her develop.  But Sudhanami does remain a semi-regular for a while (up until the end of series four).  She’s rarely central though, so this is really the one episode where she moves to the heart of the story.

Her father, Mr Patel (Minoo Golvala), wants to transfer her to an all girls school.  He seems to be almost a caricature of a traditional Indian father – he hates the fact that she goes to school with boys, listens to pop music, etc.  All this does rather beg the question as to why he allowed her to go to Grange Hill in the first place.

Although a strict traditionalist (he expects her to help in the shop and is reluctant to allow her to spend time with her friends outside of school hours) it’s clear that he does genuinely love her and has (or at least he believes he has) her best interests at heart.  As for Sudhanami herself, she’s somewhat submissive and is happy to follow her father’s directions.  If he decrees that she will take part in an arranged marriage sometime in the future, then that’s what will happen.

This may be an accurate, although not terribly progressive, portrait of the times – but it’s notable that as the series progresses we’ll tend to see children who will be much less prepared to toe the family line.  Instead they’ll be keen to embrace all that Western culture can offer, irrespective of what their parents may say.

Although this is a fairly serious episode, there are a few lighter moments.  Trisha and Cathy are aghast to find that Miss Mooney and Mr Sutcliffe are engaged – Cathy earlier remarked that Mr Sutcliffe “wouldn’t marry a thing like that”!  Trisha and Cathy also attempt to teach Fatima some useful phrases such as “Flippin’ ‘eck” and “Shut yer mouth”.

Tucker’s artistic flair is put to good use again when he designs a cut-out figure for the school fair.  The teachers line up to put their heads through the opening and have to suffer wet sponges being thrown at them.  It’s all for a good cause, so they can’t complain, and naturally the pupils are delighted for the chance to take their revenge – especially on Mr Baxter!

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Eight

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Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 1st February 1980

The attempt to establish a permanent Outdoor Centre picks up a little pace in this episode.  Mr Hopwood has found the perfect place (the pupils already visited there in episode three).  The owner of the property was impressed by the way the pupils helped to put out the fire during their last visit (although if he knew they were responsible for starting it in the first place he may not have been quite so understanding!)

But since he remains in ignorance, he’s happy to let the property for a nominal fee for the next year – provided the school can find the money to repair the derelict building.  This, of course, is where the problems begin.  Funds for extra-curricular activities have always been difficult to come by – and the early 1980’s was an especially cash-fraught time.  Mr Keating, deputising for the (by now always) absent Mr Llewellyn doesn’t dismiss the plan out of hand, but it’s obviously going to be a considerable struggle to bring these plans to fruition.

The main part of the episode revolves around Pogo’s money-making plan to establish his own school tuck shop (since the official one still hasn’t been approved).  This does mean turning his mother’s kitchen upside down in order to keep making all the cakes he needs in order to fulfill his orders.  When poor Mrs Patterson surveys the mess she says that whilst she was happy for him to make a few cakes she didn’t realise he’d be attempting to rival Mr Kipling!

Pogo and Duane’s free enterprise did have the tacit approval of Mr Sutcliffe, who was also a willing customer.  In fact, the original clamour for alternative food arose after Mr Sutcliffe blocked Mr Garfield from arranging the tables in the canteen for lunch.  Mr Sutcliffe was taking a drama class at the time and didn’t understand why the caretaker had to disrupt his class when it was only mid-morning.  Mr Garfield, being the inflexible man he is, was happy to walk away and do it later – though this meant delaying the start of lunch and thereby creating a whole group of willing customers for the few cakes that Pogo and his friends already had on them (which they made earlier on in their cookery class).

Sadly, Pogo’s tuck shop comes to an ignominious end after Mr Keating becomes aware of it.  He starts by giving a dressing down to Mr Sutcliffe, who he says should really have known better, but then he has some good news.  The school tuck shop will be going ahead – and Mr Sutcliffe, Pogo and Duane seem like the ideal people to help run it (they’re clearly not in a position to refuse).

And Mr Keating also has some not-so good news for Pogo and Duane – a series of detentions as well as an essay to be written by them entitled “the problems of private enterprise in an authoritarian society”!

