Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 21st January 1983
N2 have headed off to St Albans on a field trip, so that means we’re on film for the whole episode. The class are under the dutiful eye of Miss Mooney, Mr Smart and Mr Butterworth (Michael Graham Cox). Graham Cox has one of those instantly recognisable faces, although I wasn’t too sure exactly where I knew him from. But a quick skim through his credits (his television debut was in An Age of Kings in 1960, not a bad first series to appear in) shows that he turned up in plenty of notable series – Public Eye, Arthur of the Britons, Poldark, Secret Army, a regular in The Gentle Touch during 1984, etc.
Mr Butterworth is one of those classic one-shot GH teachers. He’s passionate about his subject (history) and is friendly, approachable and clearly written as something of an inspirational figure. A pity then that this is his only appearance. And for balance we have Mr Smart, who spends his time hitting various pupils on the head with his newspaper and telling them to open their eyes!
Fay’s hockey commitments means that she’s absent, although in story terms this is a good thing since it means that Annette has to spend time with Julie and Diane. We’ve already seen that Annette barely tolerates Julie (although given that Fay’s not here they do seem to get on better). But Annette has even less time for Diane and she and Julie leave the other girl to her own devices. They’ve been expressly told that they need to stay together in groups and the abandonment of Diane is only the first wrong move that they make …..
Annette’s headstrong (or pig-headed if you like) nature means that she’s convinced she knows the quickest way to the Roman theatre, despite Diane (who’s been to St Albans before) telling her she’s heading in the wrong direction. She won’t listen though and soon the two girls meet up again with Brian (Harvey Hillyer) and Kevin (Martin Murphy). Earlier in the day the two boys (presumably in their late teens) had stolen Julie’s crisps, but now (apparently all contrite) they offer to give them a lift to the theatre.
Their appearance and rather creepy dialogue (not to mention the shabby nature of their car!) all scream that Annette and Julie would be mad to accept, but of course they do. Since Brian and Kevin are so clearly signposted as wrong-‘uns from their first appearance, it may have been a little more interesting to have made them seem more “normal” and non-threatening to begin with – which would have made the sudden realisation that they were dangerous all the more striking. But no matter, it’s still a chilling moment as the girls realise that they’re not heading towards the theatre after all (instead they’re pulling off the road into the wood).
Possibly this is another reason why Fay wasn’t included in this episode, as you know for sure that she’d be far too sensible to get into a car with strange men. Thankfully nothing happens, but it’s spelled out quite clearly to them (and of course the young audience at home) that they were very lucky.
For a spot of light relief, Zammo and Jonah manage to find St Albans’ seedy underbelly whilst Roland gains a great deal of useful information for his school project, by doing nothing more than sitting in a café, eating, and recording the reminisces of days gone by from his fellow customers.