Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode One

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Written by Barry Purchese.  Tx 6th January 1987

As is usual with an opening episode, there are various arrivals and departures to be dealt with.  Freddie Mainwaring (Simon Vaughan) is an on-screen newcomer who quickly makes an impression.  He’s a supremely confident forth-former who thinks nothing of chatting up the sixth form girls.  He has his eye on Jackie but she seems less than impressed.  Julie is casting an interested glance his way though ….

As we’ve seen with other characters before, Freddie’s someone who’s been at Grange Hill for a while, he’s just never made it onto the screen.  So Freddie fancies Jackie who doesn’t seem interested in Zammo at present.  Jackie doesn’t fancy Freddie but Julie does (although Freddie is unaware of this) although he’s currently going out with Julia.  Meanwhile Banksie continues to fancy Jackie and, surprisingly, they’re together at present.  Got that?  Good.

Mr Baxter’s departure is explained to the audience in a slightly clumsy way.  Ziggy seems unaware that he’s left, leaving Robbie with the task of explaining that during the last assembly of term it was announced he would be departing Grange Hill to run a sports centre.  Since Ziggy was present, how has he forgotten this?  Was he asleep?  Possibly it would have been better if we’d been told that Ziggy wasn’t present when the original announcement was made, that way it wouldn’t have seemed such a gratuitous info-dump.

There’s a mixture of uniforms – both old and new – on show.  This is a realistic touch as it wouldn’t be credible, money-wise, if every parent had instantly shelled out for the new kit.  We’re told that everyone has until half-term to buy the new uniforms.

With Mr Baxter gone, Mr Bronson is the logical choice to fill the vacant position of deputy head.  Although with Miss Partridge as Head of Studies it’s plain right from the start that they approach the concept of teaching from very different positions.  For Mr Bronson it’s all about rigidity and discipline whilst Miss Partridge is more concerned about creating an atmosphere where the students can develop as individuals.  No doubt sparks will fly!

Mr Bronson is a three R’s man, ridiculing the laissez-faire attitudes of the past, where, he contends, basic concepts such as reading and writing were ignored.  Miss Partridge has a less rosy view of old-school (sorry) teaching methods.  Some things, like canes, are best consigned to history along with “learning pointless facts for useless tests which bear absolutely no relation to the world outside”.

The new sixth-form premises, a converted junior school, doesn’t meet with much approval – especially since most of the facilities are still pint-sized.  Banksie delights in wondering how Roland will manage on the very small toilets ….

We don’t see Zammo until we’ve become reacquainted with the other sixth-formers.  Given the fact that they don’t mention him it’s possible to surmise that he’s still going to be absent from school.  Therefore his sudden appearance in the common room comes as a jolt (which no doubt was intended).  The needle between him and Banksie (a running theme of S8 but virtually absent from S9) is restated here, but the new, clean, mellow Zammo isn’t interested in rising to his bait.

Gonch’s temporary absence (we’re told he’ll be away for a couple of months) has created a temporary power void which Trevor and Imelda are both keen to fill.  Had Gonch been a bully this would have been a little easier to understand (it’s hard to imagine either Trevor or Imelda indulging in any of Gonch’s money-making schemes).  Imelda has a score to settle with virtually everyone (she has a hitlist, with Ziggy’s name on top).

So whilst Imelda’s unchanged from last year (possibly a little worse) it seems that Trevor’s undergone something of a transformation. Up until now he’s been a fairly half-hearted bully at best (and virtually human at other times) but in this episode he’s rather unpleasant.  This is only a temporary blip though as he’ll revert back to his more unthreatening persona over time.  But for now he’s in bully-mode – and calls a truce with Imelda (this is confirmed by the way he leaves his former friend Vince in her delicate clutches)

Mr Scott (Aran Bell) has a baptism of fire as E3’s new form tutor.  We’ve seen teachers struggle before (Mr McGuffy, Mr Knowles) but usually it’s only been a temporary blip – within an episode or two they’ve managed to gain the respect of their pupils.  Mr Scott will have no such luck, as his struggle to maintain order plays out across the majority of series ten.  From his first appearance you can tell that he’s going to have a major job on his hands and Bell is good at showing Mr Scott’s anxiety (the way he clutches the timetable as well as his hesitancy and slight air of helplessness).  The wolfish grin that Imelda casts in his direction makes it plain that she’s going to delight in making his life a misery ….

Imelda still has the loyal Sharon to rely on (although not for much longer, as this rather undeveloped character will exit after the next episode) but where is Helen?  Georgina was the first of Imelda’s gang to leave and Helen is now the next.  At times last year it seemed that she wanted to break free but lacked the courage to do so.  Now she’s finally decided to do so.

It’s time for Harriet the donkey to rear her head again.  Mr Griffiths decides to hide the donkey on site as he can’t bear the thought that otherwise she might have to pay a visit to the glue factory.  Ziggy and Helen quickly become his loyal helpers (clearly Mr Griffiths has forgotten that he spent most of last year pursuing Ziggy for various misdemeanours – both real and imaginary).

Ziggy and Helen have a slightly rocky road before they see eye to eye – but eventually they bond over their mutual love of Liverpool FC.  Ziggy’s passion for his hometown team makes sense, but why is Londoner Helen a supporter?  Today, of course, nobody would bat an eyelid at this, but once upon a time it was considered bad form not to support your local team.  Although Ziggy seems more concerned that, being a girl, Helen obviously can’t know the first thing about the beautiful game.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Two

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Written by Barry Purchese.  Tx 9th January 1987

The cramped sixth form common room means that everybody seems to be getting on everybody else’s nerves, although Banksie is the one who’s picking up most of the flack.  No tea, dirty cups, a spoon left in the bag of sugar and used tea bags not put in the bin are the main bugbears.  He can’t be guilty of all of these crimes but he’s the quickest to react and angrily storms off.

So far so typical then.  But later, when Banksie’s alone in the room he admits to the recently arrived Miss Partridge that he was in the wrong – he just couldn’t bring himself to admit this in front of Zammo.  The simmering rivalry between them isn’t really developing at present though, mainly because Zammo’s not interested in fighting – he’s more concerned with knuckling down and passing his resits.

Banksie’s taking a CPVE course (completely pointless vocational education as he dubs it).  Although it’s teased out that this is something he feels faintly ashamed about (some might not see it as a “real” qualification) Miss Partridge is able to explain that it offers practical, real-world experience which he may find has a positive impact.  This ties back to her comments in the previous episode, where we saw her as an advocate of this type of teaching.  Fay and Zammo, by resitting their O Levels, are placed more in Mr Bronson’s camp – where ultimate success or failure is determined by your ability to deal with the pressure of exams.

Meanwhile Mr Scott is continuing to find class control a problem.  He only has a couple of rotten apples – Imelda and Trevor – but they’re enough to cause chaos and confusion.  A male/female bully partnership isn’t something we’ve seen in GH before, which makes it a little noteworthy.  It’s obvious that Imelda wears the trousers though, leaving Trevor content to trail in her wake.

The battle between Imelda and Mr Scott is something which develops during the first half of series ten.  Here, Imelda’s very much got the upper hand – totally unwilling to acknowledge Mr Scott’s authority – and had Mr Kennedy not entered the room (keen to speak to Imelda about another of her misdemeanours) then goodness knows how the situation would have escalated.  With Imelda temporarily removed, a semblance of peace is restored but it can’t be seen as any sort of victory for Mr Scott.  He shouldn’t feel too bad though, since Mr Kennedy isn’t able to make any headway with her either.

A later staff-room conflab between the two teachers sees Mr Kennedy attempt to raise Mr Scott’s spirits.  What the younger man is going through is something that they’ve all had to deal with – it’s just a case of getting through this first, difficult period.  Many of them, he’s told, felt utter failures during their first term, but they survived and prospered.

Chicken Man gets a rare mid-episode outing as Mr Griffiths eyes up a vacant shed on the school lot.  I wonder what he’s planning?  Hmm, do you think the booklet he’s reading (How To Look After and Care For Your Donkey) has anything to do with it?  Be warned, Harriet is coming ….

With Trevor and Vince no longer speaking, the forlorn Vince teams up with an equally bereft Hollo (who’s still waiting for Gonch’s return).  There’s another changing of the guard as the previously inseparable Robbie and Ziggy are briefly split up as Ziggy, Helen and Mr Griffiths get further involved in Operation Harriet.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen computers in the school (at one point they only seemed to own a single one!).  It’s not surprising that by the mid eighties they’ve become more widespread (colour monitors as well) but the computer class is partly just an excuse for Imelda to cause yet more trouble (“she’s completely crashed the memory”).

Ziggy also uses the class as an opportunity to destroy Imelda’s hitlist by feeding it into a dot matrix printer.  No, I don’t understand this either – the printer’s not a paper shredder – but since many people would still have been fairly computer illiterate at the time I think we can forgive them this slight touch of dramatic licence.

Today’s computer class is quite a productive one as Calley then accidentally hits on a new language – by substituting ‘Andrew’ and ‘Barry’ for any time ‘A’ or ‘B’ is included in a word, what appears to be gibberish can easily be decoded (provided you know the trick).

Miss Booth attempts to convince Danny that a mural on the wall of the local community centre would be a decent project to get involved in.  She dangles the carrot that they’d both be in charge, although he’s somewhat disbelieving on this score.  For a moment it seems as if he’s mellowed, but he’s still the same spiky individual underneath, unable to respond positively to anybody (at least not to begin with).  Why Miss Booth continues to indulge him (is he the only talented artist in the school?) is a curious point – possibly she sees art as the best opportunity he has to lead a fulfilling life (academically gifted he’s not).