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Nine

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Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 5th February 1980

The episode opens with Mr Sutcliffe and Miss Mooney having a rather public argument (which amuses Cathy and Trisha no end!).  Later, we see Mr Hopwood rather dismayed at the lack of interest shown by the pupils in discussing plans to set up the Outdoor Centre – only six people turn up.

But the bulk of the episode concerns itself with Penny Lewis’ crusade to expose Michael Doyle’s corruption and disinterest as a school rep.  She learns from Andrew and Justin that Doyle asked for fifty pence before raising the topic of the Outdoor Centre at the next school council meeting.  With Susi by her side she pens an incendiary article for the school magazine. Naturally, she doesn’t clear it with the teachers first, so both she and the editor have to face the music.

Doyle isn’t best pleased of course and confronts Penny and Susi – but luckily Alan and Tucker are around to see them off. Alan’s chivalrous action is another hint that he’s interested in Susi – a slow burn plot-line that will develop well into the fourth series.

It’s been stated before, and is again here, that as Doyle’s father is a local councillor (and also on the board of Governors at Grange Hill) his opinions tend to carry more weight than an ordinary parent. This is obviously unfair, but it’s something that Michael Doyle manages to use to his advantage and the teachers seem unable or unwilling to challenge this state of affairs.

The episode ends with a rather nice shot of a tearful Penny vowing to get even with Doyle. This is another plot-line that’s clearly not over yet.

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Ten

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Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 8th February 1980

There’s quite a lot going on in this episode. Penny is unhappy that she can’t contribute to the school magazine (following her article on Doyle) but perks up when she realises that Susi can contribute material they can write together.

Andrew Stanton’s parents continue to have marital problems – it’s a piece of incidental story colour that doesn’t seem to be developed at this time, but will eventually pay off in series four when it’s revealed that Andrew’s father has left (taking Karen with him).

There’s also more discussion about the proposed Outdoor Centre, but most of the running time revolves around Benny’s participation in the trials for the district football team. His hopes for selection aren’t helped by the fact that they’re being run by Mr Wainwright (Bernard Kay) who is clearly favouring his own pupils from Brookdale.

It’s always a pleasure to see Bernard Kay of course and the football sequences also paint an interesting picture of late seventies inner-city London life. Location-wise, Grange Hill would change over the years as production moved to different areas (most dramatically, of course, when it moved to Liverpool for the last few series). The match also takes up a fair few minutes and the only dialogue we have to guide us are Gary Hargreaves’ off-camera comments and criticisms.

Benny gets picked but he then has face a dilemma from Mr Baxter – does he choose to play for the district or the school?

The recent (far too early) death of Terry Sue Patt gives this episode an extra poignancy. Benny would tend to fade into the background (or not even appear at all) during series four, so this is one of the last Benny-centric episodes we’ll see.

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Eleven

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Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 12th February 1980

Fund-raising for the Outdoor Centre continues and culminates in a tug-of-war between the pupils and the staff.

But the most interesting part of the episode is the confrontation between Pogo and Karen. Pogo’s at his most obnoxious here – breaking the toast-rack that Karen made in woodwork for no other reason than he felt like it. For a character who’s later usually positioned as a positive one, it seems an incredibly mean and spiteful thing to do.

Karen gets her revenge though as she enlists the help of some older girls to steal Pogo’s trousers! No, it’s not a particularly sophisticated storyline, but it’s amusing nonetheless. Thanks to Miss Mooney’s prompting he does get them back though.

Elsewhere, Mr Baxter continues to victimise Benny because he chose to play for the district, rather than the school team. Michael Cronin’s always good value as the belligerent sports master, especially during the cross-country run which sees Tucker, Alan and Benny decide to take the bus, rather than complete the course in the usual way. You would have thought that by catching the bus they would have been amongst the first to finish, but they end up being the last, which is rather odd.  But for once they manage to outfox Bullet, which is a rare victory for them.

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Twelve

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Written by Alan Janes. Tx 15th February 1980

It’s half term and Tucker, Alan and Benny have gone to work for Alan’s father at his builders yard.  Whether this is work experience or simply a way for the three of them to earn a little extra pocket money isn’t clear, but it’ll probably not come as a great surprise to learn that things don’t quite go to plan.

