Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Eighteen

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Written by Barry Purchese.  Tx 2nd March 2016

It’s the end of term and a disco has been organised, but the news that the music’s going to be provided by Glenroy strikes fear into the hearts of many.  Glenroy likes very heavy reggae – so with his impressive sound system (Sir Lord Glenroy indeed!) the evening promises to be loud if nothing else.

Pogo’s also on hand with a selection of discs, but will Glenroy allow him the use of his equipment?  Poor Mr McGuffy draws the short straw and scuttles off to speak to him.  Unsurprisingly he doesn’t pluck up the courage but Suzanne turns up later and is more successful.

Elsewhere, Claire’s in a very stroppy mood and the hapless Stewpot is in the firing line.  He can’t seem to do anything right – not even buttering a piece of bread – which seems to be another hint that their on/off/on relationship might be heading for more stormy waters.  Check back next series for some surprising revelations …..

Jimmy McClaren, resplendent in a white suit, seems to be back on the side of the angels again – he’s concerned that Gluxo’s planning something.  A fight maybe?  Or simply absconding with the door money?  Jimmy’s not sure but he elects to stay on watch, much to Nigel’s chagrin.  What’ll happen to all the talent?  Jimmy replies that there’s never any shortage of talent when Jimmy McClaren’s about.  There’s a chance to see his lady-killing skills in action later when he asks Precious if she’d like quick spin around the dancefloor.  She says “no” which rather deflates him (but he’s later reinflated when she changes her mind!)

This is the final episode for quite a few of the regulars.  Most of the class of 80/81 depart (only Claire, Stewpot and Precious return for the next series).  On the teaching side, Mr Keating, Mr McGuffy, Miss Gordon and Mr Howard all make their final appearances.  I’ll miss Mr Keating and Mr McGuffy, although Miss Gordon and Mr Howard haven’t really been around long enough to make too much of an impression.  It’s not impossible to believe that Miss Gordon was intended to return though, as Miss Booth (introduced in the first episode of series eight) isn’t a terribly dissimilar character.

Incidentally, the series-long gag of Mr Howard’s (and to a lesser extent, Mr Smart’s) pursuit of the fragrant art teacher concludes as she declines both of their kind offers to dance and chooses Mr Knowles as a partner instead!  So both Mr Smart and Mr Howard decide to head off for a drink.  Mr Knowles is another teacher who disappears (Chris Jury would be heading off to become Lovejoy’s sidekick).

If Mr Howard’s unlucky in love, then Zammo’s a little more fortunate and is relived to find that Jackie still loves him.  She’s also on hand to break the news that the boys helping behind the bar come from Brookdale and not (as they claimed) Rodney Bennett.  Ah ha, this obviously means they’re up to no good.  Gluxo pops up to taunt Zammo about Jeremy’s death and Jimmy’s on hand to express his displeasure at such a low remark and is also able to exact a suitable revenge (which reveals where the missing bar money ended up).

With Pogo on the decks we get a snapshot of mid eighties pop (Duran Duran, New Order, Thompson Twins) ending up with Spandau Ballet’s True –  a chance for everybody to get just a little closer.  The most delightfully awkward moment comes when Mr McGuffy (no doubt out of a sense of politeness) asks Mrs McClusky if she’d like to dance, just as the record changes to True.  The look on both their faces makes it clear that they’d sooner be anywhere else but dancing together, but the pair bite the bullet and hold each other close (but not too close).

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Seventeen

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Written by Jane Hollowood. Tx 28th February 1984

It’s exam time and Stewpot’s feeling the pressure ….

His mood isn’t helped by Pogo cheerily telling him that he should have sat CSE’s rather than O Levels – as Pogo’s exams are nearly over.  Stewpot also doesn’t seem terribly interested to learn that Pogo’s got the chance of a job (as a double-glazing salesman, a perfect occupation for him!)

The classroom used for the exam is a cheerless place – shabby and joyless – no doubt this doesn’t help to improve the general tension that everybody’s feeling.  Over the next few years GH will undergo something of a transformation, most notably in the style and look of the school (the pending merger with Brookdale and Rodney Bennett has, in part, come about in order to explain why the school will look so different in the years to come).  One side-effect of the changes is the way that the crumbling Victorian nature of the school to date is replaced with a much more modern environment.  This is a shame in some ways, as the inner-city bleakness of the earlier years rather fades away.

Stewpot snaps out of his catatonic state once the exam starts but not in a positive way.  He has something of a breakdown and has to be lead out.  Prior to this, the silence in the room – as the others start writing – is used effectively to ramp up the tension as he stares at the paper blankly.  Mrs McClusky is on hand to give him a pep talk which sends him back.  She’s not prepared to put up with any nonsense from him.  “Don’t be such a stupid little fool. Stop being weak and pull yourself together.”  Fighting talk!  It’s just what he needs of course, and he’s able to go back and complete the paper.

Mrs McClusky later briefly mentions that exams put the children under a great deal of pressure, but there’s no debate as to whether this pressure is too great or if there’s anything that can be done to help the more vunerable pupils.  The message seems to be that you just have to get on with it the best you can.

Miss Gordon continues her quest to secure a nude model for the art club, whilst Mrs McClusky continues to be far from convinced it’s a good idea.  It would certainly liven up proceedings as we see them sketching a number of twigs, not terribly exciting!

Suzanne returns.  She’s looking very different (seemingly having modelled her appearance on Boy George) and outwardly is happy with her life outside Grange Hill.  But her inability to get a job depresses her (which ties in neatly to the exam theme of the episode).  Mr McGuffy offers to help, but Suzane isn’t convinced that exam passes are the answer.  “O Levels, A Levels, that’s all you teachers think about isn’t it? Look, what is the point? There are no jobs.”  This is an argument that’s been played out several times before, but Suzanne’s eventual grudging acknowledgment that he’s right leads him to suggest she attends sixth form college.

Suzanne meets up with Claire and the others, but this only serves to make her feel more isolated.  The others don’t ignore her deliberately, but their banter highlights that she’s no longer a member of the school community and therefore isn’t able to join in.  She’s got what she’s always wanted – Suzanne has long desired to leave Grange Hill – but now it’s happened the girl is a little lost and scared.