Although as we’ll see, Danny’s story will develop in various unexpected ways during the next few years.  A little groundwork is done here as he tells Miss Booth that he’s a twin (or was) as his brother died when he was born.  All his life he’s carried a burden of guilt – he lived, his brother died – and this trauma has convinced him that he’ll always be a loner.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Three

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Written by David Angus.  Tx 13th January 1987

Trevor continues his hard man campaign.  He’s now attracted a posse of silent henchman who stand menacingly behind him as he carries out his low-level reign of terror.  The first example of this is when he attempts to rip Ziggy’s pools coupon.  Well I said it was low-level …..

Good old Mr Griffiths is on hand to stop things escalating, but he has an ulterior motive – he needs to inform Ziggy about the latest steps concerning Operation Harriet.  Ziggy needs his right-hand man – Robbie – involved and after some persuading the reluctant Mr Griffiths agrees.  Ziggy paints an attractive picture of Harriet to the uncomprehending Robbie.  “You’ll love her. Big ears, big teeth, hairy legs”.

Quite how Mr Griffiths has been able to sneak in several bales of hay with nobody noticing is a slight mystery and there’s a close shave when Mrs McClusky comes wandering past.  Cue comic innocence and spluttering from George A. Cooper.

Mr Scott’s attempt to take the register is once again scuppered by Imelda, although the rest of the class (apart from Ronnie of course) don’t help. This is followed by a brief scene of Robbie and Ziggy boisterously battering an unfortunate extra as they all rush down the stairs.  There’s something very early-Tucker like about this moment whilst it’s also noteworthy that the boys are characterised here in a non-verbal way (aggression) whilst the girls following them – Ronnie, Calley, Jane – proceed at a much slower pace and are articulate as they debate Imelda and the negative impact she has on their lessons.

The school magazine plotline from last year didn’t really develop, so it seems to have been quietly shelved in favour of a radio station.  In this episode it’s simply an embryonic idea suggested by Danny but since it clearly has the potential (like the magazine) to disseminate information that the staff would sooner not be made public, we’ll later see how it’s able to cover similar ground.

Quite why Danny – who loathes Grange Hill – would be keen to launch a radio station is a slight mystery.  But it’s easy to see why he wants to get his hands on the new GH staff handbook (he’s made it plain in the past that he regards the school as an organisation designed to crush and normalise the pupils).  But since it’s for staff only he’s going to be disappointed – unless somebody can somehow lay their hands on a copy …

Given that Mr Bronson would clearly be upset if they fell into the wrong hands, why did he entrust them to Vince and Hollo?  They’re reliable enough, but with tedious inevitability they run into Imelda who scatters them far and wide.  And wide enough so that Freddie can scoop one up.

The handbook – a synthesis of the differing approaches of Mr Bronson and Miss Partridge – doesn’t fill the rest of the staff with joy.  One of its purposes (no doubt this came from Mr Bronson) seems to be to increase the amount of paperwork.  As Mrs Reagan puts it.  “Who needs lessons when we can all enjoy ourselves filling in forms?”

Possibly Mr Bronson’s most contentious decision is to introduce pupil profiles (which naturally they won’t be able to see).  Both sides of the argument are then expressed.  Mr Bronson is adamant that the staff shouldn’t feel inhibited about what they decide to write about an individual pupil but the counter-argument is obvious – if the comments are fair then the teacher in question should have nothing to worry about by having the files read by pupils and parents.

It’s almost as if this has been designed deliberately to inflame relations between the staff and pupils.  Although it seems to be mainly Mr Bronson’s handiwork it clearly has the approval of Mrs McClusky.  This maybe shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as whilst her authoritarian streak has been less pronounced in recent years, she’s never been hesitant in drawing a clear line between staff and pupils.

The episode ends with Mr Griffiths pointing at a map he’s painstakingly made, which shows the journey Harriet will have to take from the stables to the safety of the school.  No, I don’t know why he’s drawn a map either. Can he, Ziggy, Robbie and Helen pull this daring rescue operation off?  They all hurrah in a somewhat unconvincing way (not the most compelling end of episode moment ever) but we’ll have to wait and see.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Four

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Written by David Angus.  Tx 16th January 1987

It’s been a while since we’ve observed Mr Bronson at work.  Unsurprisingly he still continues to rule his classes by fear – and today it’s the unfortunate Julia who has to shamefacedly admit that she’s made an error.  Mr Bronson stands close-by, twiddling a pencil whilst haranguing Julia about her general level of carelessness.

Danny’s had enough of this oppressive atmosphere and decides to make a break for it.  This is plainly connected to his – as yet – undiagnosed illness rather than just another example of his normal lack of disconnectedness.

I wonder what happened to Zammo and Jackie during the holidays?  Since they don’t seem to have seen each other, not a great deal, which is a slight oddity given the way we left them at the end of S9.  In the penultimate episode we saw that Jackie still cared deeply for him, she just couldn’t bring herself to attempt a visit.  Her position had softened considerably by the final episode but after that it appears that Steven Banks, for all his character faults, appealed to her as the steadier prospect.

So Jackie and Banksie are currently an item, although he – with his usual lack of self-esteem – complains that he never feels welcome whenever he goes to visit her family (although since they probably still remember the stock-car crash from 1985 that’s not too surprising).  There’s still a spark between Jackie and Zammo though, so everything seems set for a slow reconciliation between them.

Mr Kennedy, once again sharing his lunch with the pupils, is mildly intrigued by the prospect of Danny’s radio station.  He’s also able to lend a sympathetic ear to Louise’s concerns that she won’t be able to talk on a chosen subject for ten minutes.  Rather neatly, Louise decides to talk about her new family life.  This is a clever way of confirming that she’s now getting along fine with her aunt and uncle, but since it’s done during the course of a lesson it doesn’t feel like a forced question from one of her friends.

Although Mr Kennedy’s clearly a caring teacher, he doesn’t notice that Danny’s far from well during this lesson.  It’s hard to miss – his general wooziness and rapid blinking – so quite how this doesn’t get commented on is a slight mystery.  Freddie’s in the background wearing a concerned expression, but I’ve already got the feeling that this plotline has been stretched about as far as it can go.  Surely by now somebody would have spotted the signs?

Let’s check in with Operation Harriet.  After Mr Griffiths loads the donkey aboard his van, there’s no room for Robbie and Ziggy who are forced to run back to school.  At one point the boys hear a loud braying from the van (“well it’s not Griffiths is it?”) and dash over to investigate.  They pass a couple of bemused bystanders who I think were genuine passers-by rather than extras.  Some of the other baffled old-dears they pass might have been extras though, given the amount of head-shaking they do.

So none of them considered the possibility that a donkey might want to make donkey-like noises?  Okay.  Bear in mind that we’re only at episode five and Harriet doesn’t take her final bow until episode twenty, so we’ve got a long, long, way to go ….

Ant’s back.  He’s only visiting, although his visit takes him and Danny straight to Harriet’s stable.  Why did he decide to poke about in that particular shed?  Some sort of sixth sense?  I’m trying to be generous but the saga of Harriet is already beginning to wear a little thin.

Still, the sight of Mr Griffiths attempting to manoeuvre his van containing the donkey past Mrs Reagan’s netball team is a mildly amusing one.  That Harriet obligingly moves into the frame as Mr Griffiths is circling the playground was either a stroke of luck or a nicely directed moment.

For the second episode in a row we close on the four musketeers – Mr Griffiths, Robbie, Ziggy and Helen – although this time they’re toasting their success.  It’s as oddly directed as the previous episode closer though.  This time, Mr Griffiths and the others burble on for a few seconds about nothing (a brief spot of improvised chatter maybe?)

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Five

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Written by David Angus. Tx 20th January 1987

We saw several times last year that Zammo appeared to have kicked his drugs habit, only for his (fairly transparent) lies to be quickly found out.  So when Jackie sees him handing over money to Howard and Doug she naturally thinks the worst.

Zammo – for once – is blameless, but convincing Jackie isn’t easy.  Although given that she and Zammo are no longer an item, neither should be that bothered about what the other thinks.  Except it seems inevitable they’ll get back together (had they not, it would have been something of a surprise) so this scene serves as evidence that Jackie – despite her previous polite indifference – still cares deeply for Zammo.

He’s more blatant, telling her that he can’t cope without her. But such obvious emotional blackmail doesn’t cut any ice with her. Not yet anyway …

Danny’s continuing to have regular swooning fits.  And still everybody is slow to react.  To be fair, the staff – with the notable exception of Mr Bronson – are beginning to wonder if something is wrong (although somebody really should have done something by now).  Unsurprisingly Mr Bronson simply believes the boy is displaying his usual inattentiveness and contempt for authority and places him on report.

Mr Scott’s hanging around the staffroom, five minutes after the bell has gone, clearly wishing he could be anywhere other than Grange Hill. You can’t blame him – since Imelda, sporting a portable(ish) radio is intent on causing trouble. And Mr Scott’s plaintive “not in here Imelda” isn’t going to cut any ice with her.

Mrs McClusky shows her human side by offering Zammo and Fay, revising for their resists in the library, some moral support. They’re both feeling a little low – as they’ve effectively dropped down a year they now feel isolated from the rest of the sixth-formers. Or maybe it’s just that both are still pining for their lost loves – Jackie and Mr King respectively.

Donkey Watch. Harriet isn’t the quietest of beasts (which the milkman – making his early round delivery – notices). Ziggy dreams of being a manure king – but unlike Gonch (who would have been concerned only making a profit) Ziggy plans to sell it in order to buy more food for Harriet. It’s the perfect circular solution.

Exercise is going to be something of a problem though, so Ziggy and Helen knock up a disguise.  What they come up with is very silly – never mind, just another fifteen episodes and we’ll be able to bid Harriet a fond farewell.  Mrs McClusky is somewhat surprised to discover a pile of dung on the path. I love the way that Mr Griffiths, walking beside her, casually looks up into the sky. Was anybody convinced by his suggestion that a very large bird was responsible? I don’t know, but it’s a nice comic moment.

