Written by David Angus. Tx 13th January 1987
Trevor continues his hard man campaign. He’s now attracted a posse of silent henchman who stand menacingly behind him as he carries out his low-level reign of terror. The first example of this is when he attempts to rip Ziggy’s pools coupon. Well I said it was low-level …..
Good old Mr Griffiths is on hand to stop things escalating, but he has an ulterior motive – he needs to inform Ziggy about the latest steps concerning Operation Harriet. Ziggy needs his right-hand man – Robbie – involved and after some persuading the reluctant Mr Griffiths agrees. Ziggy paints an attractive picture of Harriet to the uncomprehending Robbie. “You’ll love her. Big ears, big teeth, hairy legs”.
Quite how Mr Griffiths has been able to sneak in several bales of hay with nobody noticing is a slight mystery and there’s a close shave when Mrs McClusky comes wandering past. Cue comic innocence and spluttering from George A. Cooper.
Mr Scott’s attempt to take the register is once again scuppered by Imelda, although the rest of the class (apart from Ronnie of course) don’t help. This is followed by a brief scene of Robbie and Ziggy boisterously battering an unfortunate extra as they all rush down the stairs. There’s something very early-Tucker like about this moment whilst it’s also noteworthy that the boys are characterised here in a non-verbal way (aggression) whilst the girls following them – Ronnie, Calley, Jane – proceed at a much slower pace and are articulate as they debate Imelda and the negative impact she has on their lessons.
The school magazine plotline from last year didn’t really develop, so it seems to have been quietly shelved in favour of a radio station. In this episode it’s simply an embryonic idea suggested by Danny but since it clearly has the potential (like the magazine) to disseminate information that the staff would sooner not be made public, we’ll later see how it’s able to cover similar ground.
Quite why Danny – who loathes Grange Hill – would be keen to launch a radio station is a slight mystery. But it’s easy to see why he wants to get his hands on the new GH staff handbook (he’s made it plain in the past that he regards the school as an organisation designed to crush and normalise the pupils). But since it’s for staff only he’s going to be disappointed – unless somebody can somehow lay their hands on a copy …
Given that Mr Bronson would clearly be upset if they fell into the wrong hands, why did he entrust them to Vince and Hollo? They’re reliable enough, but with tedious inevitability they run into Imelda who scatters them far and wide. And wide enough so that Freddie can scoop one up.
The handbook – a synthesis of the differing approaches of Mr Bronson and Miss Partridge – doesn’t fill the rest of the staff with joy. One of its purposes (no doubt this came from Mr Bronson) seems to be to increase the amount of paperwork. As Mrs Reagan puts it. “Who needs lessons when we can all enjoy ourselves filling in forms?”
Possibly Mr Bronson’s most contentious decision is to introduce pupil profiles (which naturally they won’t be able to see). Both sides of the argument are then expressed. Mr Bronson is adamant that the staff shouldn’t feel inhibited about what they decide to write about an individual pupil but the counter-argument is obvious – if the comments are fair then the teacher in question should have nothing to worry about by having the files read by pupils and parents.
It’s almost as if this has been designed deliberately to inflame relations between the staff and pupils. Although it seems to be mainly Mr Bronson’s handiwork it clearly has the approval of Mrs McClusky. This maybe shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as whilst her authoritarian streak has been less pronounced in recent years, she’s never been hesitant in drawing a clear line between staff and pupils.
The episode ends with Mr Griffiths pointing at a map he’s painstakingly made, which shows the journey Harriet will have to take from the stables to the safety of the school. No, I don’t know why he’s drawn a map either. Can he, Ziggy, Robbie and Helen pull this daring rescue operation off? They all hurrah in a somewhat unconvincing way (not the most compelling end of episode moment ever) but we’ll have to wait and see.