Grange Hill. Series Six – Episode Seven

grange hill s06e07

Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 25th January 1983

The love triangle with Stewpot, Claire and gooseberry Duane is still lingering on.  This mainly consists of Duane giving Stewpot filthy looks whilst Claire isn’t terribly pleased with him either.  His decision to write Claire’s name on his hand has made their relationship very public (although to be honest I doubt it was that great a secret anyway).

Woody’s mild interest in Precious does seem to indicate that love’s currently very much in the air at GH.  Tony McPherson’s six episodes as Woody Woods was his only screen credit, which is more than a little surprising since – even with his limited screentime – he seems to have a natural presence.

Woody’s two friends, Steven (Mark Monero) and Glenroy (Stephen Woodcock), have sharply contrasting personalities.  Steven, like Woody, is relaxed and friendly whilst Glenroy is physically intimidating and more than a little bolshy.  Steven remained a peripheral character during his handful of appearances whilst Glenroy would develop quite nicely during the next series and a half, with Woodcock showing a deft line in comedy. And both Monero and Woodcock – like so many others – would later graduate to EastEnders.

Gripper and Denny tell their latest recruit, Georgie, that they don’t plan to stick around school. As the pair leave, there’s a cut to the next scene just as Georgie starts to move (meaning that it’s not clear if Georgie decided to truant with them or went to lessons instead). Given that the episode was nowhere near the 25 minute mark it’s a little surprising they didn’t let the scene play out for a few seconds more, so it would have been clear what Georgie’s decision was. Otherwise the whole scene doesn’t seem to have any purpose.

Anne Kristen makes an immediate impression as the intimidating Geography teacher Miss Clark, possibly it’s her harsh Scottish accent? Although born in Glasgow, Kristen didn’t always use her natural accent (for example, when she was a regular in Casualty, possibly her most familiar television role). Miss Clark’s another of those briefly-seen teachers who would have been a decent regular.

Gripper’s stepping up his racial bullying as we see him force both Duane and Pogo to swear an oath to the British people. To Gripper this is logical, since he considers they are the Master Race, but what exactly does he think this will achieve? It’s plain that Duane and Pogo only gave the oath under duress (as Duane later confirms to a shocked Stewpot). Is Gripper really so deluded to believe that the two boys are now firmly on his side? As later touched upon, tbe irony is that many people (such as Precious) are just as British as Gripper, although he – like many other racists down the years – isn’t able to grasp this concept.

Susanne’s still (unsurprisingly) unhappy and plans to run away from home. Claire’s appalled when she finds out and immediately enlists Stewpot’s help. I love the way that Mark Burdiss rolls his eyes in a long-suffering way, no doubt Suzanne’s not high on his list of priorities! Mr Hopwood later tells her that he’ll try to do something about her options, which seems to do the trick, for now at least.

Gripper’s confrontation with Stewpot and Claire is an edgy moment. Mark Savage (Gripper) has rarely been more intimidating as he attempts to make Stewpot swear the oath of allegiance. Characteristically he refuses, so a scuffle breaks out – which is cut short by the timely arrival of Mr Hopwood. He’s aware of the disturbing rumours surrounding Gripper, but with no tangible evidence he’s powerless.

Another key scene occurs towards the end of the episode, as Gripper pushes Precious too far and he’s forced to beat a hasty retreat. A dramatic moment which is well-played by Dulice Leicier.

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