Written by Barry Purchese. Tx 29th January 1982
Mr McGuffy’s traumas with H3 continue and it’s no surprise that Gripper’s at the heart of it (with questions like “are you a hippy?”). The rest of the class are keen to play along though and McGuffy’s inexperience and credulity are demonstrated quite clearly after Gripper fires some grains of rice at the back of his neck. He turns around and asks the culprit to step forward and when Gripper and his henchmen turn deliberately to look at Matthew Cartwright, McGuffy is convinced that he’s the guilty party.
That McGuffy could be taken in by such an obvious ploy doesn’t really ring true. You’d have expected by now that he’d have gained a certain understanding of the personalities of H3 and would therefore know that class swot Matthew would never do such a thing. Coincidentally, it appears that Matthew has suffered badly at the hands of Gripper and has written an article about bullying for the school magazine.
Unsurprisingly, Mrs McClusky vetoes its publication, regarding the matter of bullying to be a matter for internal discipline rather than public debate. Given that Gripper continues to rampage unchecked through the school (and it’s difficult to imagine he’s the only bully in a school the size of Grange Hill) it’s possible to wonder whether she’s more interested in suppressing the article in order to pretend that bullying is not really an issue.
We’ve certainly not seen any proactive measures from the teaching staff to combat this problem – indeed the message clearly given by the series so far this year is that if you want to beat the bullies you have to stand up for yourself. Mr Baxter gave Matthew this very message a few episodes ago and Suzanne tells him exactly the same thing in this one. “You wanna stand up to him. I mean it, all right you have a fight with him and he beats you right? That don’t matter. Look, bullies like an easy target and if he knows you’ll have a go back at him he’ll leave you alone.”
Suzanne continues to buckle against the system. She’s in school, but refuses to wear school uniform. Mr McGuffy’s lack of sartorial elegance also catches Mrs McClusky’s eye and he too is given a dressing down about standards. This helps to connect Suzanne and Mr McGuffy – in a way they’re both misfits, but he takes the time to talk to her as a person and suggests they work on a piece about school uniform for the revue.
Mr McGuffy and Mrs McClusky share several lovely comic scenes. She’s in full-throttle attack as she lambasts the unfortunate English teacher over his general attitude and the fact that he’s come to school wearing jeans!. There couldn’t be two more diametrically opposed characters and the probability of future ructions seems highly likely. The school revue will be an obvious flashpoint as I don’t think Mrs McClusky has any idea exactly what’s being planned ….