Meanwhile Roland has suddenly turned into a remorseless hardman, casually blackmailing Mr Griffiths as if he’d had years of practice.  Having found out about Harriet, Roland uses his knowledge to force Mr Griffiths into finding them a larger common room.  Cue indignant spluttering from George A. Cooper as Mr Griffiths eventually realises he’s been outmanoeuvred and is therefore forced to accede to Roland’s request. But first he has to vent his feelings to Harriet. “Terrible thing blackmail. Once you give into it, they’ve got you”.

Now that Harriet is becoming more and more ubiquitous, surely it can’t be long before she’s discovered?  Well yes, but that’s not the end of the story …..

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Six

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Written by David Angus.  Tx 23rd January 1987

Vince and Hollo continue their partnership, although it’s somewhat low on excitement.  Last time Vince, still smarting that Ziggy hadn’t paid back a pound he owed him, decided to steal his bag in retaliation.  Hollo, the peacemaker, returns Ziggy’s bag and gives Vince a pound (claiming it came from Ziggy, when in fact it was Hollo’s).  What the absent Gonch would have made of this cavalier attitude to money is easy to guess ….

Imelda continues to needle Mr Scott.  During registration she delights in playing her radio at full blast. Now that all her Terrahawks have deserted her, Imelda has Natasha (Patsy Palmer) for company. No doubt due to her later career (like many other Grange Hill students she ended up in Albert Square) Palmer is one of the most distinctive extras of this era.  Often seen lingering in the background and very occasionally granted the privilege of a line or two.

Relations between Imelda and Mr Scott then sink to a new low after she smashes a flask during his chemistry class.  This sort of destructive disruption isn’t something we’ve seen too often before (although the S1 Tucker Jenkins could be something of a handful during lessons) since the likes of Gripper seemed to play truant more often than they attended classes.

The fact that Imelda seems to have a decent attendance record is therefore a little noteworthy.  She clearly prefers to be in school causing trouble rather than pounding the streets with nothing to do.  The question is, how long can her behaviour be tolerated?

Ronnie asks Mr Kennedy if she can be moved to another class, but he’s somewhat noncommittal.  It would certainly solve the immediate problem for this class, but it would simply mean that the problem was elsewhere.  This may be why he’s not keen, but it’s also obvious that Imelda’s only really a problem in Mr Scott’s class. It’s not stated out loud, but both know that he’s the weak link.

After spending a few episodes as an unpleasant bully, Trevor seems to be regressing back to his usual buffoonish persona. He crows to Ziggy and Robbie that he picked more score draws than they did on the last pools coupon (Trevor’s gang of unsmiling hangers-on also appear to have disappeared).

Mr Kennedy’s convinced that Danny’s recent strange behaviour could be drugs related. Eh? He says that the parallels between Danny this year and Zammo last year are obvious, but I’m not seeing them. Mr Bronson rules out drugs – to him, Danny’s the same as he’s always been. “Moody, willful, insolent”. He’s not a fan then.

Julia’s not happy that Freddie’s ignoring her in favour of Julie.  And Julia being Julia, she tends to express this in a slightly whiny way.  Clearly she hasn’t yet realised that she’s well shot of him (there’s only one person who Freddie loves – and that’s Freddie himself).

Speaking of Natasha and her occassional allocation of lines, as we were earlier, she gets one in this episode. Slightly oddly she’s talking to Julia (generally third and second years wouldn’t mix – we’ve never seen them together before that’s for sure) and she offers Julia this sage advice, re Freddie. “I don’t think he’s worth it, you should forget about him”. Classic stuff, as is the way that Natasha looks longingly at Freddie even after she’s just slagged him off!

Radio Grange Hill hits a small snag when it becomes apparent that several hundred pounds will be needed in order to install the free equipment in order to get it up and running. But Roland, who’s struck up an instant friendship with Danny, has some ideas.

Zammo continues to teeter on the edge. Last time his meeting with his old druggy friends was innocent – this time it’s not. He’s able to fluently lie about it to Jackie though (deception is something he’s become very good at). He sits in the toilet, a packet of some unhealthy substance in his hand. Does he succumb? It’s not obvious, but Jackie – alone in the common room – is instantly aware that something’s up with him. This moment – slightly oddly – serves as the moment of their reconciliation.

Donkey watch.  Having clearly tired of annoying Mr Scott, Imelda now sets her sights on the unfortunate Harriet.  Imelda threatens to expose Mr Griffith’s donkey secret to Mrs McClusky which results in a frantic chase as Ziggy and Robbie desperately attempt to stop her.  I wonder if the audience were cheering her on though?!

Earlier Harriet was continuing to make loud donkey noises (which Mr Griffiths attempted to cover up by coughing loudly or blaming the heating). Hmm, much as I love George A. Cooper this is a storyline which tries the patience.

Eventually Mrs McClusky does discover Harriet in all her glory but decides that she can stay.  Maybe Mr Griffiths should have been upfront to begin with (it certainly would have saved us a few episodes worth of running about).  No matter, we got there in the end.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Seven

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Written by Rosemary Mason.  Tx 27th January 1987

You have to feel a little sorry for Banksie.  After pursuing Jackie for the last few years he finally got his wish – as they became an item – only for her to now dump him without a word.  At the end of the last episode we saw him discover the truth (he angrily wobbled away on his motorbike).

He’s back on his bike at the start of this one, as he catches up with Jackie on the way to school.  It seems that Jackie hasn’t even told him it’s over to his face (and since she’s clearly been pining for Zammo all this time, possibly she was never interested in him in the first place anyway).

This means that Banksie’s not in the best of moods so when he’s subjected to one of Mr Bronson’s “You boy!” he reacts in a typically truculent manner.  This is the first “You boy!” we’ve heard in a while – nice to have it back on the school timetable again.  Mr Bronson isn’t happy that Banksie’s brought his bike into school (motorised transport driven by pupils is strictly forbidden on school grounds) whilst Banksie’s clearly not pleased at being spoken to as if he was a small child.

But Mr Bronson’s main interests are elsewhere.  He’s very irked (to put it mildly) that Danny threw his diary into the fishpond (Danny’s response is that he won’t need it anymore).  This scene is shot behind Mr Bronson – we see Danny through the crook of Mr Bronson’s arm – which is an usual framing device (normally GH tends to be rather plainly directed with few interesting flourishes).  The meaning behind Danny’s statement isn’t spelled out, so for now we remain in the dark.

We meet Mr Kendall (Chris Saunders) who’s come to the school ostensibly to talk about the radio scheme but he – like Mrs McClusky – also wants to discuss Danny.  Rather embarrassingly they’re at complete cross-purposes.  She believes that he’s going to confirm that Danny’s on drugs – well he is, but only because he’s very ill.  It seems more than a little foolhardy to suggest to a parent that their son is a drug addict without any firm proof.

Roland, Danny’s instant best new friend, happens to be eavesdropping outside the office and hears everything.  Treatment is available – via a special unit in Aberdeen – but it will incur costs, so Roland immediately heads off to do a spot of fundraising.  So in an instant Danny has changed from being an enigma to some and an irritation to others.  From this point on he’s the recipient of sympathy from all.  Even Mr Bronson.

Mr Scott’s registration period remains a battleground.  Today Imelda mercilessly teases Ronnie about her unrequited passion for the teacher.  This is illusionary of course (we’re not heading down the Fay/Mr King road anytime soon) but it helps to keep the pressure stoked up.  A non-verbal signifier of Mr Scott’s continuing discipline problems can be seen on the blackboard, which is covered with scrawled messages (remarkably none of them are rude).

Banksie continues to carry his black mood into Miss Partidge’s lesson.  A spot of role-play allows him to articulate his anger at being cast aside by Jackie (a bad move that Miss Partridge elected to pair the two of them together in an exercise which cast him as a surly waiter and her as a customer).  And if this doesn’t entertain then you can always just sit back and admire the jumpers worn by the extras.

Roland’s transformation from an outsider and misfit (seen during 1982 to 1984) to a rounded member of the school community (from 1985 onwards) continues here.  He’s passionate about the radio station – partly because he thinks it’s a good idea but mostly because he wants to fulfil Danny’s wish – and his gift of the gab means he’s able to blag some free cable from a local electrical shop.

He marshals some of the others – such as Robbie and Ziggy – into helping, although things don’t quite go the way they should have done.  Some runaway cable provides a limp comedy moment which comes complete with a prat-falling milkman.  And then it turns out that they took the wrong cable, although it’s hard to blame them for this mistake as surely one lot of cable would look pretty much like another.

Grange Hill are collecting bottles, so Vince and Hollo decide to pick up as many as they can.  Remember what I said about their largely excitement free plotlines?  I miss Gonch.

Donkey watch.  This was shaping up to be a Harriet-free episode, but no she makes a brief appearance at the end as a stroppy Imelda lets her roam free.  It looks as if Harriet was responsible for damaging Mr Bronson’s car but he decides (with no evidence) that Banksie was responsible.  We’ve been here before with Mr Bronson jumping to conclusions ….

Mr Bronson enters the sixth form common room just as Banksie demonstrates his unique way of dealing with dirty coffee mugs – he throws it against the wall, smashing it to pieces (“now no-one will have to wash it up, will they?”)  Mr Bronson doesn’t like that. “You, vandal! My car and now this!”  The truth later comes to light as he spies a large pile of donkey droppings by his car (weren’t they there before?).  “She will have to go” he mutters.  Yes please.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Eight

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Written by Rosemary Mason.  Tx 31st January 1987

Mr Griffiths isn’t happy with the piles of bottles which are accumulating around the school.  “Mark my words they’ll be broken bottles and tears”.  This point is made seconds later after Mr Bronson reverses his car into a crate of bottles and smashes them.  Oh dear.

The radio room is taking shape.  I daresay that if this episode was repeated today then they’d probably pixilate the prominent poster of Dave Lee Travis.  The common room posters of Gary Davies and Bruno Brookes would be acceptable though.

