Grange Hill. Series Six – Episode Nine

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Written by Paula Milne. Tx 1st February 1983

Open Day is fast approaching, which means that the pupils all have to come up with an interesting project.  The most elaborate comes courtesy of Jonah and Zammo, who devise a computer programme intended to make them a healthy profit.

Once upon a time this would have been Pogo’s domain, but at present he doesn’t seem interested in money making schemes, so the two younger boys clearly see a gap in the market.  Their lack of computer knowledge means that have to lean heavily on the expertise of Miss Lexington.  Allyson Rees last appeared as the fragrant Miss Lexington at the end of series four, so her brief reappearance here was unexpected (but very welcome).  Although Miss Lexington seems a trusting soul, there’s also the suggestion that she doesn’t believe for a minute that the boys will donate any profit they make to charity.

No surprises that the race computer programme is doomed to failure.  The idea is sound enough – somebody runs around the school, their time is recorded and the computer then calculates how long it would take the next person to run the same course (using their age, height, weight, etc as a handicap).  Alas, Zammo  is chosen as the control runner but doesn’t complete the course (instead he sits down and chomps through an apple).  The upshot is that his estimated timings are far too generous, meaning that everybody wins and they have to hand over twenty pence each time.  So Jonah utters what was, for Grange Hill, fairly strong language (“you lazy git”) and in the interests of damage limitation they enlist Roland to block the later runners, thereby reducing their losses somewhat!

Gripper’s project on the history of weaponry doesn’t meet with Mr Hopwood’s approval, so he sets him a task in woodwork instead.  He presents the boy with a block of wood and tells him he can carve whatever he likes (provided it doesn’t resemble a weapon).  Mr Hopwood is pleased with Gripper’s progress and tells him that he could be the hit of open day.  Hmm, really?  Gripper’s masterpiece is an oblong block of wood with a hole in it.  I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like and that’s not really it.

Although it could be that Paula Milne was attempting to show that, for once, Gripper made a genuine effort to do something constructive – only to find it was ignored.  Everybody seems much more interested in Glenroy’s project on Rastafarian culture (complete with booming music) which no doubt irked the racist Gripper even more.  Earlier, there’s a lovely scene between Glenroy and Mrs McClusky in which she asks him to explain his project.  Gwyneth Powell doesn’t say much, but her expression of polite interest speaks volumes.

It’s slightly odd that Suzanne’s still fretting about her Options, since Mr Hopwood sorted that out in an earlier episode.  But here it’s still not been done, although after yet another entreaty he promises to move her to Media Studies.  No doubt he hopes that this will cause a cease-fire in Suzanne’s anti-establishment campaign (she turns up to school in an eye-catching blue-mini skirt complete with blue tights) but it’s only a momentary respite.  Once Suzanne learns that she’s only got onto the Media Studies course because someone else was there by accident she goes ballistic and she ends the episode with her strop factor turned up to eleven.

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