Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Seven

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Written by Frances Galleymore.  Tx 28th September 1986

Julia contnues to moon over Ant whilst Georgina continues to avoid Imelda.

Mr Bronson’s not a happy chappy (the overcrowded staff room is just one of many irritations). Some of the non-speaking extras are also dischuffed – banging down empty coffee containers in a petulant manner – but Mr Bronson is the one who voices the discontent many feel.

A solution to their problems has been found – portacabins.  But when they don’t turn up on time Mr Bronson isn’t terribly pleased (to put it mildly).  That he chooses Mr Baxter to be the recipient of his anger is understandable since he’s not foolish enough to tackle Mrs McClusky head on – so the pair once again lock horns in an entertaining fashion. As ever, Mr Bronson favours the direct approach, bluntly accusing Mr Baxter of using his position as deputy head to ensure that the sports department gets the best of everything whilst the rest of the staff suffer.

You don’t need to be a mind reader to work out that he’s entirely wrong (Mr Baxter has funded extra-curricular activities, like the swimming team, out of his own pocket). This is another clear sign of Mr Bronson’s character defects – if you’re going to accuse a colleague of misconduct it’s best to have clear evidence. Alas, he never seems to learn this basic rule.

Danny is the recipient of some decent dialogue which goes a little way to explaining exactly what makes him tick. Enjoying a smoke in the chemistry lab, he’s unabashed when discovered by Julia and Laura and goes on to explain his worldview. “That’s what it’s all about in an institution, breaking down independence, everyone joins in doing it”. Imelda, like Gripper before her, is the more obvious example of an uncontrollable pupil but Danny’s a little different as he flies under the radar most of the time. That he’s vocal about keeping his identity and not letting the system crush him might suggest that a close family member has recently seen the inside of a prison.

That old chestnut – two teachers squabbling over who should be in a certain classroom – gets another airing here. Mr Bronson is in possession and is disinclined to give it up in favour of Mr King. Mr Bronson crows about his victory somewhat after a passing Mrs McClusky suggests that Mr King could use part of the canteen, but his celebration is shortlived after Mrs McClusky (in her deceptively sweet way) makes it plain that maturity and tact are key to solving problems like this. Ouch!

Georgina is worried that she’ll be a target for Imelda, but Ant – continuing to play the alpha male – tells her not to worry, he’s got her back.  Bless!  If you haven’t guessed what happens next then you’ve possibly not been paying attention – Ant’s nemesis Mr Bronson once again appears at the most inopportune moment to harangue the boy – leaving Ant frustrated and Georgina forced to join forces with Imelda once more ….

Given that Mr Bronson is still smarting from the oblique rebuke he’s just received from Mrs McClusky, the arrival of Ant – seven minutes late – isn’t going to improve his temper one little bit. Ant has his familiar excuse (Mr Baxter) which serves as the trigger to send Mr B into meltdown. Michael Sheard hits the heights here (imagine this dialogue delivered by Sheard at full-throttle). “Aaaaaah, Mr Baxter! That explains everything. Every time you are late it is Mr Baxter’s fault. Why?”

Further delights are to be found after Mr Bronson tells Ant that they will settle this with Mr Baxter once and for all immediately after school. Ant, who has arranged to meet Georgina, tells him he’s not free. Sheard once again comes up trumps. “Not free? Change your social diary”. Wonderful stuff.

Ant is discovered to have been a little economical with the truth (Mr Baxter might have been the reason why he missed registration, but he still could have made Mr Bronson’s lesson on time) which means that the boy faces a double-pronged attack from both teachers who temporarily forget their own differences to turn on him.

Mr Kennedy’s letter writing lessons continue. Ziggy tells him that he plans to write to the Duke of Edinburgh. Remember this, it’ll become important later ….

Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Eight

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Written by Frances Galleymore.  Tx 31st January 1986

The mark of a decent bully is how effective they are at extorting money from others.  Gripper was, of course, a past master at this – but so far Imelda has lagged behind somewhat.  So this episode gives her the chance to catch up as she decides that a piece of Gonch’s toast business would be very welcome.

Gonch is having none of this though, which makes him – and more especially his trousers – a target for Imelda and the others.  Have I mentioned that Imelda’s gang is nicknamed the Terrahawks?  That’s one up on Gripper who never had a name for his gang.

There’s possibly an article to be written about the number of times boys are relieved of their trousers in Grange Hill (although this isn’t the time or place you may be thankful to learn).  Imelda only wanted the money in Gonch’s pockets, so why she couldn’t have just reached in his pockets is a slight mystery.

