Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode One

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Written by Chris Ellis. Tx 5th January 1988

This episode saw the debut of a new title sequence and a re-arranged version of Chicken Man. Although both moves might have upset some old-timers, you can’t really argue that it wasn’t overdue. The original titles may have been iconic, but they always looked rather old fashioned, even back in the seventies. The new titles are more frenetic (Phil Cool, remember him?) but not as distinctive. In some respects they seem like a placeholder between the originals and the more successful nineties efforts.

A new group of first years are rapidly introduced. For those who like to compare the new arrivals to old boys and girls (looking for archetypes) then Chrissy Mainwaring (Sonya Kearns) and Susi Young (Lynne Radford) fit very nicely as the new Trisha/Cathy, Fay/Annette or Calley/Ronnie. Throw in Justine Dean (Rachel Victoria Roberts) as a fashion rebel very similar to Trisha and it’s plain that – to begin with – the series was treading familiar ground with these new characters.

But Matthew Pearson (Paul Adams) and Clarke Trent (Darren Cudjoe) are hardly in the mould of Tucker/Alan, Zammo/Jonah or Gonch/Hollo. Matthew is positioned more as a Justin Bennett type – a fish out of water at Grange Hill – whilst poor Clarke (you possibly won’t be surprised to learn that he receives a few Superman jibes) seems to exist mainly to line feed his new friend.

Our first sight of Matthew sees him looking longingly at the comfort and security of home from the back seat of his mother’s car as she drives him and his sister to school. If the point that he’s an unwilling new pupil needs to be hammered home, then luckily his annoying younger sister is on hand to tell him exactly what awaits him (namely that his head will be shoved down the toilet on a regular basis!).

For the loveable bad-boy quotient, you have to look to Tegs Ratcliffe (Sean Maguire). Out of the newcomers, Tegs makes the most immediate impression. Grange Hill might have had its fair share of tearaways in the past, but Tegs is a little unusual. He’s sold to us as a positive character, even though his background is a dubious one (his family are comprised of unsuccessful petty criminals whilst he’s already racked up an impressive criminal record as well).

In time we’ll see how the isolated Tegs forms a bond with Justine which – again – is an uncommon move for the series. It wasn’t totally unheard of (Trisha and Simon Shaw for example, or Duane and Tracy/Clare) but those examples demonstrate that friendships between first year boys and girls hadn’t happened for some time.

Series eleven also saw the introduction of Mr Robson (Stuart Organ). He was by far the longest serving cast member (notching up 264 episodes) although I doubt few would have predicted back in 1988 that he would become such a fixture (he eventually left in 2003, shortly after the show relocated to Liverpool).

A few older pupils suddenly pop up without warning later on this year (an occasional hazard at this school). Fiona Wilson (Michelle Gayle) slots in neatly with the other fourth form girls whilst Mauler McCaul (Joshua Fenton) and Ted Fisk (Ian Congdon-Lee) initially exist solely to cause grief to the younger pupils.

Fair to say that Mauler’s not exactly a bully in the Gripper class (or even Imelda, come to that). He’s played much more for laughs with Ted operating as his even dimmer sidekick. But for those prepared to stick with the series, Ted’s character will undergo something of a transformation in the years to come …..

The opening few minutes plays out in a predictable way as we see various characters making their way to school – some willingly, some not. The old hands – Ziggy and Robbie – are quite casual whilst some of the younger pupils – like Susi – are more anxious. Luckily, she’s got a confident friend in Justine, who tells her that the horror stories she’s heard (about getting beaten up and having her dinner money pinched) are all rubbish. Justine’s positive attitude is therefore shown to be in sharp contrast to Matthew’s more negative viewpoint (like Susi he seems to think that everybody’s looking at him – hence the way he flinches when his mother attempts to give him a goodbye kiss).

It’s an old trick, but during these early scenes with Matthew, the camera is placed low – at his level – which makes the sudden arrival into the frame of Trevor and Vince (keen to make Matthew’s first day extra special) a little more impactful. A pity that Paul Adams seems to be registering amusement more than fear during this scene, but no doubt this was down to inexperience (although he did have a few credits prior to GH).

A few golden oldies from years gone by are given another airing – such as when Trevor and Ziggy send the first years the wrong way to the assembly hall. Another rehash from the first episode back in 1978 finds Matthew left alone in the assembly hall (everyone else has been assigned a form apart from him). Whilst this is almost certainly an intentional homage, it’s probably not a moment tailored for long term fans. Indeed, GH‘s core audience was no doubt self-renewing (new ones joining as the older ones moved on to the likes of EastEnders) so this would have seemed fresh to most of the viewers.

