Grange Hill. Series Six – Episode Seventeen

grange hill s06e17

Written by Barry Purchese.  Tx 1st March 1983

It’s the day of the referendum.  Jonah decides to guarantee that the result is positive by doctoring a number of voting slips.  Elsewhere, Stewpot and Duane initiate the Pogo Patterson Girlfriend Sweepstake.  They plan to sell twenty tickets at 50 pence each, meaning that the winner stands to collect five pounds (whilst Stewpot and Duane are also guaranteed a fiver).  The only problem is that they don’t know her identity and Pogo isn’t telling ……

This episode sees some interesting character development for Jonah.  On the one hand, he’s still the same reckless boy we already know from numerous previous scrapes – attempting to spoil the exam papers was foolish in the extreme (as Mrs McClusky says, it was obvious that the same hand had written on all the papers).  This action suggests that his intelligence isn’t the greatest, but later we see him breeze through his exams in record time.  In the next episode it’s confirmed that he could be a first class student if he only concentrated, but his desire to lark about has set him back.  Had Lee Sparke returned for series seven then this theme could have been developed further (would he have become estranged from Zammo as they moved into different streams?)

This wasn’t to be though, as the programme makers had intended to kill him off at the start of the next series.  It would have been the first time that a regular central character had died (Antoni Karamanopolis had tumbled to his death during series three, but he was someone who only existed on the periphery of events).  It seemed that a sudden death didn’t appeal to either Sparke or his parents, so Jonah didn’t return – causing a hasty rewrite, which we’ll discuss when we get to the episodes in question.

Fay continues to be defined by her love of sport.  She’s therefore similar to Benny in that respect – for him it was football, for her it’s hockey.  She’s delighted to have made the District Team and is rather impatient with the complaints of the others (which she sees as petty).  Diane’s still concerned about her spots (although they appear much fainter here – the script implies they’re as bad as ever, so it must be just a poor case of make up) and Annette’s worried that she may have to wear a brace for a year or two.  Fay’s heartless nature is neatly paid off at the end of the episode, allowing Diane the chance to adopt a mocking attitude for a change.

The Pogo sweepstake is great fun, although Stewpot and Duane are under pressure from the others to reveal the correct name.  If they don’t, then they’ll have to give back all the money they’ve earned.  And they’ve only got one episode left to find out!

Claire, Suzanne and Christine arrange another edition of the underground magazine to insist on Mr McGuffy’s reinstatement.  Slightly surprisingly it’s Claire who’s the prime mover, whilst the nominally more radical Suzanne and Christine are initially hesitant.

Christine’s also involved in the most memorable part of the episode.  Mr Hopwood, in Mr McGuffy’s absence, has to take his English lesson.  He and N4 debate the importance of exams.  It isn’t the first time that we’ve heard pupils take a rather pessimistic view of exams – why bother, when there’s no jobs out there?  Mr Hopwood concedes that times are hard, but it’s still better to have qualifications than not.  Christine then tells him about her cousin, who along with forty four other people applied for a job as a shelf-stacker.  And she has a University degree.  There’s nothing to be said that can counter this, so the scene ends on a close up of Mr Hopwood’s face.  This, and the rally in the next episode, are echos of GH‘s more radical past.

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