Her final conforontation with Mrs McClusky is an oft-repeated moment.  The headmistress is appaled by the sight of the bizarrely attired girl.  But Suzanne is able to have the final world by telling Mrs McClusky that since she no longer attends Grange Hill she can wear what she likes.  She then proceeds to sashay down the corridor, hips swinging impressively.

Mrs McClusky agrees that the art club can have a nude model.  Pogo, on hearing the news, can barely contain his excitement (he’s practically frothing at the mouth) and immediately signs up to join the club.  The eventual revelation that the model is a wrinkled old man rather than an attractive young woman is a nice (if obvious) gag.

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Sixteen

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Written by Jane Hollowood. Tx 24th February 1984

N3, Mr Baxter, Mr Knowles, Claire and Stewpot have headed out into the country for an orienteering weekend.  Jane Hollowood’s script develops a theme first seen in the previous years trip to Wales, namely that Mr Baxter struggles when he’s out of his comfort zone.

That he’s not terribly familiar with orienteering is made clear right from the first scene – the whole class head off in one direction, whilst he goes the opposite way!  He’s called back by Mr Knowles (with the children’s jeers ringing in his ears) who points out that he was holding his compass upside down.

Mr Knowles has organised a competition – teams of two people set off through the forest using their newly found orienteering knowledge to locate a series of checkpoints – and the wheel of fortune means that Mr Baxter and Roland have to pair up.

This is a genius move (again, the abrasive relationship between the pair was touched upon during the Wales trip).  It’s plain that Mr Baxter’s opinion of the desperately unathletic Roland has never been high, but from the moment they set out there’s a subtle change in their personal dynamic.  Mr Baxter, for all his surface bravado, is out of his depth, which means that it’s Roland who’s able work out the correct route they have to take.  For once the boy gets the chance to act in a positive manner.

But when Mandy and Sarah decide to hide one of the checkpoint markers it means that the mismatched pair of Mr Baxter and Roland find themselves hopelessly lost.  The teacher then sprains his ankle, which leaves them stranded in the forest, cold and hungry (and with night fast approaching).  This then leads into one of the key moments of the episode.

ROLAND: Everything I do is a disaster.
MR BAXTER: Rubbish. Listen, this was my fault not yours.
ROLAND: What about my mum walking out though? That wasn’t your fault.

There’s a world of pain from Roland in this short exchange.  Despite his visits to the school psychologist during series five, we’ve never really seen him express his fears, hopes or emotions before.  No doubt this is due to his friendless nature (true, Janet’s always been a more than willing listener, but Roland’s opinion about her has been made crystal clear on many occasions!)

Although Roland’s never been the most popular member of the class, the others (even Annette) are concerned about him.  Annette promises that if he comes back safely she’ll never tease him again (she then glances upwards, which suggests she’s said a quick prayer for his safe return – a very uncharacteristic thing for her to have done).

After the pair are finally rescued, Mr Baxter is packed off to hospital with a suspected broken ankle whilst Roland returns back to base.  He’s treated like a returning hero by the others, which is lovely to see (although I’ve always been a little perplexed as to how they managed to create such an impressive “welcome back Roly” banner in double quick time!)

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Fifteen

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Written by John Godber. Tx 21st February 1984

When Annette turns up to school with a new bike, it worries Fay and Julie.  Remembering the tale of the camera, they wonder if this is further evidence of Mrs Firman’s mistreatment of her daughter.  Mind you, Annette doesn’t have the bike for long as Jimmy, Nigel and Roland see it as a nice little earner ….

Although Annette’s fate is the topic of this episode, she’s actually fairly peripheral to proceedings, whilst those concerned about her (Fay and Julie and Miss Gordon and Mrs Wilkins) are much more central.  Whilst Annette’s brand new bike suggests that Mrs Firman has been hitting her daughter again (and this is her way of apologising) there’s no actual evidence that this is so.

That’s not really important though, it simply serves as the catalyst to give Fay and Julie the final push they need to speak out.  It’s quite noteworthy that Julie tells Fay that when her mother hits her she doesn’t have any bruises.  Fay agrees with this, which suggests that she too has received physical chastisement from her parents (providing us with a window into a world where such things are commonplace).

They tell Miss Gordon, who along with Mrs Wilkins (Angela Galbraith) later visits Mrs Firman (Dorothy White).  Mrs Wilkins is introduced as coming from Grange Hill, although her precise role is unclear.  She’s a good listener though, as demonstrated when she patiently allows Mrs Firman to tell her tale.

Although Mrs Firman has lavished presents on her daughter (Nigel believes she lives in a big house) it’s a little hard to see how she manages it, especially after it’s revealed that her husband has left her after sixteen years of marriage.  She actuallyvlives in a modest house with nondescript fixtures and fittings (and is quite shabbily dressed).  At one point she tells them that she doesn’t want any sympathy.  Mrs Wilkins responds that they don’t intend to offer her any, but Annette could do with some.  After Mrs Firman expresses remorse it closes the chapter on this story.  This feels a little pat to be honest, but there’s always the possibility that it isn’t a definite ending.

Jimmy’s more Gripper-like in this episode.  Pinching Annette’s bike is rather out of character (remember, he started series seven as a businessman, keen to provide his customers with services) but it does bring Roland’s story-arc to a close.  Having seen Roland move from victim to bully, he now has to face the consequences of his actions after the police catch up with him and his two partners-in-crime.  Roland will remain a regular until the end of the 1987 series, but he’ll rarely feature as a central character again.

Annette and Fay have a brief, but memorable, fight.  It helps to clear the air and it means they’ll be able to pick up their friendship after this brief hiccup.

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Fourteen

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Written by Frances Galleymore. Tx 17th February 1984

Diane’s stories about her imaginary boyfriend become more and more elaborate. But Julie seems to smell a rat ….

This episode gives us our one chance to take a look at Diane’s homelife.  Her mother, Gloria (Linda Marlowe), couldn’t be more different to her daughter.  She’s brassy, confident and seemingly not very interested Diane at all.  No surprise then that Diane prefers the safe haven of her bedroom (which, of course, has a big poster of Duran Duran on the wall) and the romantic certainty of teen magazines.

Mr McGuffy’s drama classes seem to be the inspiration behind her endless tales of Mark (he drives a car, works in a record shop, uses aftershave, looks a little like Shakin’ Stevens, etc, etc).  Do we interpret this as a cry for help, or is she secretly delighting in fooling everyone?  Diane’s usually portrayed as a victim (or at least a fairly passive character) so there’s evidence that she relishes stringing everybody along.

