Grange Hill. Series Eight – Episode Eight

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Written by Barry Purchese.  Tx 13th March 1985

Episode eight opens in an unconventional way, as we see Robbie stepping away from the boy’s urinal!  It’s not unusual to feature scenes in the toilets, but offhand I can’t think of many times when we actually see people doing the business, as it were

The scene introduces us to Gonch’s groping grab as well as moving forward his truanting plans (Hollo provides him with a stack of dental appointment cards – all they have to do is fill them out and they’ve a perfect excuse for being off school premises).

But what really interests me is how shabby and dilapidated the toilets are.  There’s a whacking great piece of graffiti (“wham” – presumably somebody was a fan) which helps to make it look like the sort of place you really wouldn’t linger in.  This isn’t reflected in the dialogue though, it’s simply taken as quite natural that it’s run down.  We also saw this in the previous episode – one of the classrooms looked in quite a state, with nasty stains on the wall.

But if the children don’t appear concerned about the appearance of the school, it appears that others do, as two builders (played by Ben Thomas and Frank Jarvis) turn up to try and repair some of the damage.  Jarvis in particular had an impressive list of credits – turning up in a score of popular television series (The Saint, Z Cars, Adam Adamant Lives!, Manhunt, Budgie, Softly Softly:Task Force, Callan, The Brothers, Dixon of Dock Green, Warshp, Target, The Professionals, etc).  He also appeared in three different Doctor Who stories, although given that his final two were Underworld and The Power of Kroll, you can’t help but feel he rather drew the short straw ….

Ronnie’s hair has once again changed to “unconventional”, but this is a minor matter to begin with as Calley, having spent the night with her real mother, is in something of a state.  Ronnie asks Miss Washington to speak to her, and just before the teacher leaves the classroom she asks her form to mark themselves in the register.  This is an incredibly odd request (presumably a sign of Miss Washington’s inexperience) leading to an inevitably boisterous free-for-all.

Who should be passing at precisely this time?  Why Mrs McClusky of course and she’s far from pleased.  “I think this is the first time in all my experience I have ever heard of a teacher asking any class to mark themselves in.”  And when Ronnie reappears, Mrs McClusky is staggered at her unconventional appearance.  As previously touched upon, GH characters often tended to display echoes of those who had gone before them and Ronnie here has more than a touch of Trisha Yates about her.  Both frequently railed against the conformity of school uniform, so Mrs McClusky’s comments could equally have easily been directed at Trisha.

Gonch and Hollo plan to “liberate” some of the school’s building materials to help Mr Light, whilst Miss Washington’s purse goes missing from the staffroom (surely Gonch’s groping grab couldn’t have been responsible?).  And Patsy Palmer, an unspeaking extra, continues to steal a number of scenes as she prominently places herself in the frame …

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