No matter though as it’s an opportunity to show the usually self-reliant Gonch under pressure.  He can stand up to most people – the way he bats off the approach of Trevor and Vince (also keen to get a slice – sorry – of the toast action) is a treat – but Imelda’s a special case.

Ziggy’s also engaging in his own battles with Imelda.  Unfortunately Mr Griffiths is in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes collateral damage (a bucket of paint on the head).  Mr Griffiths blames the innocent Ziggy for this, so there’s plenty of fist shaking and chases around the school as Frances Galleymore takes the opportunity to ramp up the comedy.  Ziggy and Robbie’s attempt to breach the girl’s changing room – all in the course of justice, naturally – is another entertaining scene. It’s also notable as the first real time they join forces – from now on the pair will pretty much be inseparable.

Prior to Imelda’s involvement, Gonch and Hollo’s toast business had been thriving although they had to deal with the odd consumer complaint (“There’s an earwig in my butter!”) Gonch attempts to pour oil on troubled waters by telling Jane that it was only a small one.

Georgina and Helen share another quiet scene. Georgina’s desire to break away from Imelda’s influence becomes ever more apparent whilst Helen continues to tread a fine line between the pair of them. Another oft-stated theme is repeated here – Georgina is keen to settle down and pass her exams, a statement which Helen reacts to incredulously. What’s the point in working when there won’t be any jobs for them after they leave school?

Mr Bronson’s cruel streak is very much in evidence.  A recent letter-writing initiative saw Roland write to Fabienne and – after he’s perused it – Mr Bronson asks the boy to read the letter out in class.  It’s somewhat personal in nature and the fact that Mr Bronson knew this but still asked Roland to proceed is a telling moment.

This is a rare visit to N5’s class. It’s not commented upon, but Zammo is very conspicuous by his absence ….

Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Nine

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Written by Sarah Daniels.  Tx 4th February 1986

The overcrowding becomes chronic as Mr Kennedy is forced to conduct a drama lesson with G3 on the stairs. Most enter into the spirit of things although Laura isn’t pleased about the way having to squat on the stairs is dirtying her uniform whilst Danny just isn’t pleased. He makes it plain that he’d sooner be anywhere else but here – pretending to be a passenger aboard a spacecraft just isn’t his forte.

Ziggy and Robbie’s plan to gain revenge on Imelda continues.  They conjur up a noxious, sticky brew and are all set to deliver the killer blow.  I wonder what happens next?  Oh yes, Mr Griffiths just happens once again to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up being the unwilling recipient of their hard work.  There’s an undeniable predictability about this, but a touch of knockabout farce is always welcome plus it helps to balance out the more serious themes elsewhere.

A fair amount of this episode takes place outside the school grounds. Therefore we’re presented with ample local colour as Ant and Georgina walk past the canal (with towerblocks in the distance) and elsewhere Jackie stalks Zammo down the local high street. The early series of GH had a strong inner-city feel, which has tended to fade away more recently, so these scenes help to reconnect the characters to their environment.

Mrs Reagan is convinced that all is not well with Louise’s family and asks Laura and Julia to investigate. Laura’s initially reluctant to act as a spy, but soon enters into the spirit of things.

But it’s Zammo and his problems which are dominating.  This episode gives Doug (Paul Vincent) his first dialogue – a few episodes back Jackie had spotted him and Zammo in the distance.  Just by looking at him we can tell that Doug’s bad news – and if any further evidence was needed, the way that he and Zammo rifle through Mrs McGuire’s belongings, looking for anything decent they can sell, should confirm our suspicions.

Doug finds slim pickings, but a cut glass decanter makes his eyes light up (Barry Manilow records less so). The flat scene was recorded on location rather than in the studio which means that like the previous location scenes it helps to firmly ground this episode in mid eighties London.

Mrs McGuire makes the first of her handful of series nine appearances next time.  It’s slightly odd that she’s been held back until this point as you’d have assumed there would have been a certain amount of dramatic mileage to be gained from her interactions with Zammo.  Maybe the intention was not to foreground precisely what Zammo’s problem was too soon, but it does feel slightly odd.

Zammo’s increasing isolation from his friends and family makes sense, but it’s notable that – Jackie apart – we’ve not seen anybody express concern about him.  Apart from the dramatic possibilities missed, this maybe sends out the wrong message – friends and family should be the ones primed to spot danger signs and then attempt to help. Maybe the message here is that had Zammo’s friends been more active the situation wouldn’t have spiraled out of control.