Ant make his latest appearance, today he’s walking Georgina to school.  He’s not changed since he was a GH pupil – He’s still the same sullen, stroppy person that we grew to love (or not) last year.  It hasn’t taken him long to find his new school as tiresome as his old, although since there’s no Mr Bronson there it’s unclear what his problem now is.

Mrs McClusky stands for no nonsense as she quietens down the rowdier third-formers who are carousing through the corridors.  “I said walk, Trevor Cleaver, not stand still and smirk”.

Mr Scott continues to be a forlorn figure.  His body language as he sits in his orange Mini makes it plain that he’s continuing to fight his nerves.  The way that Mr Kennedy is suddenly revealed at his window comes as a surprise both to him and the audience.  Mr Kennedy makes the point that it’s better if he’s in the classroom before the pupils arrive (he made the same suggestion some time ago) but it seems that it doesn’t work.  Nothing seems to work, which is why he continues to flounder.  Given that Imelda is his main problem (something which is acknowledged by Mr Kennedy) is does seem a little mean that a green, young teacher has been gifted her.

Imelda might be an isolated figure – despised by all her classmates – but she still continues to rule the roost.  But there are signs that they’ve all lost their patience with her (and indeed with Mr Scott) which means that the teacher has to endure the sight of his pupils attempting to restore order, when of course it should be his job.

The question of closed profiles continues to rumble on.  The likes of Freddie and Danny aren’t particularly happy – Danny wonders what would happen if a teacher, who didn’t care for a pupil, decided to write something inaccurate or defamatory.  What checks and balances are in place?  Mr Bronson can’t really answer this and since Danny’s illness became public he’s had to tread somewhat softly with him (which is possibly the reason why he’s now singled out Banksie for special treatment.  Mr Bronson clearly always has to have someone he can needle).

Having earlier given Mr Scott a pep talk, Mr Kennedy then moves onto Mr Bronson.  The older teacher laments Danny’s illness (“young potential wasted”) which surprises Mr Kennedy, who naturally enough believed that Mr Bronson had little time for the boy.  Mr Bronson offers this in reply.  “It is often the most gifted of pupils who kick against the system. It doesn’t make the system wrong or the pupils not worth bothering about”.  A rare insight into the way Mr Bronson’s mind works o a desperate attempt to justify his previous actions?

Hollo and Vince decide that the bottle money should go to Danny Kendal’s fund whilst Ziggy and Robbie continue to attempt to crack the girl’s secret code.  This involves the pair hiding in the hay of Harriet’s stable in order to overhear their conversation.  This is such a brilliant scheme it’s hard to imagine anything going wrong.

Oh wait, this is Ziggy and Robbie we’re talking about, the pair who spent last year atempting – and failing – to gain revenge over Imelda on a weekly basis so of course their great plan is doomed.  It wasn’t too clever for Ziggy’s foot to be sticking out of the hay.

The radio is now set up for a test transmission.  Mr Bronson views the set-up with disfavour and is not backwards in coming forwards to say so.  He can’t resist flicking a few switches and impatiently ignores Miss Booth’s admonition (“I’m not a complete idiot”).  Those are fatal words as you know that the microphone will now be live and their private conversation will be broadcast around the school.  This mainly involves Mr Mackenzie jibing Mr Bronson about the scandal which exists between him and Harriet.  The mind boggles …..

Calley, Ronnie and Jane gain revenge over Imelda.  It’s noticeable how Jane this year has moved back into the centre of things having sat out a large part of the previous series.  And whist the girls are getting messy, Danny’s inspirational message continues to be broadcast around the school.  But the sting in the tale is that his message was recorded as Roland discovers when he finds an unconscious Danny on the radio room floor.

This is the cue for an unusual end credits sequence as the scene of the ambulance arriving and everybody staring anxiously plays out as the titles roll and Chicken Man plays.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Nine

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 3rd February 1987

I do believe Mr Bronson is human after all.  Spying Banksie walking to school he offers him a lift in his car.  Banksie initially refuses, but Mr Bronson isn’t taking no for an answer and eventually the boy agrees.  The teacher listens sympathetically to the reason why he no longer brings his motorbike to school (left outside in the street it’s liable to get knocked about) and decides that if it was left in the carpark then it would be safer.

All this and apologising for accusing him of wrecking his car too.  I wonder what’s caused this sudden sea change, could it be Danny’s illness?  There’s certainly a much more conciliatory air about Mr Bronson at present – witness the way he organises a lunchtime meeting to consider ways they can raise funds for Danny’s family.

It’s strange though to see him stripped of his usual arrogance as it’s such a defining character trait.  Without it he’s curiously vulnerable – this is most evident when he’s standing outside the assembly hall, fretting that his meeting will be poorly attended.  The reason?  Everybody’s attending a rival meeting organised by the pupils in the radio room.

His sudden cheerleading for Danny doesn’t go down well with everyone – most notably Miss Booth, who’s in something of a stroppy mood anyway.  She’s not pleased with Mr Bronson’s sudden adoption of Danny as Grange Hill’s favourite son and she’s even less delighted when Mr Kennedy takes over editorial control of the radio station.  Her bad day continues when Ziggy tells her she’s not welcome at their meeting (although it’s plain he doesn’t speak for the others).

Ziggy’s in a rather arrogant mood, which isn’t like him.  He declares that he’ll raise funds for Danny by scaling the highest building in the school and planting a banner (shades of Tucker J).  But before he can get started he needs money for the banner and a safety harness, meaning that his capital outlay makes it hard to imagine he’ll end up making that much money.  And whilst he claims to be doing it all for Danny, it seems to be more about Ziggy’s lust for glory.  As I said, a tad unusual.  He does manage to get some money from the others though, a point which will become important later ….

Imelda, it may not surprise you to learn, is still causing trouble.  It’s serious this time though as she gets involved in a classroom scrap which results in a bloody nose for Ronnie and general mayhem.  An unusual high shot gives us a bird’s-eye view of this short, but explosive piece of action.

Mr Scott’s not present (he’d already hightailed it out to find Mr Kennedy).  The older teacher doesn’t seem terribly pleased to be called, which no doubt only serves to fray Mr Scott’s already shattered nerves some more.  So Imelda is removed from class for the day with the warning that she’s well on the way to being suspended – something which appears to fill her with complete indifference.

Banksie and Jackie – separately  – take the opportunity to bend Fay’s ear.  Banksie’s wondering if he should go on the forthcoming canal trip as he can’t bear being close to Jackie if she’s still not speaking to him.  Jackie meanwhile is ruminating on her reactivated relationship with Zammo.  Fay, who’s been frantically studying all year, possibly isn’t too bothered about either of their tangled love lives but is too polite to say so.

It’s very odd to see Calley, Ronnie and Hollo together as they’re not a natural trio.  The reason quickly becomes clear as the girls have news – Gonch is due back soon.  But that’s not all – he and Ronnie are an item and have been for a while.  Hollo is unbelieving, surely Gonch would have shared this news with his best friend?  A surprising revelation that’s for sure and it’s a little odd that it’s not been mentioned before.

Donkey watch.  Helen is clearly very fond of Harriet (nothing else could excuse the baby talk she indulges in) whilst Imelda is much less so.  We can tell that Imelda’s a rotter by the way that she kicks the donkey, although this does have an ulterior motive.  She wants Ziggy’s money, which he’s hidden in Harriet’s stable ….

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Ten

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 6th February 1987

Gonch is back and bearing gifts.  They’re mostly for Ronnie – earrings, a scarf and first of all a bunch of flowers.

Mr Glover pops up for the first time this year.  He’s his usual charmless self and today is baffled as to why everybody’s raising money for Danny.  As one of the more anti-social members of the school community he wonders why anyone would waste their time on him (he doesn’t quite come out and say it wouldn’t matter if he lived or died, but that seems to be his general drift).

Besides, he believes all these extra-curricular activities are getting in the way of Grange Hill providing their pupils with a decent education.  This is a not unreasonable point (in this episode Freddie seems to live in the radio room, so quite how he’s managing to do his schoolwork is a mystery) but Mr Glover doesn’t seem to comprehend that the school should also operate as a community. When it does, then it can teach important life sessons.

As a businessman he seems to embrace the Thatcherite ideal that there’s no such thing as society.  Everybody should look out for themselves and the weak are presumably left to perish.  No wonder that Julia rolls her eyes rather delightfully at this latest diatribe.

Gonch isn’t the only returnee as Laura’s back after a long absence.  Although Gonch’s absence was scripted – Laura’s presumably just been hanging around the school always just out of shot.

As a recovering addict, it’s possibly not surprising that Zammo’s become a master of manipulation.  He wants Jackie to come with him to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting during half term.  This means she would miss the canal trip – but this is all the better in Zammo’s eyes, as he doesn’t like the thought of her and Banksie being stuck together for a week on the same barge.  So is Zammo being sincere when he tells her that he needs her moral support during this difficult period or does he simply not want to risk that she might restart her relationship with Banksie?  If it’s the latter then he’s clearly not a trusting person ….

It was already hinted at last time, but Gonch’s return has something of a destabilising effect.  Hollo finds himself a little sidelined as Gonch is now spending more time with Ronnie than he is with him.  Vince is put out that Hollo shares the secret of their underground secret den (he might want to bring Ronnie – a girl! – back there) whilst even Calley exchanges a brief look with Hollo that suggests she’s not terribly happy with the current situation either.  Although to be fair to Calley she’s much more understanding than Hollo is.

Banksie attempts once more to win Jackie back, but with the same lack of success.  And his face falls even further when she tells him that she’s not going on the canal trip after all (Gonch will be taking his place) as instead she’ll be accompanying Zammo to Narcotics Anonymous.  Poor Banksie, his plaintive cry of “oh why don’t you like me?” after Jackie leaves the common room would surely melt even the hardest of hearts.

Donkey watch.  A Harriet free episode, hurrah!