Both Chrissy and Justine seem to be channelling Trisha Yates. Chrissy has an overbearing older relative also at the school (in her case, Freddie) whilst Justine has a highly relaxed attitude to school uniform, which is sure to get her into trouble.

Poor Freddie is bereft to learn that Julia won’t be coming back to Grange Hill. Sorry? Considering the way that he’s burned his way through the female population at GH, it’s hard to take his sorrowful persona very seriously. But with Julia gone (and Banksie too) that leaves the way open for Freddie and Laura to hook up …..

Mr Robson lays down a marker with E4 right from the moment he first walks into the room. With a stentorian rant, he instantly silences them (easy to see that he’s not going to be a walkover like Mr Scott last year).

Mr Bronson and Danny pick up where they left off. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m growing older, but I now find it much easier to side with Mr Bronson than I do with Danny. The boy’s clearly aggrieved at being kept down a year, but since – due to his illness – he’s missed a considerable amount of coursework it’s easy to see why the decision was taken. Unlike his earlier targeting of Zammo and Ant, there doesn’t seem to be any malice – at present – from Mr Bronson’s side of the table.

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Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Two

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Written by Chris Ellis. Tx 8th January 1988

Freddie’s continuing to play the lovesick martyr. Positioning himself at a handy point on the route to school, he presents an abject picture of misery as Laura and Louise pass by. It’s all part of his master plan to ensnare Laura of course (quite why he’s suddenly decided that Laura is the only girl for him is a mystery). His cunning ways weren’t well received by his younger sister earlier on though. Chrissy tells him that he’s “disgusting” before stomping off to school by herself! Laura’s well aware of the game he’s playing, but she’s content to let him carry on for now. There’s a vague element of humour here, but it’s all rather laboured.

Matthew and Clarke’s friendship continues to bloom. Matthew seems to have decided that Grange Hill isn’t as bad as he’d feared …. and that’s when Mauler McCaul turns up. Like the rest of his gang, he roams the school corridors in full American football gear (like Freddie’s moping this seems less than credible) looking for vulnerable youngsters to use as a ball. Is this going provide us with S11’s Harriet the Donkey moments? Hopefully it gets, ahem, kicked into touch soon.

A little more dramatic meat is provided by a continuing spate of thefts. Miss Booth – with no evidence – seems to believe that Tegs is responsible whilst the new head of the first year – Mrs Reagan – seems much more relaxed about the whole affair. So far we’ve seen very little of Tegs, although we’ve heard quite a lot about him. Most of the accounts have been negative – meaning that his card already seems to have been marked by some of the teachers (especially Miss Booth who, despite her free and easy air, has been shown in the past to be rather dogmatic and inflexible). That his character has been sharply defined in his absence is an interesting touch – the question is, will he live up to these low expectations?

Gonch still hasn’t given up on his money-making exercises (even if his right-hand man Hollo has disappeared – never to be spoken of again). This episode he’s giving the first years a guided tour of the building and, complete with his rolled up umbrella, he’s the epitome of a cheerful tour guide. The moment when he introduces Mr Griffiths as one of Grange Hill’s finest ancient moments is a proper laugh-out-loud moment.

That pair of juvenile delinquents – Tegs and Justine – find their relationship developing. Both are cooling their heels outside Mrs McClusky’s office – Tegs because of his poor attendance (and it’s only day two) and Justine because of her shocking pick blouse.

There’s a cracking cliffhanger. Laura returns home to find out the reason why her mother has had in a spring in her step recently. She’s got a new boyfriend, the oily, moustachioed Simon (Peter Meakin). His opening line is a classic. “So this is the lovely Laura. But not quite as lovely as her mother”. I think the way he rubs the back of Mrs Reagan’s neck whilst saying this is what makes the moment just a little off-putting.

I think we’re going to have trouble with this new arrival ….

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Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Three

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Written by David Angus. Tx 12th January 1988

It’s surprising that Ronnie and Gonch’s on-off relationship still seems to be just about on (I’d have assumed she would have dumped him by now). It’s the same old story from last year – she’s constantly exasperated that he never shows her any attention (mini-mogul Gonch is too concerned about where his next fortune is coming from).