This includes her mother, who finds Diane’s stash of secret love letters.   This faintly echoes the storyline of Claire and her secret diary, but it’s plain that Diane intended her mother to find the letters just so she could create a scene.  Gloria has always complained that her daughter never seems to do anything or go anywhere, so it’s more than a little ironic that when she discovers Diane apparently has a boyfriend she’s dead against it.  Diane is then able to taunt her progressive mother most effectively.

If Diane’s managed to fool Fay and Janet, with Annette not really bothered either way, then Julie is the one who seems not to believe a word of it.  But she never comes out and calls Diane a liar to her face (Julie, unlike Annette, is rarely mean or spiteful) and doesn’t press matters after Diane tearfully brings the affair to a close (imaginary Mark is forced to leave town for somewhere up North).

The merger is steaming ahead, with Mrs McClusky keen to take charge.  I like that she calls Claire and Stewpot to her office and passes over paperwork for them to give to their parents, Mrs Scott and Mr Stewart (both of whom are prominent members of the PTA).  Some might see this as underhand, but there’s no doubt that Mrs McClusky is a skilled political animal ….

Miss Gordon is keen to bring a nude life model to the school.  Mrs McClusky reacts in shock (a lovely moment) as does Mr Keating later on (another fine comic scene).  We’ll have to wait a few episodes for the punchline, but it’ll be worth it.

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Thirteen

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Written by John Godber. Tx 14th February 1984

Annette proudly displays her new Polaroid camera to the class.  She seems to have an indulgent mother who spoils her rotten – but this surface happiness hides darker secrets …..

The first of five GH episodes penned by John Godber, it provides answers to questions which were posed earlier in the series.  Annette’s mother suffers from depression and hits her daughter, so we can assume that the lavish presents are her way of saying sorry.  Knowing this explains a great deal about Annette’s behaviour (her willingness to taunt others, for example) but it also poses troubling questions.  She’s been this way since we first met her in the first year – has she really been abused all this time?

Everything comes to light after Julie jealously steals her camera.  She only meant it as a joke (this gives me nasty flashbacks to the sagas of Belinda’s clarinet and Fay’s hockey stick) but Annette doesn’t see the funny side.  They have a brief fight but Annette pulls away, clearly in pain.  This wasn’t Julie’s fault though – Annette has bruises on her arms, caused by her mother.

Earlier, the games mistress Miss Hartley also spotted the bruises and gently questioned her.  Annette insisted she fell and Miss Hartley, somewhat reluctantly, seemed to believe her.  We’ve seen this in the series before, where a teacher is aware that a pupil may be suffering abuse but decides not to act.  It’s no doubt an accurate reflection of real life, but it still feels disturbing.  Fay and Julie attempt to cheer Annette up, but there’s a sense that this story isn’t over yet.

Elsewhere, Roland’s smartened himself up – much to the delight of Janet (Simone Nylander).  She launches one of her trademark monologues as she fires question after question at the uncomprehending and uninterested Row-land.  It’s a nice moment of comic relief.

As is Roland’s transformation into a school bully.  After being bullied himself by Gripper, Roland’s now become a fully fledged member of Jimmy’s gang.  Jimmy, Nigel and Roland form an intimidating trio – Jimmy does most of the talking, Roland chips in with the odd word, whilst Nigel says nothing (although he sneers very effectively!)

Mrs McClusky, Mr Smart and Mr McGuffy discuss the merger, which now seems to be going ahead.  Mr Smart isn’t in favour, he declares it would be better if they went back to smaller schools which would give teachers a chance to spend more time with the pupils.  Mr McGuffy doesn’t see the logic in this, although there seems to be something in Mr Smart’s argument.  It’s interesting that Zammo’s mother, Mrs McGuire (Jenny Twigge) also expresses a desire to see the merger stopped.  Although she leans politically to the left (and no doubt Mr Smart leans very much to the right) they both seem to have come to the same conclusion.  Maybe for different reasons ….

Given that he’d just become Artistic Director of the Hull Truck Theatre in 1984, it’s no surprise that John Godber only penned a handful of scripts for GH.  His other episode for series seven concludes the storyline developed here and is just as dramatically satisfying.  His later work for the series is a little more light-hearted though (it includes the memorable affair of Mr Bronson’s stolen wig!).


Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Twelve

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Written by Barry Purchese. Tx 10th February 1984

Suzanne walks out of Grange Hill again, but this time it looks like she’s gone for good.  On her way out she encounters Mr McGuffy and Mr Smart.  Both want her to stay – although they speak to her in very different ways, as per their diametrically opposed characters.  Mr McGuffy is patient and understanding whilst Mr Smart is abrupt and hectoring.

Neither tactic works, although it’s Mr Smart who feels the most affronted.  He storms over to Mrs McClusky’s office to demand she does something, but the headmistress doesn’t share his anger.  Gwyneth Powell’s been a little underused this year, but she’s very cutting in this brief scene.

Although Suzanne’s left the school, she’ll return to the series in episodes seventeen and eighteen.  But this episode does see the final appearance of Mark Baxter as Duane Orpington.   Given the length of time he’d spent in the series it’s slightly surprising that he just seems to fade away.  One minute he’s there and the next he’s gone, with nobody appearing to notice (although I seem to recall that illness might have been the reason why Baxter didn’t appear in the rest of series seven).

Zammo eventually hands over Gluxo’s note to Jimmy.  Jimmy’s up for a scrap – provided it’s done with a sense of style – but Zammo’s not keen.  Jackie has forbidden him to get involved in any fighting, which leads to a simmering feeling of tension between him and Kevin.  Zammo doesn’t want to be thought of as a coward, but neither does he want to lose Jackie.  It’s a bit of a dilemma.

There’s the second mention of Diane’s boyfriend – and this time he’s got a name, Mark.  At the moment this doesn’t go any further, but it’s another seed planted which will come to fruition later in the series.

Roland’s chaotic home life is finally explained, as Janet (annoyingly helpful and inquisitive as ever) pops around and is told by Mr Browning that Roland’s mother has left home.  One parent families are such a fact of life now (and would also be in later series of Grange Hill) that it seems rather remarkable that this is one of the first instances in the series when it’s been explicitly stated that someone is missing a parent.

