Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 8th March 1978
This is a rather nice episode, played mainly for laughs, which centres on Trisha and her well-intentioned efforts to help Mr Rankin (Blake Butler). Mr Rankin teaches biology and Trisha has recently taken to helping him tidy his lab in the lunch-breaks. Her sister teases her that it’s because she has a crush on him – something Trisha vehemently denies.
When Judy pops in, Trisha grandly tells him that she’s Mr Rankin’s assistant. Judy asks if she can hold the hamster and Trisha, against her better judgement, agrees. Naturally, the animal escapes and then the problems really begin.
In trying to find it, they overturn a bookcase, before Judy hits on the bright idea of buying another hamster at the local pet shop to replace it. There then follows a race-against-time, which doesn’t work out quite as intended (Judy is distracted when buying the animal and doesn’t notice that the one chosen by the assistant is a different colour!)
It’s all for nothing anyway, since when Mr Rankin returns he spots the original hamster on the floor. But he’s inclined not to punish them, since they did make an effort to rectify the problem. Trisha’s in trouble anyway though, thanks to a run-in with another teacher, Miss Clarke (Jill Dixon). She objects to Trisha wearing jewellery in the lunch-time, which irritates the girl no end.
It’s the first stirrings of Trisha’s constant battles against authority over what she sees as the erosion of her basic freedoms and we’ll come back to similar themes time and again over the next few series.