And so we bid farewell to Imelda.  After her violent antics in the previous episode she leaves in a much more low-key way.  After yet another classroom disagreement she sinks to the floor and refuses to move.  So the passing Mr Mackenzie clears the room and tells her that he can wait there all day until she decides to get up by herself.  Mrs McClusky decides expulsion is the only answer and asks Mr Glover, who’s popped by to harangue her about various matters, to sanction it.  The way his eyes light up make it clear this is something he’s more than happy to do!

We meet Mrs Davis (Marcia King) for the first and last time.  Although it’s recently been revealed that Imelda meets with an educational psychologist we’ve not (unlike Roland) been privy to any of those meetings.  Therefore Imelda’s always remained an unfathomable character.

Will Mrs Davis provide any pointers as to why her daughter is the way she is?  Well Mrs Davis is a little brassy and, to begin with, unconcerned.  She knows that her daughter is (at best) naughty but presumably considers that it’s the school’s problem, not hers.  Only when Mrs McClusky tells her that Imelda will have to leave and possibly attend a special unit (for children like Imelda “who are a little disturbed and have difficulty fitting in”) does she react.  Mrs Davis curls her lip at this.  “You teachers. The labels you put on people”.

Mr Kennedy wishes Imelda all the best as she leaves, but characteristically she doesn’t respond. Therefore she remains an enigma right until the end.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Eleven

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Written by Barry Purchese.  Tx 10th February 1987

The pupils are en-route to begin their half-term canal boat adventure.  Their journey is illustrated by a brief shot of two mini-buses bombing down the motorway whilst they all enthusiastically sing The Chicken Song (although it quickly descends into la, la, la, as nobody seems to remember the words).

Freddie’s going to be a problem.  He’s commandeered one of the two toilets and turned it into a wardrobe for his incredibly diverse collection of clothes.  Since all he really needs are jeans, a sweater and a comfortable pair of boots, there’s no sensible reason for him to have brought so many expensive togs.  I fear it’s going to be a long week with him on board ….

Mr Kennedy offers a short homily about canal boat safety.  But with the likes of Ziggy, Robbie and Trevor standing by the quayside, this week seems like an accident waiting to happen.  A slight moment of dramatic tension is introduced when we observe a stranger lurking in the bushes, watching the departing boats.  Our mystery man pops up several times throughout the episode, his hand constantly pulling back the bushes – all the better to spy.

Freddie is the first to be allowed to steer the boat, something which irks Ziggy no end.  And why are all the children wearing life jackets but Mr Kennedy and Mr Scott aren’t?  Given the lectures we’ve already had on safety, this seems more than a little remiss.  Fay’s ginormous camcorder is a sign of the times (today you’d probably get better picture quality on a phone).

The relationship between Laura and Banksie was one which I didn’t see coming.  It begins here.  Freddie and Julie want to head out for an evening stroll but Mrs Reagan tells them that they need at least three in their party.  Georgina agrees to go along and Mrs Reagan then corrals an unwilling Banksie to join them. Laura (tiring of Julia’s constant sniping about Freddie) also decides to join them.

But for once, Freddie had an ulterior motive which didn’t involve canoodling with Julie.  The mystery man lurking in the bushes turns out to be Ant (so those brief moments of tension didn’t last long) meaning that Freddie’s turned cupid in order to reunite Georgina and Ant.  Quite why Ant would want to traipse all this way (he’s been seeing Georgina regularly anyway) is slightly baffling and the possibility that his attempt to stowaway will be successful seems to be rather on the low side.

Banksie places an arm around Laura’s shoulders but their interaction goes no further at the moment.  But the fact she doesn’t shrug it off or look askance at him tells its own story.

Ziggy’s a terrible cook.  This is another of those obvious moments – after his proud boast that he would be able to knock them up a tasty meal with no trouble, it would have been more of a surprise had he actually delivered something edible.  Mr Kennedy is once again cast in the role of the long-suffering onlooker – viewing the devastation wreaked in the kitchen with dismay.  Luckily Roland’s on hand to save the day with a cauliflower cheese (although Mr Kennedy did earlier on ask him to keep an eye on Ziggy, something which he rather failed to do).  I guess you can say at present that the interest levels in these various plotlines are quite low.

Mr Scott is also a member of the trip, but the kind-hearted Mr Kennedy decided to stow him far away from the third year boys.  No doubt he quickly began to regret this, since it means that Mr Kennedy has to bear the brunt of their idiotic behaviour.  Jeffrey Kissoon is excellent as the increasingly harassed teacher.

Freddie (ironically dubbed ‘Johnny Cool’ by Gonch) turns out to be an industrial strength snorer, which rather obviously dents his romantic lover image.  A trip to the farm isn’t a highlight for him either – he’s dressed in his snazziest clothes, there’s mud and water around, do I really need to go on?

Gonch and Ronnie have their first argument, although since they’ve only just become an item (on screen at least) this doesn’t carry a great deal of weight.  She’s irked that Gonch and Trevor take it in turns to steer the girl’s barge (she’d agreed that only Gonch could do so).  That Gonch still likes to lark about with the boys (Trevor has now completely shook off his briefly held bully persona) shouldn’t really have come as any surprise to her though.

Mr Kennedy, now incandescent with rage at the boys, decides that Robbie, Ziggy, Trevor and Gonch should go camping – but first they have to start from the middle of nowhere and find their tent.  And if they don’t discover it then they’re likely to have a long, cold and hungry night.  Mr Scott explains the rules to them – here he’s far removed from his earlier, hesitant school-based persona.

It’s a bit of a con of course, the teachers are monitoring them from a distance, but it’s mildly entertaining nonetheless.  A pity that they couldn’t film at night though (instead we have a night filter placed on the camera). The episode ends with one of the barges genty floating downstream at night …

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Twelve

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Written by Barry Purchese.  Tx 13th February 1987

Again, you have to wonder exactly what Ant’s getting out of this trip. He has to spend his nights hiding on the boy’s barge (clearly breaching the girl’s one would have been a step too far) so he’s not close to Georgina.  And since she tends to spend her days with the others (and there’s usually a teacher or two around as well) there seems to be few opportunities from them to grab any time together.

At the start of this one he’s somewhat dismayed to find that he can’t sneak away first thing in the morning as the barge has floated away from its mooring.  So he has to hide in one of the toilets, which comes as a surprise to the others ….

Meanwhile, how are our intrepid foursome of Gonch, Trevor, Ziggy and Robbie faring? They made it to the tent and stuck it out through the night, although neither Gonch or Robbie slept at all (they were too frightened by the sounds they could hear outside).  Trevor and Ziggy clearly had less imagination as they slept soundly, but now the time has come to confront their fears.  And they turn out to be … sheep.

I guess you can say that these episodes are somewhat low on the excitement scale.  Also, it’s slightly unbelievable that Mr Scott, who’s been keeping an eye on them, had a tent pitched up very close by.  It might have been dark when they reached their tent the previous evening, but surely they would have spotted that they weren’t alone?  Mr Scott continues to be a transformed man – far removed from the pushover he was at school.  Does this mark the start of a new chapter, or will he regress once he’s back in the corridors of Grange Hill?

The boys are irked that the girls are getting friendly will some local boys.  This inevitably leads to several battles – one of which involves Ziggy stuck up a tree and Freddie yet again bemoaning the fact that his clothes have been ruined.

Mr Scott remains the life and soul of the party.  He digs out a guitar and leads everybody into a somewhat tuneless version of Yellow Submarine.  But while this cacophony is occurring, somehow Freddie is having a doze on his bunk.  But, oh no, the gas has been left on.  Will somebody discover him in time or will he die horribly?  I wonder.  Possibly more interesting is that the others decide to run through the Beatles songbook – next on their torture list is Help although they then decide that Buddy Holly (Oh Boy) deserves their attention as well.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Banksie and Laura seems to have developed off-screen.  Her mother is far from happy that she’s tarted herself up – presumably for his benefit.  As we’ll discover during the remainder of series ten, Mrs Reagan is not a great admirer of Steven Banks.

Mr Scott’s impressive aura already seems to be dissipating.  He tells the others that there’s a hot disco in town – which turns out to be a hop held in the church hall.  “Once a wally, always a wally” mutters Trevor sagely.

Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Thirteen

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 17th February 1987

The pupils of Grange Hill have been allowed to have their say about the burning events of the day.  Sadly, most of the recordings aren’t really primetime radio material (Mr Bronson wears a wig, school custard isn’t great, etc) but a few voices do stand out.

One of them is Fay, who’s unhappy about the inflexibility of the closed report system (no doubt she’s thinking that her dalliance with Mr King might affect her future employment prospects).  The others – Banksie, Laura, Julie, Cheryl – listening back to the recordings agree, although Banksie seems a little more interested in nuzzling Laura.  It’s been something of a whirlwind romance …

Freddie interviews Mrs McClusky.  It’s not exactly a meeting of equals, as Freddie is flustered (partly due to technical problems) whilst Mrs McClusky gives a very domineering and Thatcheresque performance.  She’s patience personified as Freddie fumbles through his questions (her sympathetic smile might be an indication that she’s hardly been tested).   His final question relates to closed reports, but she effortlessly manages to bat off his feeble points.  Reacting to his comment that the files are secret, she sweetly disagrees.  “I prefer the word confidential”.

Fay later accurately suggests that Freddie’s questions weren’t really at fault, it was more to do with the fact that Mrs McClusky – a skilled politician – is well able to avoid answering anything she doesn’t want to.  If the pupils are going to get anywhere then their methods will have to change.

Margaret Simpson’s script harks back to the early eighties, a time when Mrs McClusky ruled Grange Hill with an iron fist and ruthlessly crushed any sign of dissent quickly and effectively.  Her fury when she realises that her comments have been cut up and distorted is highly characteristic of those early days.