The big fight is an anti-climax, but on the plus side it means that Zammo doesn’t have to break his promise to Jackie.  Gluxo locks the Grange Hill boys into the warehouse where the fight was supposed to take place and calls the police.  That’s a somewhat uncharacteristic thing for Gluxo to have done, but GH couldn’t really have been seen to condone gang fighting, so this ending (even if it feels like a bit of a cop-out) does make sense.

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Eleven

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Written by Jane Hollowood. Tx 7th February 1984

It’s the day of the sponsored walk.  Jackie decides to join Zammo, which causes him a little anxiety.  What will his friends say?  Unsurprisingly there’s a number of whistles and assorted comments, but they manage to get through unscathed.

Roland’s still fretting about the amount of money he’s going to lose if Kilvert comes in first.  Jimmy’s no help, telling Roland that he (Jimmy) supplies the brains of the operation whilst Roland supplies the money.  But Jimmy and Nigel do their best to nobble Kilvert with one of the evergreen classics.

It’s the old “move the arrow so it points in the opposite direction” ploy, so beloved of the series, especially at the start of a new school year (when it can be guaranteed to catch a few unsuspecting first years out).  But Kilvert ignores the arrow pointing in the wrong direction and carries on remorselessly the right way.  It seems that nothing can stop him.

Jimmy decides to pinch a bike, since he’s tired of walking.  The one he chooses – a butcher’s bike complete with meat – belongs to Gripper.  It’s nice to see Mark Savage again, even if his screentime is very brief.  After popping up at the start to shout “oi, that’s my bike!” at the absconding Jimmy, you’d have expected him to make a few appearances throughout the episode.  But he doesn’t reappear until just before the end, where he’s less than pleased with Jimmy’s antics.  There’s a nod to Gripper’s long-established lack of learning as he fails to spell meat correctly.   “And what about the meat, eh? M e e t.  Meat”.  It’s ironic that Gripper’s probably lost his job thanks to Jimmy.  If he was attempting to go straight, it looks as if Grange Hill might have indirectly forced him back into a life of crime.

Stewpot’s desperate to get Claire alone so he can talk to her, and he asks Pogo to chat to Christine.  There’s no sign of Suzanne or Precious (or indeed Duane) so it looks as if this all-film episode saved a little money by pairing down some of the regulars.  There would have been no need for the others to be there, as Claire and Stewpot only needed one other person to talk to, and Christine and Pogo serve that function admirably.

The on/off/on/off drama of Stewpot and Claire looks to be off again, although she considers his offer to join him on an orienteering weekend (along with Mr Baxter, Mr Knowles and a bunch of third years).  Does she agree?  You’ll have to wait until episode sixteen to find out ….

What’s quite nice is that Claire tells Stewpot that she can’t talk to him as she’s walking with Fay.  This partly might have been because Claire simply didn’t want to spend any time in his company, but there’s also the sense that she’s concerned about the younger girl.  Although their discussion happens off-screen, it seems to put an end to the rumours and innuendo about Fay’s crush on Miss Gordon.

Pogo drops out of the sponsored walk as he’s spotted an old girlfriend, Lucinda.  Played by Letitia Dean (credited as Titia Dean) it’s a nice little cameo.  Lucinda likes her food that’s for sure, but after Pogo treats her to a snack in the café he’s crestfallen to find out that she’s got a new boyfriend.  Poor Pogo.

Kilvert doesn’t win, Wu (Eliot Wong) does.  Jane Hollowood seems to have chosen this name so that when people ask who won the race, they can use the “Wu” – “Who?” gag (which they do several times).

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Ten

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Written by Barry Purchese.  Tx 3rd February 1984

Although Mr Smart started series seven by pledging to be more approachable, he doesn’t seem to have made much progress.  Mr Howard and Miss Gordon look on as Mr Smart frog-marches Zammo and an older boy into the corridor.  He caught them fighting and it was Zammo who threw the first punch.

Mr Smart, with his usual tactic of bellow first and ask questions later (if at all), isn’t prepared to listen to what Zammo has to say.  Lee Macdonald does a good job of showing Zammo’s distress – the boy is visibly panting and unable to articulate clearly.  The reason for the fight – the older boy made a joke about Jeremy – stops the teacher in his tracks and as Miss Gordon takes charge of Zammo, Mr Howard attempts to smooth things over with Mr Smart.

Mr Smart is aware that yet again he’s made something of a hash of things.  But Mr Howard is exactly the wrong person to try and gently point this out – since he’s everything that Mr Smart isn’t.  Mr Howard is calm, friendly and approachable, which is why so many pupils – including members of Mr Smart’s form – prefer to come to him with their problems, which irritates Mr Smart no end.

Off-screen, Roland’s money-lending business has become a part of McClaren Enterprises.  This makes sense – Jimmy and Nigel are just the type of people who delight in collecting debts – and Jimmy sees a further chance to make a little money.  The upcoming sponsored walk might not be a race, but he still intends to run a book on who’s going to win.  Kilvert (Howard Selfe) is the red-hot favourite and Roland collects plenty of bets.  Unfortunately Kilvert isn’t interested in a cut of the proceeds if he promises not to finish first.  Which leaves both Roland and Jimmy with a problem …

Rumblings that Grange Hill might merge with Rodney Bennett and Brookdale are heard, but the key part of the episode concerns the innuendo directed at Fay.  What was implicit in earlier episodes is now very explicit, as Mandy, Sarah and Annette all delight in mocking the girl.  Envy might play a part – Fay is an all-rounder, good at most sports – but plain nastiness seems to be the main reason.  Mandy goes the furthest – suggesting that Fay isn’t interested in boys and likes to hang around the changing rooms in order to watch the other girls (she also mentions that she wouldn’t hang about in the showers with her).  Fay’s infatuation with Miss Howard is mentioned again, but there’s never been any evidence – it just appears that the others have put two and two together to make five.  It’s very disconcerting to see Annette, who’s supposedly Fay’s best friend, take part in this bullying, with only Julie prepared to fight Fay’s corner.

Zammo and Jackie run into Gluxo again.  It’s hard to take Gluxo  seriously because he’s such a cartoon villain, but for once he doesn’t attempt to cause Zammo any harm.  Instead, he gives him a letter for Jimmy McClaren.  An invitation for Grange Hill and Brookdale to meet and settle their differences in the old fashioned way – a big punch-up!

