Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Nine

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Written by Rosemary Mason.  Tx 3rd February 1987

I do believe Mr Bronson is human after all.  Spying Banksie walking to school he offers him a lift in his car.  Banksie initially refuses, but Mr Bronson isn’t taking no for an answer and eventually the boy agrees.  The teacher listens sympathetically to the reason why he no longer brings his motorbike to school (left outside in the street it’s liable to get knocked about) and decides that if it was left in the carpark then it would be safer.

All this and apologising for accusing him of wrecking his car too.  I wonder what’s caused this sudden sea change, could it be Danny’s illness?  There’s certainly a much more conciliatory air about Mr Bronson at present – witness the way he organises a lunchtime meeting to consider ways they can raise funds for Danny’s family.

It’s strange though to see him stripped of his usual arrogance as it’s such a defining character trait.  Without it he’s curiously vulnerable – this is most evident when he’s standing outside the assembly hall, fretting that his meeting will be poorly attended.  The reason?  Everybody’s attending a rival meeting organised by the pupils in the radio room.

His sudden cheerleading for Danny doesn’t go down well with everyone – most notably Miss Booth, who’s in something of a stroppy mood anyway.  She’s not pleased with Mr Bronson’s sudden adoption of Danny as Grange Hill’s favourite son and she’s even less delighted when Mr Kennedy takes over editorial control of the radio station.  Her bad day continues when Ziggy tells her she’s not welcome at their meeting (although it’s plain he doesn’t speak for the others).

Ziggy’s in a rather arrogant mood, which isn’t like him.  He declares that he’ll raise funds for Danny by scaling the highest building in the school and planting a banner (shades of Tucker J).  But before he can get started he needs money for the banner and a safety harness, meaning that his capital outlay makes it hard to imagine he’ll end up making that much money.  And whilst he claims to be doing it all for Danny, it seems to be more about Ziggy’s lust for glory.  As I said, a tad unusual.  He does manage to get some money from the others though, a point which will become important later ….

Imelda, it may not surprise you to learn, is still causing trouble.  It’s serious this time though as she gets involved in a classroom scrap which results in a bloody nose for Ronnie and general mayhem.  An unusual high shot gives us a bird’s-eye view of this short, but explosive piece of action.

Mr Scott’s not present (he’d already hightailed it out to find Mr Kennedy).  The older teacher doesn’t seem terribly pleased to be called, which no doubt only serves to fray Mr Scott’s already shattered nerves some more.  So Imelda is removed from class for the day with the warning that she’s well on the way to being suspended – something which appears to fill her with complete indifference.

Banksie and Jackie – separately  – take the opportunity to bend Fay’s ear.  Banksie’s wondering if he should go on the forthcoming canal trip as he can’t bear being close to Jackie if she’s still not speaking to him.  Jackie meanwhile is ruminating on her reactivated relationship with Zammo.  Fay, who’s been frantically studying all year, possibly isn’t too bothered about either of their tangled love lives but is too polite to say so.

It’s very odd to see Calley, Ronnie and Hollo together as they’re not a natural trio.  The reason quickly becomes clear as the girls have news – Gonch is due back soon.  But that’s not all – he and Ronnie are an item and have been for a while.  Hollo is unbelieving, surely Gonch would have shared this news with his best friend?  A surprising revelation that’s for sure and it’s a little odd that it’s not been mentioned before.

Donkey watch.  Helen is clearly very fond of Harriet (nothing else could excuse the baby talk she indulges in) whilst Imelda is much less so.  We can tell that Imelda’s a rotter by the way that she kicks the donkey, although this does have an ulterior motive.  She wants Ziggy’s money, which he’s hidden in Harriet’s stable ….

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Eight

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Written by Rosemary Mason.  Tx 31st January 1987

Mr Griffiths isn’t happy with the piles of bottles which are accumulating around the school.  “Mark my words they’ll be broken bottles and tears”.  This point is made seconds later after Mr Bronson reverses his car into a crate of bottles and smashes them.  Oh dear.