Calley’s interest in all things astrological is still one of her main character traits. This has been constant since she first appeared in 1985 – which is either decent continuity or a sign that, as yet, nobody’s been able to think of anything better to do with her. Her latest fad is reading bumps – although Jane suddenly becomes less keen to be her guinea pig after Ronnie acidly tells her that it looks as if Calley’s checking for nits ….

Vince is always keen though (and keen to believe) so when Calley tells him that his bumps suggest he’s due a close encounter with something or someone from America he swallows it hook, line and sinker. Calley isn’t being deliberately malicious – it’s simply that other people’s expectations are greater than her own competence. And what does Trevor think of it all? He’s not impressed.

Although Vince and Trevor briefly teamed up in the first episode, they’ve now regressed to their more combative S10 personas – with Trevor keen to ridicule Vince at every opportunity. But some of Trevor’s sting has been drawn by the arrival of Mr Robson (a teacher that he finds impossible to bait in the same way as Mr Scott). This episode Trevor has regained his posse of silent hangers-on. He briefly had a similar in the previous series, but they vanished after an episode or two.

Helen and Georgina had a brief walk-on appearance in episode one, but this is the first time this series that we’ve been able to get reacquainted with them. Imelda might be long gone, but the remaining members of the Terrahawks still possess a sense of mischief (albiet playful, rather than malicious). Georgina dares Helen to tell Mr Bronson the true reason why her homework is incomplete (she was watching a good film starring Clint Eastwood) and Helen duly obliges. This scene was an obvious gift for Michael Sheard – the way that Mr Bronson slowly and unbelievably repeats the words “Clint Eastwood” are worth the price of admission alone.

Helen then dares Georgina to drop something into the lunchtime baked beans. She duly obliges with a bottle of salt and the inevitable hilarity ensues when some Louise later asks for beans and is less than impressed with her salty fare.

Ziggy and Robbie, like Gonch, are strapped for cash – so Robbie suggests a merger. Neither Ziggy or Gonch are keen, but eventually they agree. With three great business brains now working together in perfect harmony, what can possibly go wrong? Let’s wait and see.

Madeline Church makes her first appearance as Miss Stone, a fairly background teacher who appears throughout this series and a few episodes of the next. Miss Stone is keen as mustard to join Mrs Reagan’s keep fit class, whilst Mrs McClusky and Miss Booth are far less enthused (although eventually they’re shamed into attending). Gonch, Ziggy and Robbie – already debating how to make their first fortune – decide to stay in the gym and spy on them.

This is an odd little scene, although it doesn’t seem to be that the boys are perving (they’re simply being mischievous, I think). Their wonderful hiding place? Inside the vaulting horse, of course. Everything’s going swimmingly until the teachers leave and Mr Griffiths locks the gym!

The school disco is still going and there’s a sense that the series is attempting to keep up with the times when Ronnie asks the DJ to pop a hip-hop track on. This meets with the approval of Fiona (Michelle Gayle). From small acorns to the birth of Fresh ‘n’ Fly. The Hip-Hop advisor for the series was the late Mike Allen, at the time a DJ on Capital Radio.

Mr Griffiths is supplied with some top comedy moments – baffled at Calley’s head readings (convinced that she’s checking the others for nits), grumbling at the way his screwdrivers keep getting pinched and (of course) pursuing Gonch, Ziggy and Robbie around the school. He seems to have forgotten that he and Ziggy were allies last year, meaning that they’ve slipped back into their old roles.

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Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Four

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Written by David Angus.  Tx 15th January 1988

Mrs Reagan is driving her daughter to school.  She comments approvingly that Matthew’s mother has dropped him off a street away from the gates (and also wonders if eventually she’ll detach him from her apron strings totally and let him catch the bus).  Of course, since she’s driving Laura to school this seems like an odd double standard.

Laura’s face is still set in the same expression she’s worn whenever she’s been in her mother’s company recently.  Think of someone sucking a lemon and you won’t be too far from the mark.

Helen and Georgina’s latest dare is to kiss all the boys in the playground.  This causes old-before-her-time Ronnie to tut in a disapproving manner whilst Ziggy is sanguine about the fact that girls are always throwing themselves at him!  Wisely they both decide to give Danny a wide birth – he’s still radiating despair and irritation at being pushed down a year.  He doesn’t pull his punches when Mrs McClusky innocently asks him how he’s getting on.  “The staff don’t know whether to treat me as an invalid or retarded”.