But did Freddie and the others really believe that they could recut her interview in a less than flattering light and she’d simply let it pass?  It seems a little naïve if so.  Wise old Mr Mackenzie tells the sixth-formers that broadcasting their message of dissent over the airwaves for all the school to hear wasn’t sensible, whereas writing a reasoned, well-argued report would be more likely to bear fruit.

Zammo and Jackie are discussing getting engaged.  Banksie is a silent – and moody – observer to their intimate chit-chat.  Since he’s now involved with Laura you may have assumed that he’s over Jackie, but given his doomy countenance I don’t think that’s the case.

The arrival of Mr Bronson in the sixth form common room – deputising for an absent Miss Partridge – doesn’t help to perk Steven Banks up.  His choice of a work experience position (a garage) differs somewhat from what he’s been offered (working in a school for handicapped children).  Julie’s going to the same school – Hazelrig Road –  a piece of news which doesn’t cheer him up, although this is nothing personal.  Banksie’s just in a typically scowly mood.

Mrs Reagan continues to pull faces whenever Laura mentions Banksie.  Is it his bad-boy image, the fact he drives a motorbike or that he’s several years older than Laura which is the main problem?  The bike appears to be the thing which upsets Mrs Reagan the most, but it may be that she’s simply using this as a convenient excuse (although motorbikes can be dangerous – especially the way that Banksie rides).

Danny makes an unexpected appearance.  He’s at home, waiting to travel up to Scotland for his first round of treatment.  Freddie and Julie ask him to record a message for the grand opening of Grange Hill’s radio station.

It seems that Cheryl’s morphed into the departed Janet.  This episode she chides Roland about his unhealthy eating habits – a bar of chocolate for breakfast – and suggests he goes on a sponsored diet.  Mind you, she finishes by saying that if he did lose a few pounds then she might fancy him, something which we never heard from Janet.  Roland pulls a speculative face at this titbit of information.

Ziggy’s plan to scale the highest building in the school and plant a banner is ongoing.  He asks Robbie to paint him a banner proclaiming that ‘Ziggy Greaves Was Here’ (not sure why, since Ziggy is a remarkably self-confident sort of chap, convinced that he can do anything himself).  Ziggy’s not too pleased with Robbie’s effort – he tells him that he’s misspelt ‘Woz’ as ‘Was’.  The fact they’re using Miss Booth’s materials without her permission spells inevitable trouble.  When they hear footsteps, they dash for the nearest cupboard but sadly forget to take the banner.  ‘Ziggy Greaves Was He’ is therefore left in full view, forcing Ziggy to attempt to extract it without Miss Booth and Mr Kennedy noticing.

Do they succeed?  Of course not.  Miss Booth sets them an appropriate punishment – they have to clear up the art room later.  Naturally they use this time to also craft a second banner (which is now painted on cloth, more sensible than the paper they initially used).  So all is well.  Well apart from the blocked sink and the inevitable comedy consequences which occur.  And at the worst possible moment Miss Booth walks in.  Oops.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Fourteen

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 20th February 1987

It’s a nice touch that Calley’s interest in horoscopes (first mentioned during series eight) is referenced again here.  Often, character traits are mentioned once or twice and then forgotten about (Ziggy’s love of spiders for example).  Calley is gearing up to produce radio horoscopes (although she’s more than a little reluctant to read them out herself) whilst Vince is keen as mustard to start broadcasting.

His slot – wonderfully titled Savage Sounds – doesn’t start until ten past one and since he comes bursting in at 8:45, Freddie has to gently tell him that he’s just a little early.  A little preparation is required, but possibly not four and a half hours.

Zammo and Jackie’s secret engagement doesn’t stay secret for very long since Jackie can’t resist wearing her engagement ring.  That she’s being so public infuriates Zammo, but if he didn’t want people to know, then why bother to get engaged at all?  Why not wait until they’ve left school?

Jackie’s deliciously blatant in making sure everybody clocks her ring.  She doesn’t quite wave it under their noses, but it’s close.  Meanwhile Zammo sits next to her, twisting his hands and looking less than delighted.  Oh dear.  But the best is yet to come – as their happy news is broadcast over the airwaves for everybody to hear.  Zammo’s not at all happy when this happens, and neither is Robbie (whose relationship with Zammo has changed from hero worship during series eight to simmering antagonism now).

And how well does Banksie take the news?  Well, he’s biting his leather jacket, so I think we can assume he’s not going to be the first to shake their hands.  Miss Booth later articulates what most people (both staff and pupils) are probably thinking.  “It makes me want to cry just to think about it. They’re kids, they haven’t even started to live yet”.  Unsurprisingly everybody wonders if Jackie’s pregnant, but that’s not the case – these two crazy kids just seem to love each other … or think they do.

We’ve not seen Harriet for a while (a shame I know).  She makes a brief appearance here as Robbie, still reeling from the news about his sister and Zammo, seeks solace with the donkey.

Mr Scott’s latest science lesson with N3 seems to be going a good deal more smoothly now that Imelda is no longer part of the school community.  Everybody seems to be listening to him, well everybody except Trevor who’s attempting to get Vince to reveal the location of his secret den.

Not even Mrs McClusky can object to Calley’s horoscopes (since they offer such nuggets as “make sure your homework is handed in on time”).  Unfortunately some of the later ones go a little awry as the wrong introductory music means that they end up rather jumbled (Aquarius read out as Capricorn for example).  Ziggy was the unwitting recipient of a specially composed horoscope, designed to bolster his confidence ahead of his human fly act.

But Ziggy has a plan, one which means he doesn’t have to risk his neck.  He plans to do a Harold Lloyd and only pretend to scale the building – he plans to nip round the back of the building, dash up the fire escape and emerge on the roof – to receive the tumultuous applause that he no doubts believes is no more than his due.

But his scheme seems to have gone awry after he coolly informs the waiting crowds that he’s already planted his banner.  Since they can’t see it, it’s not surprising that they have trouble believing him.  Gonch and Trevor (unlikely bedfellows) are just preparing to duff him up when Mr Bronson comes haring round the corner, banner in hand, wondering why he saw it floating down from the assembly hall roof.  Ziggy’s delighted – even Mr Bronson’s anger doesn’t deflect from the fact that the others are not only silenced but are forced to pay up.

A slight damp squib of an ending then, in an episode which – Zammo and Jackie apart – feels curiously empty.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Fifteen

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Written by Sarah Daniels.  Tx 24th February 1987

Relationship woes kick off this episode.  Ronnie is sick of Gonch.  She still likes him, but she’s sick of him at the same time.  Meanwhile, Georgina and Ant continue to have communication issues.  She wants to talk about Imelda whilst he’s more interested in having a kickabout with Ziggy.

Although Georgina didn’t get very far discussing Imelda with Ant, she has a little more success with Helen.  Georgina wonders if Imelda was funny in the head or if she was just a bully.  This is the sort of debate it would have been good to have when Imelda was a member of the school, but better late than never I guess.

Imelda’s visits to a psychologist are brought up again and this theme is also touched upon later as Georgina and Helen – having got out of sports – ensconce themselves in the art room and decide to express their feelings through their artwork.  Miss Booth is intrigued and labels Helen’s work as showing “boredom and anger” whilst Georgina’s “suggests despair”.  How serious the girls were being is open to debate, but it’s a slightly unusual moment that presumably came straight from Sarah Daniels’ pen.

More characteristic of the series of a whole is Gonch’s desire to make money.  First he wonders if Calley’s horoscopes could be the answer – surely there must be a way to lay bets against them?  She’s not keen (as it doesn’t pay to mess with the future) so he turns his attention to Harriet.  It’s been a while since we’ve had a serious Donkey watch (her cameo in the previous episode doesn’t really count).  Gonch and Hollo offer to take Harriet for a walk, but what they really want to do is to offer donkey rides in the park ….

This episode also digs a little deeper into the personalities of Georgina and Helen.  Both tell Mrs Reagan that they’re not too fond of sports (which is odd to hear from Georgina, since she’s always been portrayed as a sporty type).  Mrs Reagan, keen to find out what they do like, will no doubt struggle to do anything with their suggestions though (snooker and rock climbing).

Trevor destroys Vince’s den.  It’s a mean and petty thing to have done and pushes Trevor back more into the bully persona he briefly adopted at the start of this series.  Vince isn’t happy.  “I’m going to mash his brainbox apart”.  He confronts Trevor but only gets a facefull of semolina for his pains.  Trevor seems keen to fill the void left by Imelda, needling Mr Scott in the canteen, although this episode it’s done in a subtle and non-confrontational way.  The question as to whether Mr Scott has finally won the respect of the class remains deferred for now.

Cheryl – who, lest we forget, favours healthy eating – is keen to establish an alternative canteen, offering a non-fat diet.  This is another of those plotlines that you know isn’t really going to go anywhere.

Banksie’s paranoia is healthy today.  He’s convinced that Mrs Reagan’s staring at him (even when she isn’t) and he continues to moan about his work experience placement.  He tells Laura that “clearing up after a bunch of weird kids” isn’t what he calls work experience and he’s convinced that it’ll be embarrassing.  But he heads off to Hazelrigg School anyway.

This is obviously set up to be a major character defining moment for Banksie.  His initial discomfort is plain to see as he stumbles into the dining room where the children are having their lunch (was the “hello” from one of the children scripted or a spontaneous outburst, I wonder?).  He’s rescued from his corridor wanderings by the wheelchair-bound Lucy (Leah Finch) who directs him to the headmistress’ office.  She may be confined to a wheelchair, but she’s also lively and articulate and so she (and her friend Perry) will help to educate him over the coming episodes.

Zammo continues to express embarrassment at Jackie’s desire to show off her engagement ring at every opportunity, so he’s probably not too disappointed when Mrs McClusky tells her to take it off (it’s against school policy to wear a ring on that finger).  Roland’s had quite a journey – from school outcast (1982) to wise sage (1987).  He joins Zammo for lunch and offers him his opinion.  A key moment occurs when Zammo admits that he doesn’t know why he’s getting married (“it just sort of happened”). Roland’s response seems to crystallise all the doubts that Zammo’s clearly been feeling for some time.