The radio room is taking shape.  I daresay that if this episode was repeated today then they’d probably pixilate the prominent poster of Dave Lee Travis.  The common room posters of Gary Davies and Bruno Brookes would be acceptable though.

Ant make his latest appearance, today he’s walking Georgina to school.  He’s not changed since he was a GH pupil – He’s still the same sullen, stroppy person that we grew to love (or not) last year.  It hasn’t taken him long to find his new school as tiresome as his old, although since there’s no Mr Bronson there it’s unclear what his problem now is.

Mrs McClusky stands for no nonsense as she quietens down the rowdier third-formers who are carousing through the corridors.  “I said walk, Trevor Cleaver, not stand still and smirk”.

Mr Scott continues to be a forlorn figure.  His body language as he sits in his orange Mini makes it plain that he’s continuing to fight his nerves.  The way that Mr Kennedy is suddenly revealed at his window comes as a surprise both to him and the audience.  Mr Kennedy makes the point that it’s better if he’s in the classroom before the pupils arrive (he made the same suggestion some time ago) but it seems that it doesn’t work.  Nothing seems to work, which is why he continues to flounder.  Given that Imelda is his main problem (something which is acknowledged by Mr Kennedy) is does seem a little mean that a green, young teacher has been gifted her.

Imelda might be an isolated figure – despised by all her classmates – but she still continues to rule the roost.  But there are signs that they’ve all lost their patience with her (and indeed with Mr Scott) which means that the teacher has to endure the sight of his pupils attempting to restore order, when of course it should be his job.

The question of closed profiles continues to rumble on.  The likes of Freddie and Danny aren’t particularly happy – Danny wonders what would happen if a teacher, who didn’t care for a pupil, decided to write something inaccurate or defamatory.  What checks and balances are in place?  Mr Bronson can’t really answer this and since Danny’s illness became public he’s had to tread somewhat softly with him (which is possibly the reason why he’s now singled out Banksie for special treatment.  Mr Bronson clearly always has to have someone he can needle).

Having earlier given Mr Scott a pep talk, Mr Kennedy then moves onto Mr Bronson.  The older teacher laments Danny’s illness (“young potential wasted”) which surprises Mr Kennedy, who naturally enough believed that Mr Bronson had little time for the boy.  Mr Bronson offers this in reply.  “It is often the most gifted of pupils who kick against the system. It doesn’t make the system wrong or the pupils not worth bothering about”.  A rare insight into the way Mr Bronson’s mind works o a desperate attempt to justify his previous actions?

Hollo and Vince decide that the bottle money should go to Danny Kendal’s fund whilst Ziggy and Robbie continue to attempt to crack the girl’s secret code.  This involves the pair hiding in the hay of Harriet’s stable in order to overhear their conversation.  This is such a brilliant scheme it’s hard to imagine anything going wrong.

Oh wait, this is Ziggy and Robbie we’re talking about, the pair who spent last year atempting – and failing – to gain revenge over Imelda on a weekly basis so of course their great plan is doomed.  It wasn’t too clever for Ziggy’s foot to be sticking out of the hay.

The radio is now set up for a test transmission.  Mr Bronson views the set-up with disfavour and is not backwards in coming forwards to say so.  He can’t resist flicking a few switches and impatiently ignores Miss Booth’s admonition (“I’m not a complete idiot”).  Those are fatal words as you know that the microphone will now be live and their private conversation will be broadcast around the school.  This mainly involves Mr Mackenzie jibing Mr Bronson about the scandal which exists between him and Harriet.  The mind boggles …..

Calley, Ronnie and Jane gain revenge over Imelda.  It’s noticeable how Jane this year has moved back into the centre of things having sat out a large part of the previous series.  And whist the girls are getting messy, Danny’s inspirational message continues to be broadcast around the school.  But the sting in the tale is that his message was recorded as Roland discovers when he finds an unconscious Danny on the radio room floor.