Danny’s returned to his series nine persona.  An uncommunicative individual, unwilling to accept that any of the school rules relate to him.  The first stirrings of the later conflict between Danny and Mr Bronson can be seen after the senior teacher discusses the boy’s wandering ways with Mr Robson.  Mr Bronson believes that they can no longer put his erratic behaviour down to his illness as he’s – apparently – now fully recovered.

Having forgotten his PE kit, Gonch is forced to borrow a strip from Mr Robson.  This leads to a lightbulb moment as he tells a slightly nonplussed Robbie and Ziggy that they should run a PE reminder service (and offer to hire out strips for anybody who forgets to bring theirs).  The only flaw in this wonderful scheme is that Mr Robson already supplies kit – for free – to anybody who’s forgotten to bring their own, so why should anybody pay for the privilege?

Mauler and his ridiculous crew are once again roaming the school corridors, looking for pint-sized first years to use as American footballs.  Tegs seems like the obvious choice but a militant Justine is having none of it.  He finds it hard to say thank you though – as a loner the words don’t come easy – but Justine continues to shadow him nonetheless.  Clearly there’s something about Tegs (his thieving ways?) which fascinates her.  He later shows his gratitude in a non-verbal way.  This is a moment clearly set up to later address Teg’s fondness for taking things which don’t belong to him.

Meanwhile, Matthew’s absent father (he’s working aboard at a secret location apparently) continues to be an object of innocent interest for the others.  It’s plain that there’s rather more to this than meets the eye as Matthew may be many things, but a fluent liar he isn’t.  Possibly this is connected to his, as yet, unspecified home-life issues.

Fiona and Ronnie now venture further afield for their ration of hip-hop tunes.  They’ve gone to a local club, where they run into Danny who’s painting a mural on the wall.  Fiona is keen to get up on stage and perform, and her hip-hop ambitions intrigue the other two – even Danny, who’s rarely shown an interest in anything this year.  Ronnie’s blossoming friendship with Fiona has started to isolate her from her long-term friend Calley, although this means that Jane – reduced during the last few series to a character with only a handful of lines – has now moved slightly more into prominence (she’s now operating as Calley’s confidant).

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Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Five

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Written by David Angus.  Tx 19th January 1988

The great PE kit reminder service is in full swing and to assist the process, school equipment (namely the computer and printer) is being pressed into service by Gonch and the others.  There’s nothing so evocative as the sound of a dot matrix printer printing inexorably slowly, whilst it’s interesting to see that Grange Hill still uses BBC B’s.  It’s odd though that back in the heyday of the BBC computer (say 1983) Grange Hill never took the opportunity to utilise them in order to generate a spot of sneaky product placement.  Barbara Thorn, later that year to join The Bill as Inspector Frazer, makes a brief appearance as the computer studies teacher.

It does look like Mauler McCall and his rubbish Grid Iron Crew will be providing this years Harriet the Donkey moments.  They pursue Tegs around the school in a “comedy” chase before deciding to tie Ziggy up.  Ziggy declares that Mauler won’t be laughing for too much longer, but considering the eons it took for him and Robbie to gain revenge over Imelda, I won’t be holding my breath …..

Some of the first years dress up as people from different points in history.  Chrissy isn’t happy with her clothes, but Susi likes what she’s been given to wear.  Although it’s the boy dressed as a Viking (complete with a helmet sporting two very large horns) which really catches the eye.  Whilst Chrissy is out front – glowering – Matthew’s ever increasing web of lies is becoming more obvious.  He’s told Clarke that he’s due to fly to Amsterdam for the weekend with his father, but has trouble in remembering which airport they’re going to use.  Matthew’s habitual storytelling is gently teased out during these early episodes – it’s a signifier that the boy is unhappy, but the reason behind his tall tales remains nebulous at present.

Miss Stone and Mrs McClusky later debate Matthew’s weekend trip, with Mrs McClusky deciding that Matthew could be going to Amsterdam, although it seems unlikely (she declares that it’s rather grand).  Given that the journey from London to Amsterdam is hardly a lengthy one (223 miles) and wouldn’t have been that expensive, this seems like a slightly odd statement to make.

Stephen Churchett’s an actor with one of those faces that you know, but you just can’t remember exactly where you’ve seen him (he’s got a lengthy track record though – from Up Pompeii! in 1970 to EastEnders in 2015).  Today, he’s playing an Education Welfare Officer who is on the hunt for the absent Danny, but is equally happy to snag a truanting Trevor.  Trev, thinking on his feet for once, gives him Vince’s name instead of his own.  Mind you, since the Welfare Officer later gives Mr Bronson a description of “Vince” it’s maybe not as clever as he first thought.