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Nine

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Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 31st January 1984

Two members of the Tasmanian delegation (Claire and Suzanne) are taken out to lunch by two representatives of the Russian delegation.  Claire and Guy (Jamie Wilson) enjoy very cordial relations, which includes a quick snog.  Alas, ever bolshy Suzanne isn’t as easily impressed – the two boys might be sophisticated and know their way around an Indian restaurant menu, but that cuts no ice with her.  They stand for everything she despises – rich and privileged people who’ve never had to fight for anything.

At the same time, Stewpot continues his pursuit of Trudy.  She agrees (a little half-heartedly) to accompany him to evening dance.  Pogo seems to think she’s going with him, but they’re both going to be disappointed.

Trudy and Guy used to be an item and they pick this moment to get back together again.  It’s a remarkable coincidence that Stewpot and Claire were the jilted couple – out of all the people Trudy and Guy could have chosen to hook up with, they pick Stewpot and Claire.  This disappointment throws them back together, so it looks as if their on-off relationship is now back on.  It’ll continue into series eight, where Stewpot two-times her with the most unexpected girl.  Even after all these years I can’t believe it, but we’ll leave that for another time.

If the others are letting their hormones do the talking, then Glenroy remains totally committed to the debates.  Unfortunately, his aggressive manner doesn’t meet with the approval of the debate moderator and he decides to go home.  This seems to be another jab suggesting that UN is a fairly toothless organisation – Glenroy is told to be polite and moderate his tone (just like the real UN) but he counters that people in the poorer parts of the world are suffering now.  Action, not words are required.  Mr McGuffy attempts to pour oil on troubled waters, but to no avail.  However, Glenroy is persuaded to stay.

John Eastlake (Robert Kenley) has been an insufferable presence for the last two episodes.  He’s another rich kid, but unlike most of them – who are portrayed in a reasonable light – Eastlake is prejudiced and narrow-minded.  He receives his come-uppance from the others (which includes his own school-friends) and this ensures that the balance is restored.  If only they could do that at the real UN …..

There possibly wasn’t enough material to stretch across two episodes (a compressed single episode might have been better) but there were several highlights – David Bellamy’s impassioned address last time and Steven Woodcock’s incendiary turn in this one.  And Gina Bellman in both episodes was an unexpected surprise (I’d quite forgotten she’d appeared in GH).

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Eight

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Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 27th January 1984

Suzanne, Claire, Glenroy,  Pogo, Stewpot and Mr McGuffy have headed off into the country for the UN Weekend.  It’s taking place in palatial surroundings – which comes as a little bit of a culture shock for the North London kids.  Claire, who has to speak in the debate, is fretting that she’ll come off second best, as some of the other children come from privileged private schools and probably are used to this sort of thing.  Claire isn’t, which heightens her anxiety.

Glenroy is still smarting from the fact that somebody else nabbed Ethiopia (they had to plump for Tasmania) whilst Suzanne, Pogo and Stewpot don’t seem to have the UN at the top of their personal agendas.  Suzanne, despite her earlier protests, clearly wants to spend time with Glenroy whilst Pogo and Stewpot are happy to hang out with any attractive girl they can find.

Trudy (Gina Bellman) immediately catches their attention and they both make a beeline for her.  There then follows several excruciating scenes as Trudy, polite but clearly not terribly interested, has to suffer their separate charm offensives.  This was only Bellman’s second television credit (an episode of Into the Labrynth two years earlier was her first).

Excruciating also covers the scene where one of the more privileged public school boys makes conversation with two black girls.  He asks them where they come from – Hackney, they say.  After a few more questions he seems stunned to realise that they’re actually British (that his school is representing the UK is a clear irony).  Presumably his part of the country has no black people whatsoever ….

If Stewpot and Pogo seem to be making little progress with Trudy, then Suzanne’s equally frustrated as Glenroy seems happier to spend his time talking politics with others than spending time with her.  But although all this toing and froing takes up most of the episode, towards the end we do start to concentrate on the reason why everybody’s here.

David Bellamy is in the chair for the debate on world hunger and his opening address is a memorable one.  The plight of Ethiopia would be thrust onto British television screens later in the year, so it was obviously a topic that was high on many people’s agendas.

Bellamy tells them that chronic hunger “saps your energy and lowers your resistance to disease. That means you can’t work properly. Because you see the sort of work that the hungry people of the world have to do is physical work. And there are four hundred million people in the world today whose food intake is below that which would be needed for normal bodily maintenance … the money required to provide adequate food, water, education, health, housing and above all family planning has been estimated at seventeen billion dollars a year. That’s an enormous amount of money, about as much as the world spends on armaments every two weeks.”


Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Seven

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Written by Frances Galleymore. Tx 24th January 1984

Following Jeremy’s death there’s an episode of reflection.  This is more than we had after Antoni Karamanopolis plummeted to his death from the shopping centre roof – his fate was discussed in a very offhand manner in the subsequent episode.

It’s Jeremy’s unpopularity which is uppermost in the minds of N3 as it causes several of them to wonder if they were somehow to blame for his death. Diane, because of the prank he played on her in the science lab whilst Fay is upset because he died after diving into the pool to retrieve her necklace (true, he was the one who had thrown it in in the first place, but grief and logic don’t always go hand in hand).

Zammo, Kevin and Annette have yet to turn up and it’s interesting that Fay declares she’s never going to talk to Annette again. It’s true that if Annette hadn’t caused Miss Hartley to leave the pool then the tragedy might not have happened, but this is just another example of the children’s attempts understand a situation that was outside of their control.

Janet, sensible as ever, declares that talking about it can only help, whilst Miss Gordon – who had been listening outside the classroom – agrees. She tells them it was nobody’s fault, Jeremy had s weak heart and he simply stayed under the water too long.

Wild rumours are sweeping the school though (lurid tales that he committed suicide) whilst Mrs McClusky comments that there are (unseen) reporters outside the school gates. From Grange Hill’s point of view the upcoming enquiry will be a formality – had they known Jeremy had a heart problem then he would never have been in the pool in the first place, but no blame seems to be attached to the teaching staff.

If the lesson had been supervised than at the very least Jeremy would have been extracted from the pool a lot quicker. Would this have saved his life? Impossible to say, but it’s slightly remarkable that Mrs McClusky doesn’t seem to draw this conclusion from the sad events.