This was the first GH episode written by Sarah Daniels.  Daniels (b. 1957) came to prominence as a playwright in the early 1980’s and by the time that decade was over had penned a series of challenging plays, all of which had a strong feminist streak.  Critic Carole Woddis once called her “the only radical lesbian feminist to have made it into the mainstream”.

The same year that she debuted on Grange Hill, her play Neaptide was running at the National Theatre.  Neaptide has recently been performed again at the National as a rehearsed reading (it launched the National’s short Queer Theatre season).  It’s interesting to ponder whether the school setting of the play informed any of her work on GH.

Grange Hill wouldn’t seem at first glance to be the obvious television programme for her, but clearly she found working on the series to be stimulating, since she would go on to write sixty six episodes between 1986 and 2007.  This impressive unbroken run, stretching from series nine to series thirty (although for some reason she didn’t return for the series’ thirty first and final series), is easily her most substantial television contribution (elsewhere she penned a handful of episodes for EastEnders and Medics).

Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Ten

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Written by Sarah Daniels. Tx 7th February 1986

The temporary classrooms finally arrive – this spells trouble for Mr Bronson’s car which, if he doesn’t move it, is likely to be turned into a pile of scrap metal.  Mr Baxter is understandably not terribly concerned (believing that it would probably be worth more to him as scrap!) but eventually deigns to send the ever-helpful Janet up to the staffroom to warn him.

There’s obvious comic potential in the sight of Mr Bronson running to the aid of his car, which is heightened when it’s revealed that the crane driver is – wait for it – a woman (played by Holly De Jong).  Calley and Ronnie, watching from an upstairs window, debate the merits of female crane drivers (Ronnie wonders how on earth a woman could have possibility got such a job).  The reactions from the older male teachers are equally as nonplussed.  Mr Baxter blurts out “you’re a woman” to her.  She replies that yes she is, and wonders if he teaches biology!

Mr Griffiths’ hero worship of Mrs McClusky is always a joy to behold.  Here, she tells him that it’ll be some time before they can go back to the old school, so the temporary classrooms will be around for a while.  He’s not delighted at the news (“oh my god”) but the look of pleasure and pride on his face when she tells him that he’s the first person she’s told about this – ahead of all the staff – is worth the price of admission alone.  Puffing out his chest and standing straight like a soldier, he assures her that his staff will give the school their 100% co-operation.  If only everybody could be as easily manipulated as Mr Griffiths …..

Ziggy and Robbie continue their never-ending quest to gain revenge on Imelda.  This week it’s water balloons.  I don’t really need to tell you that this ends in total catastrophe for them, do I?  In other news, Robbie’s had a haircut.  Not the most thrilling nugget of information I know, but when watching the series back-to-back things like this stand out.

Speaking of Ziggy, he’s had a reply back from the Duke of Edinburgh.  Since he’s absent, Gonch asks if he can pop round to his flat to deliver the letter.  That sounds remarkably helpful, so you probably won’t be shocked to learn that Gonch plans to substitute the rather bland and non-committal reply with something much more creative – which will lead Ziggy to believe that the Duke will shortly be visiting Grange Hill and will be pleased to receive as many chalk ends from Ziggy as can be collected.

Will Ziggy fall for such an obvious falsehood?  Course he will!  To further their devilish plans, Gonch and Hollo visit a local newsagents to run off some blank headed paper with the Duke of Edinburgh’s crest, which will enable them to write their own letter.  The shop is a lovely time capsule of the period – complete with mouth-watering jars of sweets behind the counter (although they were surely an anachronism even back then) – and a friendly shopkeeper (played by the very recognisable Brenda Cowling) happy to help the two lads (she believes they’re working on the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme).

A slight sliver of reality is introduced when they bluff her that the Duke is interested in the travails of inner-city life.  She sympathizes with this and tells them that running a shop in an area like this is no joke, due to the amount of shoplifting that goes on.   It wouldn’t have been a surprise to see them take advantage of such a kindly woman and indeed Hollo does stuff some chocolate bars into his pocket when she isn’t looking, but Gonch (“how would you like it if she was your Nan?”) makes him put them back.  He has his standards then.

There’s a lovely visual gag as the pair exit the shop and run back to school.  They pass a church which displays an ominous sign (be sure your sin will find you out).  And since the sign handily tells us that it’s Leavesden Road Baptist Church, a quick skim through Google Maps will find the same location today.  When I’ve got the time it might be interesting to try and pinpoint some of the other GH locations from this era.