If I had to select my least favourite episode ending from series 10, then this one – Gonch, Hollo and Harriet hotfoot it out of the park, pursued half-heartedly by some shovel wielding park workers – would be high on the list.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Sixteen

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Written by Sarah Daniels.  Tx 27th February 1987

Continuity is a bit of a bugbear with me, so it slightly rankles that at the start of today’s episode Vince plugs a kettle into a socket down in his reconstructed den.  Yet a few episodes ago he told Gonch that making tea would be impossible since they’d need to plug a kettle in elsewhere and the trailing wire would bound to be seen.

Freddie, Cheryl and Roland are attempting to pull all the grievances expressed by the pupils into a single document.  That it’s still somewhat chaotic (complaints about the colour of the school diary is still high on the list) doesn’t suggest that their organisational skills are very good.  It’s also a telling moment that they’re quite happy for Miss Partridge to take their notes and type them up.  Can none of them type?  And whilst Miss Partridge obviously has their best interests at heart, she’s still “one of them” ….

We’re shortly heading into a direct confrontation between the staff and the pupils over the way the school is run.  It’s a pity though that these threads haven’t been developed more over the course of this year.  Compared, say, to SAG (from series two) it does feel somewhat undercooked.  The fact that Harriet has enjoyed a good deal more screentime is an example of strange priorities.

Louise is turning into something of a stroppy madam, skipping Mr Bronson’s French class because she can’t be bothered to attend.  It’s a pity then that she decides to lounge about in the corridor in plain sight, right where Mr Bronson can find her.

Banksie remains in a foul food, convinced that Mrs Reagan has scuppered his chances of success at Hazelrigg school although there’s no evidence for this.  His first assignment – tidying up their art room – isn’t terribly exciting, but exactly what did he expect to be doing on his first day?

After popping back to Grange Hill to vent his spleen, he returns to Hazelrigg for his afternoon stint.  His next task – posting some letters – doesn’t seem terribly exciting either, but Lucy and Perry (Jimmy Carr) tell him that they have to come as well and Banksie is required to ride to the post office in a wheelchair.  They’re lying of course, but this brief trip out is the first stage in Banksie’s development.  And playing snooker with Lucy (and the fact he gets beaten by her) only serves to strengthen his bond with the school

Donkey Watch.  Harriet’s not well and Helen is beside herself with worry.  Will Harriet live or die?  This is edge of the seat stuff, especially when an anxious Helen turns to the bible for comfort.

Ant’s presence throughout series ten has been somewhat superfluous.  Apart from his relationship with Georgina (which never seemed to go anywhere) his only other major contribution comes here – after he fouls Ziggy in a football match and instantly turns into a villain.  It’s such a feeble tackle that it’s hard to imagine how Ziggy managed to sustain so great an injury that he had to be stretchered off.  Maybe for once we can say that Ant’s been a little hard done by.

Gonch has worked out a way to gain revenge over Trevor – the Grange Hill ghost of course.  We’ve been here before (and we will again).  Will Trevor be stupid enough to fall for such an obvious trick?  Hmm …..

Grange Hill. Series Ten – Episode Seventeen

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Written by Chris Ellis.  Tx 3rd March 1987

Freddie, Julie, Ziggy, Robbie and Vince are heartened by a taped message from Danny in which he states that he’s doing well in Aberdeen.  But Roland, passing by, tells them that he’s heard – via Miss Partridge – that the truth is somewhat different.  Everybody’s worried about Danny’s progress (so presumably he’s just putting a brave face on for his friends).

That the others – especially Ziggy – choose not to believe Roland is telling.  Ziggy’s comment of “teachers” suggests that any information received from teachers must be misinformation.  This could tie into the general simmering discontent between pupils and staff, or it could be another example of Ziggy’s skewered judgement.

But at least Ziggy (staggering about on crutches after his not at all dramatic fall during the football match) is prepared to shake Ant’s hand and let bygones be bygones.  He’s the only one though as everybody else either gives Ant the silent treatment (Calley, Ronnie), makes an ironic joke (Gonch, Hollo) or calls him a villain (Freddie).  Poor Ant.  Since he doesn’t seem to be getting on too well at his new school (he mentions that most of his friends are still at GH) it’s plain that life’s not treating him well at present.

Donkey Watch.  The vet’s got good news … and bad news.  Harriet’s trip to the park (and a munch of the rhododendron bushes) has left her stomach a bit upset.  But she should make a full recovery.  Thank goodness.

Previously we were told that Imelda was the rotten apple of E3 and if she was removed then Mr Scott would be able to regain control of the class.  This isn’t how things have played out though – his affable persona from the canal trip seems to have dissipated and once again he’s hopelessly adrift as he allows the class to run riot.

Mr Scott’s proclamation that “the register is a legal document and must be taken twice daily” doesn’t have the reaction he hopes for.  His attempt to wrest the register from a previously unseen E3 girl ends up with Mr Scott scrabbling about on the floor.  With a complete loss of dignity and everybody (save Ronnie) jeering at him, this is by far his worst day at the office.

He then decides to re-establish his authority by placing any latecomers in detention, a fact which doesn’t please the very late Trevor.  Mr Scott then tries to win back E3 by telling them that he plans to let each of them organise the form tutorial.  Ronnie knows that this is a very bad idea … made even worse by the fact that Trevor will be first up.

Although Trevor’s somewhat intimidating during class (and also has been at various other points during S10) his hardman image always tends to get punctured very quickly – as demonstrated when Gonch tells him the story of the Grange Hill ghost.

Some old teacher from years ago. He used to beat kids ’till the blood run down his cane. Apparently he used to have lots of canes named after famous battleships. Then one day, one break it was, he mysteriously disappeared. There was no trace of him nor HMS Bismarck which he’d had in his hand when last seen. Maybe he went mad or some old kids from the school came back and murdered him. But everybody agrees about one thing. His spirit is not at rest. He still walks the corridors, with cane in his hand. People say they’ve heard HMS Bismarck swishing in the darkness and heard the cries of some ghostly victim.

A wonderfully delivered monologue by John Holmes, topped off by John Drummond’s increasing unease as the story becomes more and more bloodcurdling.  There may be a few things this year (hello Harriet!) which have irritated me, but this is comedy gold – and it’s something we’ll return to another time …

In some people’s eyes Miss Partridge has become too closely aligned to the pupils.  This is mentioned to her by Miss Booth – who’s never been as dogmatic as Mr Bronson (although she does possess something of a hard streak).  As for Mr Bronson himself, he is in no doubt that allowing the pupils a voice is the first step on a slippery slope.   “Pupil power is a mockery, not democracy. You cannot have power without responsibility”.

The meeting between staff and pupils doesn’t go well for the pupils.  And Miss Partridge doesn’t fare much better.  When Mrs McClusky and Mr Bronson learn that she assisted them in crafting their debating points, both of the senior teachers unite and turn on her (unusual to see them align in this way).  She storms off and the pupils aren’t far behind.  They’ve tried democracy and failed, although it’s debatable as to whether the staff, apart from Miss Partridge, were that interested in any of their points.

Even those you might class as ‘moderates’ – Miss Booth, Mrs Reagan – couldn’t seem to comprehend that secret profiles are a bad idea.  This seems slightly hard to believe, but the fact that the gang of four – Freddie, Julie, Cheryl and Roland – feel that they’ve been denied a voice via the democratic route means that alternative methods will have to be found ….

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Eighteen

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Written by Chris Ellis.  Tx 6th March 1987

Fay’s received her exam results and is somewhat disappointed – only one pass.  Miss Booth – attempting to pour oil on troubled waters – sees a silver lining.  Fay’s recently shown an aptitude for designing jewellery, so maybe her future lies in that direction.

Fay is understandably a little doubtful – turn a hobby into a full-time career?  It’s possibly not surprising that Miss Booth – an art teacher – is the one to suggest that academic qualifications aren’t the be all and end all.  Fay brightens a little when the teacher suggests they both take a stall at the upcoming craft fair, although as we’ll see, this is a plot point that’s been set up for a specific reason ….

The day when Trevor takes control of E3’s tutorial period has arrived and as might be expected it’s a car crash. Mr Scott bleats ineffectively in the corner that he has to take the register (because it’s a legal document) whilst Trevor rides roughshod over him.  Given Mr Scott’s surname (he’s been dubbed Selina by Trevor), it’s not a shock that Trevor decides to make Selina Scott his topic for discussion.  As the boy continues to needle away, there’s a sense that Mr Scott’s finally reaching his breaking point …

But then we cut away to the sixth form common room.  Boo!  They’re not happy with the way that the previous day’s meeting turned out (it’s interesting that once again Miss Partridge is present – she’s very much aligned herself with the pupils rather than her fellow staff members).

You can cut the tension with a cricket stump when Miss Booth pops her head around the door.  Miss Partridge and Miss Booth had something of a difference of opinion during yesterday’s meeting and now Miss Partridge seems slightly irked that Fay (on Miss Booth’s urging) wants to swop her current studies for a CPVE course which will allow her to concentrate on her creative side.  Both are too polite to shout at each other but Miss Partridge makes the point that “supporting the kids and their ideas is not necessarily an act of high treason against the staff”.

So we’re back with Trevor and Mr Scott.  The teacher continues to stare into the distance whilst Trevor, pacing around, is having a fine old time.  Eventually Mr Scott snaps and grabbing Trevor by his tie tells him that “I’m sick of your stupid behaviour, juvenile” before storming out.  Previous tutorials have seen everybody – bar Ronnie – acting up, but it’s noticeable that here only Trevor (and maybe Vince, slightly) indulged.  The rest of the class remained silent – which was especially powerful when Trevor (left with the field of battle) proclaimed that he was the winner (“wasn’t I?”).  A pyrrhic victory then.

