Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 10th February 1981
After being a regular character during series two and three, Mark Edie (who played Andrew Stanton) had a much lower profile during series four with only a handful of appearances. This might have been his own choice, since for some actors real-life pressures like exams have to take precedence. But whilst his series four episodes are limited he’s given a central role in this one.
It also neatly links back to events witnessed earlie on the run, when we saw that Andrew’s sister Karen was visibly upset. The relationship between Andrew and Karen’s parents had been established as a rocky one right from the time Andrew was introduced – and now it’s finally imploded. His father has left home, taking Karen with him and it’s Mrs Stanton’s inability to tell her son the truth which pushes him over the edge.
Failed marriages are now such a staple of television drama that they tend to be accepted as the norm, but that wouldn’t have quite been the case back in 1980. Although we don’t often see both parents of many of the pupils (there is, presumably, a Mr Jenkins and a Mrs Humphries but they remain firmly off-screen) it can be assumed that pretty much all the children live in two-parent families. A one-parent family is therefore unusual (although as the series progresses through the eighties and nineties they’ll become much more common).
Andrew’s choice of oblivion is alcohol – which hasn’t really been touched upon in the series. It’s a shame that he wasn’t a regular during this year as developing his addiction to alcohol over the course of a number of episodes would have been very effective. As it is, he suddenly becomes a drinker and then just as suddenly stops.
His inebriated state is a problem for Tucker, Alan, Tommy and Justin. Tommy’s happy to leave him, but Tucker knows the trouble Andrew would be in if he was found, so decides they have to help. There then follows a series of frantic scenes as the four of them attempt to hide Andrew’s unconscious body in various parts of the school – resorting to such wheezes as placing him on a trolley and wheeling him around!
Eventually Mrs McClusky apprehends Tucker, but when she learns of the reason why they’ve all been skipping classes she’s inclined to be lenient (a rare example of compassion from her).
Two other points of interest. Firstly, Alan pops along to the smokers room (a store-cupboard) and seems on the point of accepting a cigarette. So much for his claim that he’d never smoke again in the previous episode. And Tucker’s growing interest in Pamela Cartwright runs through the episode, but the normally confident Tucker is completely tongue-tied when it comes to asking her out!