Zammo’s devious plan to convince his mother that he hasn’t sold her decanter (instead he broke it in an accident) is played out here.  Part one requires pinching a glass beaker from a lab assistant (played by Tom Keller).  Whilst we know that Zammo isn’t the most together of people these days, this is odd.  For one thing, the smashed beaker wouldn’t resemble in any way the smashed decanter and for another, it’s difficult to see how dropping the decanter a couple of feet would have caused it to break (surely for something that sturdily built it would have to have fallen from a great height).

It’s therefore more than a little interesting that Mrs McGuire seems to swallow this unbelievable story so readily.  True, she does wonder where the stopper is (Zammo, thinking quickly, tells her that he’s sold it) but otherwise Zammo’s plan seems to have worked.  Or has it?  There’s several different ways this scene can be interpreted – either Mrs McGuire does believe her son’s story or she can’t yet bring herself to confront his lies and evasions.

The disappearance of her bike (presumably stolen and sold by Zammo like everything else) is another of those moments where it’s left dangling as to whether she believes his protests of innocence or not.  What’s noticeable about this scene is that Zammo seems more together and lies more fluently than he recently has been able to do to Jackie (he also looks his mother in the eye, something he hasn’t been able to do with Jackie).  There are several possibilities to explain this – either he feels more guilty when he lies to Jackie or he’s recently been drugged up and is therefore temporarily back in control.  Nothing’s ever explicitly stated, so the viewer is left to draw their own conclusions.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Eleven

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Written by John Godber. Tx 11th February 1986

Ziggy and Robbie are diligently collecting every scrap of chalk they can find, convinced that a grateful Duke of Edinburgh will be delighted with their efforts.  I love the way that most of the teachers – Mr King, Mr Kennedy – also swallow this story hook, line and sinker but suspicious old Mr Baxter proves much harder to convince.  It’s a small character beat, but it demonsrates that Mr Baxter has been round the block several times and doesn’t take anything on trust.

Calley’s school fanzine (or the school magazine as it now seems to be) has Mrs McClusky’s blessing, although she obviously wants some form of editorial control to be wielded by the staff.   This isn’t the sort of news that Calley, Ronnie, Laura, Fay and Julie want to hear, but Mrs McClusky – skilled politician that she is – seems to have gotten her way.  These days Mrs McClusky seems to be a more relaxed individual than the control freak of the early 1980’s, although possibly she’s just the same – it’s just that the ratio between velvet glove and iron fist has changed.  So whilst she may appear to be more conciliatory there’s still the same drive to ensure that she always gets her own way.

A little time seems to have passed since the recording of the previous episode (maybe there was a mid-season break?) as several pupils, notably Helen are now sporting new hairstyles.  But whilst Helen might look slightly different, she’s still Imelda’s yes-woman (Georgina remains Imelda’s maybe-woman).  Imelda’s latest wheeze is demanding money with maximum menaces – twenty pence from every first year and once they’ve paid up the edge of their timetable is clipped (confirming that they’ve paid).

This seems like a sensible plan, although there’s a few obvious flaws, not least the fact that some resourceful first-years clip their own timetables, thereby fooling the older girls.  This lack of forward planning, as well as Imelda’s own recklessness, spells the end for her as her scheme is rumbled and she’s suspended.  This gives the others a temporary respite, but she’ll be back …..

She did take a little catching though, as Mr Baxter and Mr Griffiths found out.  Still, once Mr Griffiths had a firm hold of her, Mr Baxter’s anger was enough to quieten her down.  This is another good episode for Michael Cronin – as we also see Mr Baxter share a few nice scenes with Ant and display disbelief that the Duke of Edinburgh would ever consider visiting a place like Grange Hill.

Georgina is distraught. Now that Imelda’s been caught she knows she will be next to face the wrath of Mrs McClusky.  What will her parents say?  Ant attempts to console her (this involves holding her close) but one again the fates are against him as Mr Bronson happens to walk by.  “In case you have forgotten, this is a school Mr Jones, not a harem!”

The viewer hardly has time to draw breath from this beautifully delivered line from Michael Sheard before the action ramps up several notches.  Mr Bronson pulls Ant from the bench where he and Georgina are sitting and eyeballs him – Ant then roughly pushes him away, causing Mr Bronson to fall over (naturally, his first action when he hits the ground is to check that his wig is still in place!)