This is the cue for an unusual end credits sequence as the scene of the ambulance arriving and everybody staring anxiously plays out as the titles roll and Chicken Man plays.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Seven

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Written by Rosemary Mason.  Tx 27th January 1987

You have to feel a little sorry for Banksie.  After pursuing Jackie for the last few years he finally got his wish – as they became an item – only for her to now dump him without a word.  At the end of the last episode we saw him discover the truth (he angrily wobbled away on his motorbike).

He’s back on his bike at the start of this one, as he catches up with Jackie on the way to school.  It seems that Jackie hasn’t even told him it’s over to his face (and since she’s clearly been pining for Zammo all this time, possibly she was never interested in him in the first place anyway).

This means that Banksie’s not in the best of moods so when he’s subjected to one of Mr Bronson’s “You boy!” he reacts in a typically truculent manner.  This is the first “You boy!” we’ve heard in a while – nice to have it back on the school timetable again.  Mr Bronson isn’t happy that Banksie’s brought his bike into school (motorised transport driven by pupils is strictly forbidden on school grounds) whilst Banksie’s clearly not pleased at being spoken to as if he was a small child.

But Mr Bronson’s main interests are elsewhere.  He’s very irked (to put it mildly) that Danny threw his diary into the fishpond (Danny’s response is that he won’t need it anymore).  This scene is shot behind Mr Bronson – we see Danny through the crook of Mr Bronson’s arm – which is an usual framing device (normally GH tends to be rather plainly directed with few interesting flourishes).  The meaning behind Danny’s statement isn’t spelled out, so for now we remain in the dark.

We meet Mr Kendall (Chris Saunders) who’s come to the school ostensibly to talk about the radio scheme but he – like Mrs McClusky – also wants to discuss Danny.  Rather embarrassingly they’re at complete cross-purposes.  She believes that he’s going to confirm that Danny’s on drugs – well he is, but only because he’s very ill.  It seems more than a little foolhardy to suggest to a parent that their son is a drug addict without any firm proof.

Roland, Danny’s instant best new friend, happens to be eavesdropping outside the office and hears everything.  Treatment is available – via a special unit in Aberdeen – but it will incur costs, so Roland immediately heads off to do a spot of fundraising.  So in an instant Danny has changed from being an enigma to some and an irritation to others.  From this point on he’s the recipient of sympathy from all.  Even Mr Bronson.

Mr Scott’s registration period remains a battleground.  Today Imelda mercilessly teases Ronnie about her unrequited passion for the teacher.  This is illusionary of course (we’re not heading down the Fay/Mr King road anytime soon) but it helps to keep the pressure stoked up.  A non-verbal signifier of Mr Scott’s continuing discipline problems can be seen on the blackboard, which is covered with scrawled messages (remarkably none of them are rude).

Banksie continues to carry his black mood into Miss Partidge’s lesson.  A spot of role-play allows him to articulate his anger at being cast aside by Jackie (a bad move that Miss Partridge elected to pair the two of them together in an exercise which cast him as a surly waiter and her as a customer).  And if this doesn’t entertain then you can always just sit back and admire the jumpers worn by the extras.

Roland’s transformation from an outsider and misfit (seen during 1982 to 1984) to a rounded member of the school community (from 1985 onwards) continues here.  He’s passionate about the radio station – partly because he thinks it’s a good idea but mostly because he wants to fulfil Danny’s wish – and his gift of the gab means he’s able to blag some free cable from a local electrical shop.

He marshals some of the others – such as Robbie and Ziggy – into helping, although things don’t quite go the way they should have done.  Some runaway cable provides a limp comedy moment which comes complete with a prat-falling milkman.  And then it turns out that they took the wrong cable, although it’s hard to blame them for this mistake as surely one lot of cable would look pretty much like another.

Grange Hill are collecting bottles, so Vince and Hollo decide to pick up as many as they can.  Remember what I said about their largely excitement free plotlines?  I miss Gonch.