Robbie’s delighted with the way the strip hire business is going, telling Ziggy that they’ll be laughing all the way to the Leeds.  A cultural reference which would have made sense at the time, although is possibly more obscure now.

Old GH hands may find the next scene a little familiar.  Mauler’s suddenly taken an unhealthy interest in Calley but avenging knight Robbie happens to be passing by and isn’t impressed.  This seems to be a definite echo of Gripper’s obsession with Claire (Stewpot, of course, was her knight in shining armour).  But the 1988 love triangle is less effective, mainly because Mauler – a very underdeveloped character anyway – has never shown any interest in Calley before.  Neither has Robbie, it has to be said, but it seems obvious that they’ll become an item soon.  I wonder if Calley’s horoscopes have foretold this?!

Joshua Fenton, as Mauler, pulls some extraordinary faces when Mauler confronts Robbie.  Compared to Gripper (or even Imelda) I’m afraid that Mauler is a very second-division heavy.  He may spout plenty of threats, but there’s no sense that – unlike Gripper or the even more unhinged Booga – he’s actually dangerous.

Things you wouldn’t see today …. Georgina’s latest dare involves her covering her face with yellow food dye and giving us her best Chinese impression.  “Ah so”.  Also appearing in the cookery scene is Susan Field as Mrs Evans.  Like Stephen Churchett. she’s an actor who you might instantly recognise (she was active between 1961 and 2000) even if you can’t name too many of her credits off the top of your head.  SF fans might remember her from the first Blakes 7 episode, The Way Back, where she played the conniving Alta Morag.

The saga of Mr Robson’s missing motorcycle helmet rumbles on throughout the episode. It’s eventually discovered in Mauler’s locker, although he didn’t pinch it (Tegs – looking to gain revenge – framed him).  Mauler’s reaction when he finds it is priceless – pricelessly bad that is.   He opens his mouth wide like a gaping fish.  This is supposed to be shock I guess, but it appears to be another example of bad acting.  Since Fenton will be a regular in the series until the end of series thirteen, I hope he improves soon.  Rather better fare can be found when a desperate Ziggy tries every trick in the book to stop Mr Bronson from inspecting his locker.  He’s innocent of stealing the helmet, but explaining all the PE kits he’s got stashed away might be difficult ….

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Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Six

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Written by David Angus.  Tx 22nd January 1988

The Grid Iron crew have been corralled to Mrs McClusky’s office.  As always, Gwyneth Powell is never more delightful than when we see Mrs McClusky turn on the sweetness.  Her feigned surprise at how Mauler and the others play a non-curriculum sport without a ball is nicely done.

Matthew’s dropped back to school after his weekend with his father (played by the non-speaking Bunny Losh).  So Matthew’s father is presented as little more than an intimidating presence – it’s Matthew himself who has to fill in all the blanks.  But considering the lies he’s continuing to spread (there was a strike, he tells Clarke, so they couldn’t go to Amsterdam but ended up touring the Lake District instead) it’s hard to believe anything he says anymore.  Especially when he mentions to Clarke that the Lake District is in Wales.

For once, Mauler and the others take part in a well choreographed comic scene.  Mr Griffiths has gone to the library in order to replace a lightbulb and after climbing the stepladder, he’s able to spot Mauler and his crew forceably “interviewing” a younger pupil.  After Mr Griffiths shouts out, they all quickly grab books from the nearest shelves and adopt poses of innocence!

Mr Robson is certainly a different character from the departed Mr Baxter.  Mr Baxter’s raison detre was to ensure that Grange Hill scooped up as many sports titles as possible – he was never happier than when his teams were crushing opposing schools into the ground.  Mr Robson’s vision of sport revolves around inclusiveness (ensuring that everybody gets a chance to shine) which means that he’s set on a collision course with Freddie, the first team captain, who believes that winning is everything.

Matthew sticking his fingers down his throat in order to make himself throw up is a disturbing image (which thankfully occurs just offscreen).  But it’s another indication that there’s something badly wrong with him (many children aren’t keen to do games, but don’t tend to go to those lengths).  In the girl’s changing rooms, Susi is equally unwilling to get changed, but she doesn’t act up so dramatically.  She’s simply uncommunicative, even brushing off Mrs Reagan’s delicate suggestion that it might be her time of the month.