What’s fascinating about this moment is that Ant claims that he never touched him when it’s plainly obvious that he shoved the teacher quite violently.  Ant may like to play the victim but the facts don’t always equate with this (as has been seen before).  Mr Bronson’s not best pleased as you might expect.  “You’ve done it now, Jones.  Assault, that’s what this is. Assault”.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Mrs McClusky’s faithful, but non-speaking secretary, Janet. She has one of her finest moments here as Mr Bronson frog-marches Ant and Georgina into Mrs Clusky’s office and stammers that Ant assaulted him.  Although it’s when he divulges that Ant and Georgina were kissing that Janet pulls a wonderful face.  Lovely stuff!

Ant is given an ultimatum.  If he apologies to Mr Bronson then the matter will be considered closed.  But the headstrong Ant can’t bring himself to do so ……

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Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Twelve

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Written by Barry Purchese. Tx 14th February 1986

It’s a filthy wet day outside, which possibly might explain why Grange Hill is graced with Danny’s presence for the whole day.  That’s not to say he keeps out of trouble though – an early skirmish with Mrs Reagan means that he’s sent to Mr Baxter’s office.

This is an episode which really examines what makes Danny tick.  His self-contained nature and reluctance to engage have been seen before – although it’s now suggested that he’s tried the patience of just about every teacher in the school.  Danny just wants to be left alone, which is obviously never going to happen.  He might be an (unwilling) member of the school but doesn’t accept that any of the school rules should apply to him.

We’ve not really seen him encounter Mr Bronson before.  In the future Mr Bronson and Danny will share some dramatic storylines, but here the teacher is almost genial (or as genial as Mr Bronson ever gets).  Knowing that Danny is likely to stray if left unattended, Mr Bronson takes charge of him and escorts him to Mr Baxter’s office (“you have a tendency to veer off course, don’t you Kendall? Like a defective supermarket trolley”).

Mr Baxter’s heart to heart with the boy is again played out against the backdrop of rain lashing against the windows.  This helps to create a sense of claustrophobia as the teacher then leaves Danny alone to ponder his future, although Danny believes he hasn’t got one – at Grange Hill at least – since he’s already been marked down as a troublemaker.  Although there still might be hope for others.

Given that he’s rarely interacted with either his fellow pupils or the teachers on a friendly basis, it’s slightly surprising that he speaks to Laura on behalf of Georgina (Georgina wants Laura to have a word with her mother about Ant’s feud with Mr Bronson).  True, Danny doesn’t say anything when Georgina asks him, but he does do it – even though he later tells Ant that he should apologise to Mr Bronson.  He doesn’t have to mean it, he only has to say the words …..

One of the problems with creating a character like Danny, who appeared out of nowhere during series nine as a third year, is that his previous school life is a complete blank.   There’s the first hint that he might just have an interest in a school activity – he speaks to Miss Booth about the competition to create a new school logo – but this suggests that he’s spent several years displaying no artistic talent whatsoever.  Given that he later seems to live in the art room, this is a little hard to believe.

Nominations for the staff/pupil editorial committee are made.  Laura is desperate to be elected (and is) whilst Gonch (unwillingly) as well as Calley and Fay (willingly) are also voted on.  Fay then suggests they have a male member of staff to compliment Miss Booth and Miss Partridge.  She suggests Mr King (does Julie slightly roll her eyes at this?).  It’s been a few episodes since Fay expressed her feelings for Mr King (she really likes him but doesn’t, repeat doesn’t, fancy him).  Hmm, this is plainly set up as an accident waiting to happen.

There’s been a nice touch of continuity this year as we’ve seen several teachers with colds.  First it was Miss Partridge and now it’s Mr Bronson.  It’s hardly a major plot point, but it’s noticeable nonetheless.  This episode is also noteworthy for the brevity of Mrs McClusky’s appearance – she pops up in the first scene, exchanges a few words with Mrs Reagan, and then vanishes.  Hopefully Gwyneth Powell recorded scenes for some other episodes on the same day, otherwise it seems a bit of a waste to drag her out just for thirty seconds.

Mr Bronson and Mr Baxter break the bad news to Ziggy that the Duke of Edinburgh isn’t coming to Grange Hill.  Well, Mr Baxter breaks the bad news (Mr Bronson isn’t too sympathetic).  I love the way that Mr Baxter points out that Ziggy’s letter is an obvious forgery, making the reasonable suggestion that the Duke would know how to spell Edinburgh!  Gardener and Holloway clearly haven’t been paying attention during their English lessons …..

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Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Thirteen

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 18th February 1986

It’s half term, which is the cue for two episodes worth of out of school antics.  Ziggy and Robbie’s misadventures on the streets of London runs across this episode only whilst the travails of Roland/Zammo and Laura/Julia are spread across both.

