Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 19th January 1979
Simon’s rather upset to be dropped from the school football team by Mr Baxter. He’s not able to give a reason why he missed a recent practice session – there was a notice put up, said Baxter, couldn’t he read? As Simon reacts angrily to this (plus the other hints we’ve had in earlier episodes) we can surmise this is uncomfortably close to the truth.
Tucker decides to cheer him up by initiating him into his gang, the Tremblers (this is obviously something that Tucker’s created on the spur of the moment). In order to become a member, Tucker tells him he has to climb up to the top of the school tower. Simon says he”ll do it, provided he sees the others do it first. All goes well until Mr Garfield discovers them and, not realising that Benny had already reached the top of the tower, locks him in.
Mr Garfield (Graham Ashley) was the first in Grange Hill’s long line of put-upon caretakers, and many of them followed the Garfield archetype (bad-tempered and irritable). Sadly, Ashley died in 1979 at the age of only 52 – with his final appearances as Mr Garfield airing the year after his death, in 1980. He had a very solid acting career with plenty of guest-spots in popular series (such as Porridge, Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Colditz and The Avengers) and was a regular in Dixon of Dock Green, although most of his episodes were wiped. Another notable credit was as Gold Five in the first Star Wars movie.
More excuses from Simon in Mr Sutcliffe’s English class – he says he can’t read as he feels sick. This break from lessons allows Simon to release Benny from the tower, but he pretends to Tucker that he couldn’t – ensuring that the others decide to return to the school in the evening to free him.
Simon’s practical joke (involving a skeleton and a candelabra!) backfires spectacularly when it accidentally causes a fire. The “flipping ‘ecks” are liberally sprinkled about as Tucker, Alan and Benny “leg it” but they don’t realise that Simon hasn’t followed them. He’s tripped over a cable and knocked himself out – leaving us on a decent cliff-hanger as the other three worry that he might be in some danger.