Again, those with long GH memories might recall that Annette’s reluctance to get undressed during S7 was due to the fact that her body was bruised from physical abuse meted out by her mother.  Either Matthew or Susi could be in the same boat – with Matthew, due to his history of erratic behaviour, looking the more likely victim.

Fiona and Ronnie decide on a name for their hip-hop venture – Fresh ‘n’ Fly.  They meet in Ronnie’s bedroom in order to work on their masterpiece, but aren’t too impressed when Gonch comes calling.  They send him away, although Ronnie feels a pang of conscience afterwards.  But, as Fiona tells him, since Gonch only bothers with her when he feels like it, she shouldn’t feel too bad.  And after being slightly discomforted by Ronnie’s rebuff, Gonch is quite happy talking to Mrs Birtles (Angela Crow), especially when she starts dishing out the tea and cakes.

Mrs Reagan’s new beau, Simon, continues to irritate Laura.  Mind you, it’s hard not to feel slightly creeped out after he tells her that he wasn’t academically inclined at school – instead he spent most of his time watching the girls play tennis.  It’s when he then asks Laura if she plays tennis that you can’t help but squirm a little.  But Simon’s leering and boorish behaviour doesn’t seem to bother Laura’s mother, who locks lips with him as soon as her daughter exits the room.  Cue Laura standing by the door, looking on disapprovingly ….

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Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Seven

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Written by Sarah Daniels. Tx 26th January 1988

The episode opens with a rare sighting of Justine’s elder sister, Tracey (Penny-Belle Fowler). Since Justine has more than an echo of Trisha about her – today she’s once again straining against the limits of school uniform – had Tracey been a regular, then like Trisha’s sister – Carol – she could have been used to tease out other aspects of Justine’s character.

I’m afraid that Mauler and his Grid Iron crew are still infesting the school corridors. After haranguing Matthew for the crime of bringing a briefcase to school, they’re distracted by Tegs, who throws a water bomb directly into Mauler’s face. Once again his reaction is horribly overplayed and yet another “comedy” chase ensues. The most interesting part of the scene is the way it demonstrates how Tegs is completely at home moving through the nooks and crannies of the school (his small frame makes it easy for him to enter the ventilation ductings).

But this time, Mr Bronson is tugged into their orbit. After Mr Bronson views the out-of-order staff toilet with disfavour, we later see Tegs duck into the children’s urinals. Mauler and the others, hot on his heels, follow him in and prepare a series of water balloons to surprise the occupant of the locked cubicle, who turns out to be …. Mr Bronson. No, really.

Obvious though it is, this is still a decent payoff – the sight of a water-soaked Michael Sheard, complete with a distressed wig, is a lovely one. Even better is to come as Mr Bronson – a towel around his head – creeps into the staffroom. Only Mrs Reagan is there to begin with (reading a poetry anthology – Lovers Nosegay) but then Mrs McClusky walks in. Mr Bronson, caught behind the door, freezes and then delicately tip toes out of the room. That’s more like it, a nicely handled comedy moment which helps to erase the non-acting of the Grid Iron crew.

Indeed, having not featured a great deal this year, Sarah Daniels’ first 1988 script is a decent one for Mr Bronson. Post soaking, he has to deal with the sniggers of his fifth form French class (passing around notes that he’s wet himself) although the arrival of Justine, carrying a note for Laura from her mother, gives him the chance to reassert his authority. Was it scripted, or an involuntary reaction from Rachel Victoria Roberts, that Justine responds with a smirk after Mr Bronson booms at her? The latter, I think.

Tegs and Justine head out to the local café for a spot of lunch. En route, Justine spies a clothes shop and goes to investigate. Tegs, keen to please her, shoplifts a scarf she had her eye on. Before he reveals his unconventional present, Tegs tells her about his home life – a mother who left home when he was five, a father in and out of prison and an older brother currently in youth custody. When he tells her that his father was banged up when his mother left them, Justine asks him if he means hospital. This is either a signifier that Justine is more innocent than her streetwise persona might suggest or it’s designed to make Tegs’ situation crystal clear to the younger viewers.

Tegs explains his burglary modus operandi. As touched upon before, GH has had its fair share of criminally inclined children, but it’s always been made clear sense that eventually they would have to face up to the consequences of their actions. Tegs’ unrepentant, unabashed character feels different – mainly because he’s neither portrayed as an inherently “bad” person or a “good” one who’s temporarily gone off the rails. For him, this sort of life seems perfectly normal.

Helen’s latest dare involves her getting a tattoo ….

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