The day doesn’t get off to a good start when one of the workmen trick the trio into removing a large selection of timber that had already been correctly racked up.  As the irritated Mr Humphries later tells them, they should have been putting the loose timber into order – not removing what had already been sorted.  It’s very clear that Mr Humphries is an intimidating character – even the normally ebullient Tucker is rather subdued in his presence.  When he later asks Alan how he copes with a father like that, Alan airily tells him that his mother is worse!

Another misadventure sees them larking by a van with a fire extinguisher.  When they spy Mr Humprhies approaching they find the only cover available – the back of the van.  Unfortunately for them, the van is on the way to the tip – which is miles away from the yard.  Quite why they didn’t wait until the van slowed down before jumping off is a bit of a mystery (surely three rough-and-tumble characters like Tucker, Alan and Benny could have braved a few bruises?!).

Alas, they have to walk all the way back to the yard, but the ever eloquent Tucker is able to spin an elaborate tale about how his mother was rushed into hospital with “acute something or other” but is thankfully feeling much better now.

Elsewhere, Duane along with Benny’s younger brother Michael (Mark Bishop) pops round to see Tracy.  There’s a competition in the local paper to win a minibus – if they win, says Duane, it could be donated to the school, since they need one for the proposed Outdoor Centre.  The only problem is that there’s ten tough questions to be answered, so they need to use Tracy’s encyclopedias.  Ah, those far-off pre-internet days, when answers weren’t simply available at a click of a button!

Sadly their fact-finding is brought to an abrupt end when Tracy’s mother returns home.  She’s clearly not happy to find Michael in the house and tells her daughter that he has to leave.  The conversation occurs outside the living room, but it’s loud enough for Michael to hear – and we see the camera slowly close in on his hurt face.  It presumably wouldn’t have been the first time in his young life that he’d suffered discrimination due to the colour of his skin, but this scene (understated though it is) does have something of an impact.

Although Tracy lives in a nice house and her mother appears to be a pleasant-enough person, her casual, inflexible racism would have been very common in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and it still packs quite a punch to hear such views expressed in a children’s tea-time series.

With Tracy’s encyclopaedias out-of-bounds, the trio decide to break into school and find the information they need there.  For some reason, Mr Keating is about and catches them – since they’re not prepared so say why they’re on school premises he tells them to report to him on Tuesday morning.

If Tucker, Alan and Benny’s morning didn’t quite go as planned, they do knuckle down to some work in the afternoon.  This impresses Mr Humphries and when the trio discover that one of his staff is pinching materials he’s even more impressed.  He gives them twenty five pounds as a reward (watch their faces fall though when he says, after a beat, that it’ll be donated to the Outdoor Centre!)

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Thirteen

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Written by Alan Janes. Tx 19th February 1980

Duane, Michael and Tracy have to brave an interrogation by Mr Keating.  His first appearance in this episode is a memorable one – we hear him clear his throat in a very ominous way – making it clear that he’s not in a very good mood!  All three children give him a different reason for their presence in school at half term (Tracy’s is the correct one) but it’s obvious he’s unsure which of them to believe, so he tells them he’ll see them all later.

Having learnt that Mr Humphries might have some materials to donate to the Outdoor Centre, Mr Hopwood pays him a visit.  He spies a very serviceable van, which Mr Humphries was considering selling, and manages to grab it at a very decent price.  It’s instructive to watch the artful way Mr Hopwood is able to strike a bargain by playing on Mr Humphries’ good nature (but since it’s all in a good cause that’s fair enough).  It’s also amusing to hear Mr Humphries ask for cash, rather than a cheque, since a cheque would have to go through the books (thereby adhering to the cliche that all small businesses like to fiddle their tax!)

Susi finds herself persecuted by Jill Harcourt (Alex Kingston) who pressurises her to complete her homework.  Jill’s not the first school bully we’ve seen in the series, but it’s not until Gripper’s reign of terror in series five and six that we actually see a bully who carries out a concerted series of attacks over a sustained period.  Like Jackie Heron in series one, Jill Harcourt’s villainy is rather negated by the fact it’s so brief (she’s vanquished in the very next episode).

As for Duane, Michael and Tracy, Mr Keating eventually discovered that Tracy was the one telling the truth – but although they submitted multiple competition entries (and all the answers were correct) they didn’t win the minibus since their entries reached the paper the day after the competition closed.  But the paper was interested enough to interview them, although the resulting article is a great disappointment since it didn’t even mention their names.