Mr Baxter feels responsible and tenders his resignation, which Mrs McClusky refuses. Good playing from Michael Cronin during this episode. It’s also a nice moment when Fay and the others try to raise his spirits. As Julie said earlier, they all have to stick together in times like these.

Zammo wasn’t present to hear Miss Gordon tell the class that no-one was to blame. He’s at home with a stomach-ache and no doubt thoughts and regrets whilst Annette seems to be totally unaffected. She breezes into class as if nothing’s happened, a sharp contrast to the subdued attitudes of the others.

But Annette’s brave face is nothing more than an act and she later breaks down. It’s another nicely played moment in a reflective episode that ranks as one of the strongest of series seven. It often seems to be the way in soaps that whilst the deaths of characters are dramatic high-points, it’s the aftermath that really allows the actors to shine.

And to lighten the mood a little we learn that Precious isn’t very good at cutting hair ….

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Six

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Written by Barry Purchese. Tx 20th January 1984

Annette has received a letter inviting her to take part of the finals of the fashion contest she entered a few weeks back, but neither Miss Gordon or Mr Howard will allow her to take time off school.  This doesn’t bother her as she bunks off anyway.  Jeremy returns from suspension, as mischievous as ever.  The others give him the cold shoulder but he continues to act up during their swimming lesson, where tragedy strikes ….

Ms Firmin is her usual charming self, unable to hide her glee that she’s the only one from the school chosen for the finals.  Mandy sums her up succulently with a single word (“cow”).  It’s a mild form of abuse, but it still a slightly jolting moment.

The third years have a biology lesson where they witness a rat being dissected.  If this had occured a decade later there probably would have been a debate as to whether it should have happened at all.  But here, the teacher just gets on with it and those who want to stay do and those that don’t are free to sit in the other room.  There’s no suggestion that they don’t stay out of a sense of animal rights, simply that they felt a little squeamish.  This scene might be a little jarring for modern viewers, but it’s an accurate picture of school life back in the 1980’s.  Back then, animals were used in lessons and I personally don’t recall any objections being raised.

Jeremy can’t resist hiding Diane’s schoolbag in the same cupboard as the dissected rat, which has inevitable consequences.  It’s yet another idiotic action which further estranges him from the rest of the class and drives Mr Howard to despair.

For those keeping track of Mr Howard’s pursuit of Miss Gordon, this episode he bumps into her (literally) which seems to please him no end.  He’s certainly gained some ground on Mr Smart who hasn’t made a move for a few episodes …..

Annette’s dreams of stardom come to nothing when she realises that there’s hundreds of girls in the queue ahead of her (and they taunt her by pointing out that she’s the only one in school uniform).   She returns to school, downhearted, and refuses to get changed for swimming.  This initially seems to be just another case of her stroppiness, but then we see her roll up her jumper to look at her arm.  Together with the comments from previous episodes it’s another moment that suggests all isn’t well.  It’s also an example of how the series was now much more confident to develop plot-threads over an extended number of episodes, no doubt happy that the audience would be tuning in week after week and also that they’d be paying close attention.  Back in series two or three this would have probably been dealt with much sooner.

When I rewatched series six for this blog, I noticed that Mr Baxter mostly tended to show up on film.  And again the same thing seems to be happening here – this is the first time we’ve seen him during series seven and all his scenes here are on film.  Did Michael Cronin have other commitments which meant his time was limited, meaning many of his scenes had to be pre-filmed?

It’s rather nice to see Dennis Blanch as Mr Devereaux and he helps to serve as a reminder that I really should dig out Strangers to rewatch soon.  He’s in the one swimming pool, teaching the beginners, whilst Miss Hartley (Angela Newmarch) takes the main class in the other pool.  This isn’t the first time that pupils have been left unattended by the pool (series one, episode four) but this has fatal results.  Miss Hartley decides to go back into the changing room to speak to Annette, who’s still refusing to come out of the cubicle, although her visit proves rather fruitless.  As with the series one episode, it beggars belief that a whole class would be left to their own devices so close to water.  And the fact that nobody seems to be to blame is something we’ll discuss a little more next time.

The moment when Zammo surfaces to shout that Jeremy’s in trouble is a chilling one.  And the last few minutes, as Devereaux and Baxter frantically try to resuscitate the boy whilst the rest of the class looks on, is another striking image.  As Devereaux tells Baxter that it’s hopeless – the boy’s lungs must have filled with water immediately – the picture freeze frames.

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Five

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Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 17th January 1984

Although it’s been a while since we’ve seen Mrs Scott, Claire’s mother, she’s still the same fusspot that she’s always been.  And despite the fact that Claire’s now in the fifth form she still talks to her like she’s in the first year.  Nits are the problem – Claire’s had them and Mrs Scott is convinced she must have caught them from Suzanne.  Another example of the long-standing disdain that Mrs Scott has always held for Claire’s common (in her eyes) friend.

Jimmy’s upset that he hasn’t received the promised six hundred pounds from Pogo’s chain letter and forcibly makes his point.  This shows us Jimmy’s more menacing side, but events later in the episode prove that he’s far removed from the thuggish Gripper.  Mrs McClusky corners Mr Howard on the stairwell (a piece of the set that’s been seen so many time during the last few years that it’s almost become an old friend) and demands he finds out who’s responsible for the letters.

Mr Howard agrees, but is distracted by the passing Miss Gordon.  He walks a few paces to watch her retreating back with a wistful look on his face, whilst Mrs McClusky is still trying to gain his attention!  That’s the only reference to his pursuit of her in this episode, but it’s a nice dialogue-free throwaway moment nonetheless.

Mr McGuffy is attempting to recruit five pupils to go with him on a weekend trip organised by the UN.  Each school will pick a country and they’ll have a mock debate.  There’s a high level of cynicism on display – Suzanne likens the UN to the school council (with the one as effective as the other) whilst Glenroy tells the others that the UN exists to keep the poorer countries in their place.  Suzanne isn’t keen on going, but when she learns that Glenroy is, she perks up ….

Precious can’t go because she’s got a Saturday job at a hairdressers.  We’ll come back to this, with disastrous consequences for Christine’s hair, in a later episode.  There’s also the first mention of Anita’s gran for quite a while.  During series three she could hardly go a couple of sentences without mentioning her, but that hasn’t been the case recently.