Donkey watch.  This was shaping up to be a Harriet-free episode, but no she makes a brief appearance at the end as a stroppy Imelda lets her roam free.  It looks as if Harriet was responsible for damaging Mr Bronson’s car but he decides (with no evidence) that Banksie was responsible.  We’ve been here before with Mr Bronson jumping to conclusions ….

Mr Bronson enters the sixth form common room just as Banksie demonstrates his unique way of dealing with dirty coffee mugs – he throws it against the wall, smashing it to pieces (“now no-one will have to wash it up, will they?”)  Mr Bronson doesn’t like that. “You, vandal! My car and now this!”  The truth later comes to light as he spies a large pile of donkey droppings by his car (weren’t they there before?).  “She will have to go” he mutters.  Yes please.

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Betjeman – The Collection. Simply Media DVD Review

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Sir John Betjeman (1906 – 1984) described himself with characteristic understatement in Who’s Who as a “poet and hack”.  There was rather more to him than that though – he was a writer, broadcaster and from 1972 until his death also served as the Poet Laureate.

Betjeman’s love of architecture (especially from the Victorian era) and landscape is explored in detail across the three series which make up this boxset – A Passion for Churches, Bird’s Eye View and Four with Betjeman: Victorian Architects and Architecture.

Four With Betjeman finds him indulging one of his most strongly held passions – that of the Victorian architects and the buildings they left behind.  “I have known for years and so have most of you that there were great Victorian architects, but they have never been given their due. Today, thank goodness, we can see Victorian architecture in perspective”.

This excerpt from a contemporary Daily Telegraph review articulates just why this short series was so entertaining and absorbing.  “There is a precision about his informed enthusiasm which enables one to see the most familiar buildings, such as the Houses of Parliament, in a new light … Sir John, who succeeds in making his conducted tours seem addressed to a personal friend, can move without pause from an appreciation of shape and proportion to an anecdote about an Irish peer rolling the full length of a Barry staircase”.

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Four With Betjeman contains four half-hour programmes – (Charles Barry & Augustus PuginWilliam Butterfield & Gilbert ScottAlfred Waterhouse & Norman ShawSir Ninian ComperWilliam Robinson & Sir Edwin Lutyens).

In Bird’s Eye View we, unsurprisingly, observe Britain from a different angle as we take to the air for an unusual take on the familiar.  The first programme, An Englishman’s Home, sees Betjeman waxing lyrical (with the occasional sharp barb) as the camera swoops over a diverse selection of dwellings.  From stately castle, Georgian terrace, suburban semi to looming concrete tower blocks, Betjeman has words for all.  His comments on tower blocks (“but where can be the heart that sends a family to the twentieth floor in such a slab as this?”) carries a particular resonance today, following the disaster at Grenfell Tower.

From the same series, Beside the Seaside is a treat as we tour past some of England’s most popular seaside destinations.  The somewhat faded colour print helps to give the visuals a faint air of melancholy.

A swooping seagull takes its flight
From Weymouth to the Isle of Wight
From Cornish cliff tops wild and bare
To crowds at Weston-super-Mare
The seaside seen as history
Bournemouth, Butlin’s and Torquay
Whatever paddles, surfs or sails
Braves the waves or rides the gales
A scrapbook made at Christmastime
Of summer joys in film and rhyme

The title music for Bird’s Eye View is a typically jazzy piece from John Dankworth (the incidentals are more classically inclined, all the better to compliment Betjeman’s words).

Also included on the same disc is One Man’s Country – Cornwall (1964).  This isn’t part of the Bird’s Eye View series, but since it has a similar style it fits well with the two later programmes.  The stark black and footage of Cornwall is very striking and helps to make it especially memorable.

Although he’s not on camera, these three programmes (a perfect marriage of visuals and Bejeman’s poetic prose) are probably my favourite from the set.  Both of the Bird’s Eye View programmes run for fifty minutes whilst Cornwall is shorter, at twenty five.