Susi continues to feel the pressure from Jill, but she doesn’t have to suffer for very long as Alan’s spotted what’s been happening and is prepared to give her extra Judo lessons so she can defend herself against Jill’s bullying.

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Fourteen

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Written by Alan Janes. Tx 22nd February 1980

The third years take a trip to work on the Outdoor Centre. Tucker inadvertently puts the girls’ tents up over an ants nest, Alan and Susi continue to work on their Judo, whilst Cathy puts her foot through a rotten floorboard in the upstairs part of the building and has to be taken to hospital.

The realisation that the floorboards are rotten causes concern. How much will it cost to repair them? As might be expected, money is tight and it looks as if the plans for the Outdoor Centre will have to be abandoned. Eventually a rescue plan is worked out later in the series (they decide to share Brookdale’s Outdoor Centre instead) but since it’s never seen again it’s a plotline that doesn’t go anywhere. A pity, since the odd trip to the Outdoor Centre could have been used to break up the (naturally) school-dominated run of episodes.

This is Alex Kingston’s final appearance as school-bully Jill Harcourt. Once Susi uses some of the Judo moves on her that Alan taught her, she’s no longer a threat and limps away.

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Fifteen

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Written by Alan Janes. Tx 26th February 1980

I don’t know what the mortality rate of Grange Hill is, compared to other schools in the UK, but I’d guess it’s a great deal higher. Deaths, of course, are a staple in any soap opera – they help to create interest, ratings and spark debate.

The deaths in Grange Hill are sometimes, but not always, designed with a specific point in mind – they can be morality tales with a clear message. In this case we’re told that dares can be dangerous and potentially fatal.

A craze of dares is sweeping the school and at the same time there are running fights between Grange Hill and Brookdale pupils. Since these often take place at the local shopping centre, it’s placed out of bounds (and teachers are sent on patrol there).

Naturally, many of the kids, including Tucker and Alan, happily ignore this order and they’re lucky not to be caught by Mr Baxter. But tragedy strikes when Antoni Karamanopolis (Vivian Mann) is dared by Billy Phillips (Tony London) to walk along the rooftop of the shopping precinct – he falls and is killed instantly.

Antoni was a typical supporting Grange Hill character. He appeared in a handful of episodes during series two and three, sometimes just in the background but occasionally with a few (usually not vital) lines. He was clearly the ideal person to be sacrificed – someone who would be familiar to the audience, but not one of the central characters.

Of course, this does lessen the impact of his death (imagine if it had been, say, Benny) and apart from one casual mention in a later episode he doesn’t appear to be greatly missed – there’s certainly no attempt to plant a tree in his memory, ala Danny Kendall.

Mr Baxter’s pursuit of the children through the shopping centre does provide us with an awkward moment as he follows them into the toilets and proceeds to try and look under the toilet doors. He becomes aware that he’s being observed (by a traffic warden) and tries to shrug it off by telling him that he’s looking for some boys. It’s played as a comedy moment, but it’s hard to imagine something similar being done today!

Grange Hill. Series Three – Episode Sixteen

grange hill s03e16

Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 29th February 1980

The series-long plotline of Penny verses Doyle is concluded here. After being berated by Miss Peterson for his poor performances as the third year rep, Doyle vows to get even with Penny (who he assumes has once more been telling tales about him).

He steals her project (which she has spent a considerable time on) and throws it away with the rubbish collected by the cleaners. But eventually his sins find him out, he loses his position as rep and he, and his friends, are forced to sort through the piles of rubbish to retrieve as much of Penny’s project as they can find.

Apart from an unexpected one-off appearance in series five, this would be Ruth Davis’ last episode as Penny Lewis. It’s something that happens time and again in Grange Hill, as pupils vanish for extended periods or sometimes forever (usually because real-life pressures, such as exams, intervene). Penny is replaced in series four by Pamela Cartwright, an almost identical character (bossy, a frequent contributor to the school magazine, etc). It’s tempting to think that the scripts for series four were originally written for Penny and they simply crossed her name out and wrote Pamela’s instead.

The final scene of Doyle and co leafing through the rubbish is an amusing, if low-key, ending to the series. Clearly the thought of concluding a series with a hook to lead into the next run of episodes wasn’t something that was considered at this time.