The rest of the class, realising that Trevor’s gone too far, decide to behave in future.  This mirrors Mr Knowles’ storyline during S6, although that took place over the course of a single episode rather than eighteen.  But even if they all agree, what about Trevor?  Gonch’s plan to cut him down to size is continuing and the next part of his plan involves Calley reading a specially doctored horoscope over the airwaves ….

One twist with Mr Scott that we didn’t see with Mr Knowles is that the girls tell him they’ve decided to behave.  If they were expecting him to be grateful then they’re disappointed, as the humiliation he feels is palpable.

Banksie and Laura have a wonderful argument.  It all starts when he calls her mother two faced!  At least with Bronson, he says, you know where you stand.  Uh oh.

Freddie (whose radio persona seems to have solidified into a young Bruno Brookes) decides to broadcast some contentious material about the school handbook.  No surprise that Mr Bronson (rather wonderfully relaxing in a classroom, reading a bumper book about Steam Locomotives) isn’t at all happy.  In double quick team he reaches the studio, where he looms in a menacing fashion.  “Right, that is enough”.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen an angry Mr Bronson (not since his running battles with Ant last year).  He doesn’t shout at Freddie though – instead his fury is restrained, making it all the more menacing.  Freddie shrugs it off, but it’s plain that in this situation there’s only going to be one victor.

Donkey Watch.  And still the saga of Harriet rumbles on, seemingly a never-ending story.  She’s right off her food and not even the sweet nothings whispered by Mr Griffiths seem to do the trick.  Then Helen pops her head around the stable door for some more words of encouragement, but Harriet remains non-committal.

The manifestation of the Grange Hill ghost is wonderfully silly.  A definite highlight from series ten.

There’s another slice of muddy football action as Ant finds himself under attack from all sides.  Freddie continues to cast unfriendly glances in his direction, whilst Ant’s teammates are convinced he’s being soft on his former schoolfriends.  Even Ronnie (who lest we forget once had a crush on him) and Jane regard him as a traitor and – by association – Georgina.  This might have been a fruitful avenue to explore – Georgina’s love for Ant making her an outcast at Grange Hill – but it never was (mainly because at present Georgina rarely interacts with the likes of Calley, Ronnie and Jane).

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Grange Hill. Series Ten – Episode Nineteen

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 10th March 1987

Last time E3 resolved to stop giving Mr Scott a hard time.  Their resolution didn’t last very long though (another example of sloppy script-editing?) as here we see them – even Ronnie – refusing to come into registration.  The reason?  They’re obeying the rule in the staff handbook which states that “pupils must walk in the corridors at all times”.

This is a civil disobedience action which the whole school is indulging in.  But whilst the other teachers are quickly able to take order, Mr Scott remains as ineffectual as ever.  It takes a passing Mr McKenzie to crack the whip and restore the status quo – whilst his apology to Mr Scott (given the general level of anarchy he hadn’t realised a teacher was present) seems to be a further nail in the younger man’s coffin.

Mr Scott and Mr Kennedy have another staff-room heart to heart, which again consists of Mr Kennedy barely managing to keep his temper in check.  But finally Mr Scott seems to have made a breakthrough, as his science class – where he dissects a heart – captures everybody’s attention.

It’s an obvious touch that hardman Trevor would is the one to buckle at this sight (he rushes off to throw up) but the fact that Mr Scott, when given interesting material, is able to command the room offers hope for the future.  There are numerous reaction shots of both the regulars and extras, which helps to sell the fact that the lesson was a success.

Julia and Laura were pretty inseparable during S9 but that hasn’t been the case this year.  Mainly this is due to the fact that Laura was inexplicably absent for the first half of this series, but even now – when they’re both together – there’s a feeling of discord.  This is thanks to Mr Glover, who is keen to discover the ringleaders driving the work to rule campaign and elects to use Julia as a mole.  A skiing holiday is the carrot and Julia seems only too happy to betray her friends, including Laura.  This is an interesting wrinkle, just a pity that it couldn’t have been developed a little earlier (this is one storyline that might have benefitted from being spread across a number of episodes).

Gonch, Robbie and Hollo decide to follow another directive in the staff handbook, which states that skirts should be worn for cricket.  This allows Mr Bronson the chance to utter the following wonderful line.  “You boys in skirts. Come here!”.

Mrs McClusky only makes a brief appearance, but it’s a telling one.  She wonders if, given the general state of affairs, they should have listened more sympathetically to the grievances outlined by the pupils.  Mr Bronson characteristically disagrees – this anarchy must be crushed and crushed quickly.  Mrs McClusky (particularly in her early years) was always prepared to steamroller any opposition – is she mellowing in her old age?

Roland’s sponsored diet, in aid of the Danny Kendal fund, is a boon for Gonch and Hollo who – with a crushing sense of inevitability – are running a book on how much he’s going to lose.  And when Roland’s impressive weight loss starts to make them worry they might lose a fortune, it’s equally inevitable that they decide to nobble him (by dropping handfuls of chocolate bars into his bag).  The old Roland would have scoffed them down without a single thought but the new, improved Roland seems made of sterner stuff.

Banksie’s a hit at Hazelrigg Road, interacting with the children and impressing the staff, but the time he’s spending there seems to be impacting his relationship with Laura.  It’s only hinted at here, but it seems that it’s a place she has no wish to visit.  So when Banksie tells Lucy that he and Laura will be happy to escort her to the craft fair (which is in a wheelchair unfriendly building – hence the need for two people) it’s not to hard to guess the direction this storyline will take.

Donkey Watch.  Harriet’s still not well and even Helen’s baby talk doesn’t seem to be doing any good.  And after the donkey once again nibbles the bushes (“What will Mrs McClusky say?” wails Mr Griffiths, not for the first time) everybody’s forced yet again to ponder Harriet’s future.  Gonch believes that she’d be best off as cat food(!) but moving to the countryside (to a donkey sanctuary) sounds like a better bet.

Praise be!  A pity that this couldn’t have been done some fifteen episodes previously but I believe at long last there’s a light at the end of this interminable tunnel.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Twenty

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Written by Margaret Simpson.  Tx 13th March 1987

Laura isn’t keen on joining Banksie and Lucy at the craft fair, which somewhat annoys him.  It’s very noticeable that Mrs Reagan’s earlier antagonism towards Banksie has now totally dissipated – a pity that we didn’t see this thaw happen though (not for the first time events are taking place off-screen).

It’s initially not clear why Laura doesn’t want to go.  Is she tiring of Banksie or is Lucy the problem?  Laura later confides to Julia that Lucy – and specifically her disability – was the reason.  This isn’t something which reflects well on Laura, but it was inevitable that at least one character would have to articulate this viewpoint.

After expressing surprise that Lucy looked nice (“I thought she’d be twisted and, well, ugly”) Laura then goes on to list a whole litany of things which upset her.  “I can’t even stand people who are fat or ugly or who’ve got birthmarks or who limp or old women with bits of hair growing out of their chins. Can’t stand that”.  Crickey! Clearly Laura is only interested in perfection.

But if Lucy’s presence has highlighted all of Laura’s negative traits then it’s done the opposite for Banksie as working at Hazelrigg School has been a revelation for him.  He tells Lucy that it’s the first time he feels that he’s appreciated and treated like a human being.

Lucy continues to be a character with depths – we’re never invited to feel sorry for her, the fact that she’s disabled is a part of who she is but it’s not something which defines her.  In other ways she’s a typically mischievous teenager (keen to do a bit of shoplifting) and – like Calley and the others – is also interested in fashion and jewellery (both Lucy and Calley buy earrings from Fay’s stall at the craft fair).

Donkey Watch.  Harriet’s finally been offloaded to the donkey sanctuary in Essex which means that a weight has been lifted off Mr Griffiths’ shoulders (and I’m sure also from the viewers).  Helen is a bit teary but I’m sure she’ll get over it.  Bye, bye Harriet.

Ant and Georgina continue to glower at each other.  He’s not terribly pleased that she’s decided to spend her Saturday with Mr Griffiths, Helen and Harriet rather than him.  And when he’s not getting aggro from Georgina then some long-haired fellow pupils at St Josephs are also on hand to taunt him that he’s a Grange Hill lad at heart.  But the truth is that Ant doesn’t seem to be happy anywhere.

Ronnie and Gonch still seem to be a couple.  Their relationship – such as it is – has to be one of the most underdeveloped we’ve ever seen.

Julie’s choosing material for her bridesmaid’s dress, Jackie’s trying on bridal gowns, whilst Zammo’s tagging along – alternately sulking and viewing the assembled wedding paraphernalia with barely concealed horror.  It couldn’t be more obvious that he still believes that they’re rushing into marriage, but he lacks the courage to speak up.

If Zammo’s educational journey this year (he passed just about all his resits) seemed slightly unlikely (he never appeared to be a particularly gifted pupil) then Fay’s journey (she failed just about all of hers) was also slightly surprising.

The reasons are teased out in this episode as it appears that, despite the passage of time, she still hasn’t put Mr King behind her.  She’s mentioned him numerous times during the year which means that his appearance at the craft fair comes as something of a jolt.  First he encounters Miss Booth (also selling her wares) who tells him that Fay’s doing okay (the way he can’t meet her eyes is a telling moment – the guilt he feels is quite palpable).  Fay’s delighted to see him but less delighted when she realises that he’s come with a girlfriend in tow.  Mr King has moved on – new job, new relationship, new life – which only serves to reinforce how in comparison Fay has remained in stasis.

Part of her might have remained hopeful that he’d return and they’d pick up where they left off (a slim part maybe) but now she knows that’s impossible.  The camera is quick to pick up on this as Fay is given an extreme close-up at the exact moment when she realises the truth.  Poor Fay.  She’s somewhat been through the wringer during the past year, but this should hopefully serve as the wake-up call she so desperately needed.

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