This episode sees the last appearance of Allyson Rees as Miss Lexington, which makes me rather sad.  We learn that her first name is Jenny (a fact I don’t believe has been divulged before).  She and Mr Gordon are on hand to collar Pogo as he desperately tries to harness the power of the computer to salvage something from the chain letter fiasco.  Mr Howard suggests they ask their maths teacher why a market can never expand indefinitely.

There’s a lot of disappointed out-of-pocket kids after the chain letter scheme is wound up.  Jimmy extracts all the money held by Pogo and is quite happy to see it redistributed amongst those who lost out.  This makes it obvious that while he can be menacing, he also doesn’t always act in his own self-interest.  He gained nothing out of this (apart from being able to taunt Pogo) but perhaps we can put it down to another example of his canny business sense.  After all, all those people that have gained something might be potential customers in the future ….

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Four

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Written by David Angus. Tx 13th January 1984

The opening scene gives us our first look at Jimmy McClaren (Gary Love) and his ever-present sidekick Nigel Flavin (Gary Hailes).  Although Jimmy has somewhat stepped into the void left by Gripper, he also bears more than a little resemblance to Pogo.

Jimmy’s a fixer – he’s happy to relive others of their money, but he likes to provide a service in return (unlike Gripper, who just liked the money).  Here, we see him plot to get someone onto the school football team (with the wheeze of stealing another boy’s boots) whilst Nigel later receives a payment after agreeing to arrange that a boy has his pick of the desks (he doesn’t like his current place and no-one else will move).

This transaction is overheard by Mr Keating and it provides us with the spectacle of Robert Hartley ear-wigging in the background as he desperately tries to hear what’s being said.  This will be Hartley’s final series as Mr Keating and I’m going to miss his firm (and usually fair) methods.

Gary Hailes would be another actor who’d make a seamless transfer from Grange Hill to EastEnders.  Gary Love would later become a regular in Soldier Soldier as well as maintaining a parallel career as a director.  Although neither continue in Grange Hill after 1984, they both manage to liven up the few episodes they do appear in.

Although Jeremy’s absent – suspended – following his bus-pass forgery, he continues to cast a shadow over Zammo.  Kevin doesn’t believe that Jeremy would ever get one of them into serious trouble, but Zammo isn’t so sure.

Annette dreams of stardom and decides to enter a fashion competition.  Her self-delusion is made plain after she boasts that she’ll have professional pictures taken, only to later be seen emerging from a photo booth, glammed up to the nines.   This storyline will pay off in a couple of episodes time.

After appearing in a one-off episode last year, Chris Jury’s Mr Knowles has now become a regular.  I’m not sure whether it was a performance choice or simply a stumble, but at one point Mr Knowles seems to forget Annette’s name for a second and then almost pronounces “historical” as “hysterical”.  An actor’s fumble maybe, but it’s also very in character for someone who’s no longer the helpless teacher we’ve previously seen, but isn’t yet totally in command of the class.

And there’s an outbreak of nits.  Eek!

An anonymous phone call to Mrs McClusky spells trouble for Zammo.  Nigel was passing at the time and is able to give Zammo a heads up – much to the despair of Jimmy, as he’s given away information for free!  Zammo believes that Gluxo was behind it, and recruits his friends for a showdown.  Unfortunately they start to drift away one by one after they fail to find him.  So that by the time the Brookdale boy does make an appearance, only Zammo and Kevin are left.

How Gluxo learnt that Zammo’s bus-pass was used by Jeremy is a mystery, which makes it much more likely that the anyonomous call was made by Jeremy (or someone on his behalf).  This ties back to Kevin’s comment earlier in the episode and although Jeremy wouldn’t have benefitted from grassing Zammo up, it seems like just the sort of thing he’d do.  So why didn’t Zammo consider the possibility?

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Three

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Written by David Angus. Tx 10th January 1984

There’s something in Jeremy’s nature which means he can’t help being deceitful.  Even if it doesn’t gain him anything, he still delights in misdirection and falsehoods.  Because of this it’s a pity he didn’t stay in the series a little longer, as there would have been considerable mileage for this sort of insidious character.

At the start of this episode he tells Zammo that there’s no point in waiting for Jackie – she’s left without him (in a car, with a strange young man).  It’s all a complete tissue of lies as we see Jackie failing to catch up with them and then later stropping in the Brookdale playground because she can’t understand why Zammo didn’t wait for her.  Why do it?  Zammo was bound to find out the truth eventually, but even when he does Jeremy won’t admit that he lied – merely that he must have been mistaken.  He has all the makings of a first class politician.

Annette continues to flout the school rules by wearing make-up, but this goes unnoticed since (on doctor’s orders) she’s able to wear sunglasses indoors.  This seems rather futile – why bother to wear make-up if no-one can see it?! – but there you go.  Her man-eating tendencies are commented upon, as Julie mentions she fancies anything in trousers.  Annette responds that it’s better than fancying someone in a skirt.  She quickly backtracks and mentions a Scotsman, but the inference is that Fay’s keen interest in Miss Gordon has not gone unnoticed by her.  Unsurprisingly this would be a topic that Grange Hill would skirt around very delicately – although as series seven develops, the chatter that Fay has a crush on her form teacher begins to intensify.

But then Miss Gordon clearly has a certain something, as both Mr Smart and Mr Howard are both still valiantly attempting to broach her defences.  First, Mr Howard offers her a lift as he’s going her way (she innocently asks him which way is that?).  Alas, Mrs McClusky steps in and asks him to cover Mr Keating’s detention which leaves him very downcast.  Mr Smart finds it hard to hide his jubiliation though!  Mr Smart pops round to the art room later, but he finds himself no further forward as she politely declines his offer of a lift as she already has one.  This leaves Mr Smart perplexed, does this mean there’s another rival for her affections?

Roland’s still looking scruffy, although his transformation from victim to bully (well sort of) begins here.  He starts a money-lending business, with interest charged on late repayments and there seems to be no end of people willing to take him up on it.  When he later joins forces with Jimmy McClaren (still to make an appearance) his change of sides is even more pronounced.

Jeremy gets nabbed by the bus inspector, who was never going to fall for his fake pass.  Why didn’t he just pretend he didn’t have the fare?  He would have got slung off the bus, but that would  have been better than waving a forged pass about.

Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode Two

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Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 10th January 1984

Although Mr Smart is aware that he needs to unbend a little and show a more human side to H5, old habits die hard.  When Claire, clutching a biorhythm calculator, asks him for his date of birth (in order to work out his physical, mental and emotional states) he tells her not to be impertinent.  His date of birth is clearly information that he doesn’t wish to share.

But as if to demonstrate his inflexibility, later Miss Gordon and Mr Howard (Michael Osborne) are both happy to let the girls know their dates of birth.  This scene, whilst demonstrating how friendly and approachable they both are, also signifies the start of Mr Howard’s campaign to woo Miss Gordon.  It’s obvious to Claire and the others that he popped into her class on the merest pretext – he basically just wanted a little quality time with her.

They all approve – in their eyes Miss Gordon and Mr Howard would make an ideal couple and they don’t consider the age difference (some four years) to be a problem!  Prior to this, I can’t think of many instances where the private life of a teacher was considered an acceptable story topic (apart from the trials and tribulations of Mr Sutcliffe and Miss Mooney) so this seems to mark a subtle change in the series’ format as from now on the teachers will tend to become more rounded characters.  Mr Howard is another person who has apparently been at Grange Hill for years, but always out of shot.  Michael Osborne makes Mr Howard relaxed and friendly – clearly a teacher who’s a favourite amongst the pupils.

But he has a rival in love, as Mr Smart is also interested in the fragrant new art teacher.  It must be said that he’s rather forward – placing his arm on her shoulder as he steers her down the corridor.  Mr Smart also approaches her under a flimsy pretext (in his case, advice about sets for the school play) and at present it’s far too early to say which (if either) is going to get the nod from her.  Indeed, this is a story that’s going to run and run …..

After being a key figure during series six, Randir is much more low profile this year (this episode is probably his most substantial contribution).  He offers to sell Pogo one of his chain letters – for a mere five pence.  Pogo spies a money-making opportunity and buys all of them so he can start his own chain (this naturally ticks off Randir).

The nature of chain letters, how they work (or don’t) and exactly how you can apparently make a fortune is discussed in some detail.  With a fair bit of mathematical discussion, this is probably one of Grange Hill‘s most educational episodes.

Although there are warnings that chain letters always fail, for the moment Pogo seems to be in the money.  But Claire warns him that Jimmy McClaren will want his cut – the first mention of the unseen (as yet) successor to Gripper.  Following Gripper was always going to be difficult, so it was probably quite wise that they chose to make Jimmy McClaren a very different character.


Grange Hill. Series Seven – Episode One

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Written by Barry Purchese. Tx 3rd January 1984

The opening episode of series seven begins with Zammo rushing to meet someone.  So far, so familiar (it brings to mind a similar scene from the start of series six) but when we learn that he’s not meeting Jonah, it’s the first of several instances which demonstrate that change is in the air.

Jackie Wright (Melissa Wilks) is Zammo’s new (first?) girlfriend and together they set off for her school, Brookdale.  Although they hold hands on the way, Jackie complains that it’s like holding hands with a plank!  Is this because he’s ashamed to be holding hands with a girl or because he has to drop her off at Brookdale?  They part at the school gates and exchange a peck on the cheek, to the intense annoyance of Gluxo Remmington (David Rippey).

Gluxo presumably goes to Brookdale (although it’s more likely that his attendance record is slim to non-existent).   Maybe he spends his time roaming the streets, duffing people up?  He’s certainly keen to hand out a beating to Zammo, but the younger boy manages to escape (following an entertaining chase where joggers and children in the park are just some of obstacles to be overcome).  WW2 reference number one – as Zammo rides to freedom on a handy bus he raises his arm to Gluxo in an ironic Nazi salute.

There are major changes with the teaching staff, as both Mr Hopwood and Miss Mooney have left.  Mr Smart is assigned to be H5’s form tutor and there’s a very revealing scene where he confesses to Mrs McClusky that his performance the previous year was, in many ways, an “act”.  But in order to connect with H5 and function effectively as their form tutor he realises that he needs to show them a little more of his real personality – which isn’t something he finds easy.  This moment is the start of the humanizing of Mr Smart which will develop more fully in series eight where he’s, at times, a totally different character from the abrasive martinet of series six.

Miss Gordon (Kara Wilson) is N3’s new form tutor.  She makes a very strong first impression on both Fay and Annette, albeit for different reasons.  Fay does her best to be friendly and welcoming (with Annette characteristically remarking that she’s a bootlicker!).  No surprise that Annette is neither friendly or welcoming, not only to Miss Gordon but to everyone else as well.  Annette’s first appearance – plastered in make-up – is a startling one and Fay’s comment to Julie that she was rather odd during the holidays is the first hint that something may be wrong with Ms Firman.

Other plot-threads are started (why does Roland have so much money and why is he so scruffy?) but there’s no need for them to be answered in this episode.  It’s simply a mystery that can be tucked away for later.

One of my pet hates is when a new character is introduced and everyone reacts as if he/she has been there for years and we’ve simply never seen them on screen before.  Kevin Baylon (Mmoloki Chrystie) is a classic case in point.  With the absence of Jonah it’s easy to believe that he was created to fill this gap, but that wasn’t the case at all.

Jonah was to have appeared in the first few episodes, before meeting a watery end in the school swimming pool.  Either the actor, his parents or his agent didn’t fancy this, so the character of Jeremy Irvine was drafted in to take his place.  In a way it’s a pity that Jonah didn’t feature, as certain parts of the plot – Zammo and Jackie’s relationship, for example – would have had more resonance if Jonah had been the one on the outside, slightly irritated that his best-friend Zammo was spending all his time with a girl.

Within a short space of time Jeremy manages to annoy virtually all of his new class-mates and he ends the episode proudly displaying the forged bus-pass he made in art class.  I wonder how this will end for him ….

It’s interesting that Jeremy’s parents decide to transfer him to Grange Hill because they’ve heard rumours that Rodney Bennett (Jeremy’s old school) and Brookdale are due to merge. Series eight would see a three-school merger (with GH too, of course) so I wonder if this was an early foreshadowing of that. More likely it was just a throwaway line that someone later realised had plenty of dramatic potential.

WW2 reference number two – as H5 wait for the arrival of Mr Smart, Stewpot does his best impression of him (if he was played by Adolf Hitler that is).  It’s a little hard to imagine a modern children’s serial peppered with references to the Second World War, if only for the fact that many of the audience might not understand the references.