Grange Hill. Series Four – Episode Seventeen

grange hill s04e17

Written by Alan Janes. Tx 24th February 1981

This episode is the first time that Gripper moves centre-stage and it gives us a taste of what to expect from him in the years to come.

Pogo’s latest money-making wheeze is a homework service (for which he naturally makes a handy profit).  He shares the work with Duane and also tries to rope in Matthew Cartwright (Nicholas Pandolfi) to help.  Matthew’s having none of it though and I do get the feeling this is because he senses Pogo’s scheme is doomed to failure.  There’s something so incredibly earnest about Pandolfi’s performance which makes it rather entertaining – never a central character, he’ll nevertheless pop up regularly during series five.

Gripper’s keen to avail himself of Pogo’s service and it’ll come as no surprise to learn that he doesn’t expect to pay.  Pogo weighs up the pros and cons of doing Gripper’s homework for free, worrying that if he does then he’ll have to do it for the next five years!  In the end he decides to do it all wrong and adds some ink-blots and scribbling out for extra effect.  You have to wonder if Pogo has a death-wish as it’s obvious what’s going to happen – but although he begins to have second thoughts there’s no time to change it.

Miss Mooney, always one of Grange Hill’s most mild-mannered teachers, is appalled at Gripper’s homework and tells the uncomprehending boy that he’s in a lot of trouble.  After the bell goes we see Pogo hot foot it out of the classroom and although he’s built very much more for comfort than speed, he does manage to cover the ground at an impressive rate.

But Gripper does catch up with him eventually and the pair manage to wreck the common room, breaking several windows before Mr Hopwood separates them.  It’s no surprise that Mrs McClusky is appalled, since she’s been waging a campaign on vandalism and hooliganism all term and this action simply strengthens her resolve to reintroduce school uniform.

It’s interesting that it was made optional back in series two following a school referendum.  The autocratic Mrs McClusky never seems to consider that the pupil’s opinions are important – the governors agree that reintroduction would be a good idea and the PTA are also in favour, so that means that school uniform is back.

Trisha pops up at the end to harangue Pogo.  If he hadn’t had the fight with Gripper then Mrs McClusky wouldn’t have had the pretext to push her proposal past the PTA.  Although as uniform remains optional for the fourth, fifth and sixth years (and Trisha’s coming to the end of the third year) it’s difficult to see exactly why she should be so upset.  Unless she just enjoys a good moan!

But it’s Gripper’s actions that linger.  Although he’s suspended until the end of term, it’s clear that he’ll be back and there’s never a moment in this episode when he exhibits even the slightest tinge of remorse.  And by the time we move to series five (and he’s entered the third year) he’ll be much, much worse …..

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