Robbie elects to show Ziggy the sights, but since they don’t have any money the boys are forced to be creative.  For some reason (maybe budget related) there wasn’t a school trip this year, so these two episodes function as our main opportunity to see a handful of characters outside of the school environment.  That Margaret Simpson concentrates on only six regulars (although Louise also makes a brief appearance) helps to ensure that all the characters are afforded a decent amount of character development.

Robbie and Ziggy do a spot of ducking and diving (blagging their way onto a Thames pleasure boat for example) which gives their meanderings a slightly nihilistic feel.   It isn’t overstated, since they remain optimistic and cheerful, but there’s a vague sense that they’re dead-end kids with nothing to do and nowhere to go.  Later, when they run out of money the pair are forced to jump the barriers at the Tube station (and dodge the inevitably angry ticket collector).

But whilst both may be a little naughty at times they also still retain their child-like view of the world.  Ziggy’s belief that the Duke of Edinburgh had an intense interest in chalk, for example, or here – as Robbie elects to take Ziggy to a church where some years ago he saw bodies lying in an open crypt.  Unsurprisingly it’s a massive waste of time (the church has been turned into flats and the poor occupant they buzz is naturally perplexed by their request to see the bodies!).

For those who enjoy playing spot the well-known extra, look out some five minutes in as Pat Gorman makes a brief appearance (as man on escalator).

Across the years we only very rarely (Ray, Tucker) saw ex-pupils return to the series as adults.  This is a slight shame as it would have been interesting to have seen which ones sank and which ones swam.  Based on their time in school and their efforts here, it’s hard to imagine either Robbie or Ziggy having a glittering future once the doors of Grange Hill have closed on them for the last time.  But you never know ….

Laura and Julia are different cases altogether.  Both are intelligent, articulate and blessed with well-off parents, but neither of their home lives are necessarily always straightforward with Julia probably faring the worse.  We’ve already been primed that Julia’s father, Mr Glover (Vincent Brimble), is something of a tyrant and so it proves as we meet him for the first time.

Bad tempered would best sum him up. He’s far from happy with his daughter (especially the way she hogs the phone) and is firmly of the opinion that Laura and her mother are very bad influences on her. That he’s heading out to interview Mrs Reagan for the vacant post of head of sports at Grange Hill only adds a little spice to proceedings ….

Earlier in the series it was revealed that Mr Glover had blocked Mrs Reagan’s application. So either this is a second interview or somehow the plotline had become a little fractured (slightly sloppy script-editing maybe?)

Julia and Laura want to go to an all-night party but it’s plain that Mr Glover would never give his permission.  So they decide to go anyway (telling Julia’s parents and Laura’s mother that they’ve gone to visit Julia’s father).  Although Mr Glover might be painted in a somewhat two-dimensional way, it’s difficult not to admit that – as we’ll see next time – his judgement wasn’t the one which was lacking.

The mystery of Louise’s homelife is teased out a little more after she runs into Laura and Julia.  It’s obvious that Louise, with younger brothers in tow, doesn’t want to stop and talk, leaving the uncomfortable impression once again that all isn’t well at home.

It’s worth remembering that Mrs Reagan had asked the girls a while back to see if they could find out what the problem with Louise and her sister was.  But hey don’t appear to have done a great deal about this so far and it’s quite noticeable that although they do express a flicker of concern that Louise seems rushed off her feet, seconds afterwards they ignore her and return to the hot topic of whether Julia should have her ears pierced.

It has to be intentional that there’s a sharp cut early on from Ziggy’s bleak homelife (he shares a grimy one room flat with his parents) to the relatively palatial homes of both Laura and Julia. After Ziggy tells Robbie that anything (even traipsing around the city) has to be better than being stuck inside, the contrast between them and the two girls (chatting on the phone about boys they fancy and who – maybe – fancy them) is striking.

Meanwhile, Zammo’s story is reaching crisis point.  Zammo, along with Doug, Howard (Mike Smart) and Tamsin (Tracey Willmott) make their way to the arcade where Roland is working part-time.  All of Zammo’s companions are of the dubious variety, which instantly makes Roland a little suspicious – but he agrees that they can use the backroom (so that Tamsin can cut Zammo’s hair).  We later see them exit, with Zammo’s hair unchanged, so whatever happened in the room didn’t involve hair. By now the attentive viewer should have a good idea exactly what has been going on – which will be confirmed next time.