Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 30th January 1981
What’s notable about this era of Grange Hill is that the pupils always seem to be campaigning about something. School uniform was an ongoing issue during series two, the outdoor centre was key to series three and already in series four we’ve had campaigns for common rooms, saving the school magazine and also protests about the cost of the new sports kit.
I wonder if this simply was a sign of the times (late seventies and early eighties Britain certainly had a militant atmosphere – there always seemed to be plenty of strikes and industrial disputes) or whether it’s due to the influence of series creator Phil Redmond. As the eighties wore on and Redmond’s influence lessened it’s notable that pupil militancy does seem to reduce – so maybe its safe to assume he was the driving force behind these plotlines.
Either way, this is yet another episode which is dominated by unhappy pupils – in this one its school dinners that they find it hard to stomach (as it were). No doubt this would have struck some chords with the viewers at home since school dinners of this era could be a grim affair.
There’s something of a feel of deja vu as Trisha again teams up with Susi and Pamela (both viewed as the enemy by Cathy) to try and harness support for their proposals. But an increasingly irritated Cathy decides to restart the banned SAG (student’s action group) in order to achieve change by force rather than reason.
Although the series was often criticised for having an anti-establishment atmosphere, there’s a very clear sense that order will prevail here. Cathy’s abortive attempt to harness support with SAG is quickly snuffed out (indeed, it would have been interesting to develop this thread over a couple of episodes) whilst the efforts of Trisha, Susi and Pamela are given tacit approval by Mrs McClusky.
Although she characteristically isn’t terribly pleased that they went ahead and distributed a questionnaire to staff and pupils without asking her permission!