Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Five

grange hill s09e05

Written by Margaret Simpson. Tx 21st January 1986

The cramped, multi-class environment of the gym continues to be a stressful experience for teachers and pupils alike.  Mr Bronson stalks around from class to class, saying nothing but clearly far from pleased (signified by the way he taps his pencil in a frustrated manner).  He spends several minutes standing silently by Miss Partridge’s class and it’s instructive that although he observes that Danny is the one who’s being awkward, Mr Bronson’s ire is directed at Ant.

Miss Partridge is eventually able to convince him that Ant was blameless but it’s intriguing that Mr Bronson is clearly shown to victimise Ant without any evidence.  The way that Mr Bronson targets certain pupils is something of a running thread during his time at the school (Zammo, Ant and – later – Danny).

But if Mr Bronson’s intervention was partly due to his disdain for Ant, then Miss Partridge is convinced that it also had something to do with the fact that she’s a woman (“I wouldn’t mind but he didn’t interfere with Peter King’s class”).  Mrs Reagan sympathises.  Mr Glover, a school governor, blocked her application to become head of sport, although quite how he could do this isn’t clear.

Now that Mr Baxter is a suit (deputy head) he finds himself a target as few of his colleagues are happy with the current state of affairs.  He weakly wonders whatever happened to the Dunkirk spirit, although that doesn’t seem to go down terribly well (Mrs Regan’s whispered “men” signifies what she thinks, although this isn’t really an argument that can be divided across male/female lines).

There’s a slight lapse in continuity here.  Last episode we were told that the old Brookdale building couldn’t be reopened because it had been extensively vandalised but this week we learn that it’s half way to becoming a multi-story car park.  Presumably a similar fate has befallen Rodney Bennett, as nobody ever mentions using that school on a temporary basis.

We haven’t seen Zammo since episode three.  There we learnt that he’d sold a present given to him by Jackie, now he’s on the verge of selling his pride and joy – his bike – to Kevin.  He’s clearly on a downward path – when Jackie speaks to him he’s hesitant and can’t look her in the eye – but it’s still not clear what his problem is.  Jackie is still prepared to stand by him and is happy to give him all the money she has in her post office savings account – twenty five pounds.  He’s grateful and promises to pay her back, although it seems unlikely.  It’s noticeable that they only feature very briefly across the twenty five minutes.  This may turn out to be the dominant plotline of series nine but it’s being set up in a very sparing manner.

Trevor is convinced that Julia Glover fancies him.  No, really.  This is even more unlikely than an Ant/Ronnie team up, but it sets us up for the inevitable comic reversal later.  Trevor has a brilliant plan to get a little on-one-on time with the woman of his dreams, he and Vince will rock up to Cheryl’s party, complete with a bottle of cider (lovely touch that) and blag their way in by claiming to be guests of a non-existent friend who’s already inside.  What could possibly go wrong?

This scene between Trevor and Vince is a delight.  It’s very much in the tradition of Laurel and Hardy where one – Laurel/Vince – is stupid and the other – Hardy/Trevor – is even stupider but thinks he’s cleverer.  Trevor’s promise to tutor Vince in the art of female seduction is a mouth-watering one (“watch me at the party, watch a master at work”) as is the way Trevor casually straightens his tie in a knowing manner.

With a little help from Paul Young on the stereo, the party at Louise’s is soon jumping although older sister Cheryl (Amma Asante) disapproves.  Asante must be one of Grange Hill‘s most distinguished former pupils as she’s gone on to enjoy an award-winning career as a director.  Belle (2004) and A Way of Life (2013) have both picked up numerous awards.

Luckily Kevin’s acting as a bouncer, so Trevor and Vince have to skulk off home and sadly we’re denied the opportunity to see Trev’s skills as a lothario at first hand.  Pity!  Kevin later acidly sums them up as “Meat Cleaver and Planet of the Apes”.  Harsh but fair.  Ant is more successful in gaining admittance, although given his comment (“I’m the drummer with Duran Duran, but I’m incognito tonight”) I feel that Kevin was well within his rights to give him a slap anyway.

Unable to catch Ant’s eye, Julia finds solace with alcohol instead.  It’s plain that this isn’t going to end well and so it proves with Mrs Regan forced to pick up the pieces.

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2 thoughts on “Grange Hill – Series Nine, Episode Five

  1. The four simultaneous lessions in the gymn create some of the most ambitious sequences in Grange Hill up to this point, requiring the orchestration of a lot of things happening concurrently, performed by over a hundred actors. The scene is impressively achieved spatially, with the long tracking shot that passes from class to class and the clever positioning of Mr Bronson, always in the background but located so that the viewer is continually aware that he’s in the wrong place. Its a sequence that probably couldn’t have been achieved so well on film or in the studio (too time consuming to record) and shows a real feel for the dramatic possibilities of Outside Broadcast recording.

    Cheryl’s party soundtrack in full:

    Paul Young – Come Back and Stay
    Wham! – If You Were There
    Paul Young – Ku-Ku Kurama
    Go West – We Close Our Eyes
    Wham! – Heartbeat

    Liked by 1 person

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