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A Passion for Churches (1974) sees Betjeman explore his long-held fascination with church architecture.  “What would you be, you wide East Anglian sky, without church towers to recognise you by?”  His love of churches began exactly sixty years prior to this, as the eight-year old Betjeman went rowing on the River Bure in Norfolk with his father.  Delightfully, this film opens with Betjeman re-enacting this. He then moves on to take a whistle-stop tour around the area.

From Medieval stained glass and brass rubbings, to weddings and the Edwardian parish church on the Queen’s estate of Sandringham, A Passion for Churches is another leisurely treat.  As with all the programmes, the visuals are anchored by Betjeman’s measured, poetic narration.

Also included on the same disc are ABC of Churches (two episodes of approx. 23 minutes, 1961), Journey to Bethlehem (30 minutes, 1966) and a ten-minute fragment from a later edition of the ABC of Churches series (since the two complete editions only go from A – F, presumably the others were wiped).  All of these, unlike A Passion for Churches, are in black and white.

I’m sure that Doctor Who fans will appreciate the tour of Aldbourne’s church (memorably later depicted in 1971’s The Daemons) in the first edition of ABC of Churches whilst Journey to Bethlehem still captures the attention some fifty years on.

Given the age of the source materials, the picture quality is naturally a little variable.  The colour film prints are rather faded in places, although the black and white prints aren’t in too bad a condition at all.  But everything’s perfectly watchable with no major picture glitches to report.

A wonderful collection of programmes, Betjeman – The Collection should appeal to anybody interested in archive documentaries. Recommended.

Betjeman – The Collection is released by Simply Media on the 23rd of October 2017.  It can be ordered direct from Simply here.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Six

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Written by David Angus.  Tx 23rd January 1987

Vince and Hollo continue their partnership, although it’s somewhat low on excitement.  Last time Vince, still smarting that Ziggy hadn’t paid back a pound he owed him, decided to steal his bag in retaliation.  Hollo, the peacemaker, returns Ziggy’s bag and gives Vince a pound (claiming it came from Ziggy, when in fact it was Hollo’s).  What the absent Gonch would have made of this cavalier attitude to money is easy to guess ….

Imelda continues to needle Mr Scott.  During registration she delights in playing her radio at full blast. Now that all her Terrahawks have deserted her, Imelda has Natasha (Patsy Palmer) for company. No doubt due to her later career (like many other Grange Hill students she ended up in Albert Square) Palmer is one of the most distinctive extras of this era.  Often seen lingering in the background and very occasionally granted the privilege of a line or two.

Relations between Imelda and Mr Scott then sink to a new low after she smashes a flask during his chemistry class.  This sort of destructive disruption isn’t something we’ve seen too often before (although the S1 Tucker Jenkins could be something of a handful during lessons) since the likes of Gripper seemed to play truant more often than they attended classes.

The fact that Imelda seems to have a decent attendance record is therefore a little noteworthy.  She clearly prefers to be in school causing trouble rather than pounding the streets with nothing to do.  The question is, how long can her behaviour be tolerated?

Ronnie asks Mr Kennedy if she can be moved to another class, but he’s somewhat noncommittal.  It would certainly solve the immediate problem for this class, but it would simply mean that the problem was elsewhere.  This may be why he’s not keen, but it’s also obvious that Imelda’s only really a problem in Mr Scott’s class. It’s not stated out loud, but both know that he’s the weak link.

After spending a few episodes as an unpleasant bully, Trevor seems to be regressing back to his usual buffoonish persona. He crows to Ziggy and Robbie that he picked more score draws than they did on the last pools coupon (Trevor’s gang of unsmiling hangers-on also appear to have disappeared).

Mr Kennedy’s convinced that Danny’s recent strange behaviour could be drugs related. Eh? He says that the parallels between Danny this year and Zammo last year are obvious, but I’m not seeing them. Mr Bronson rules out drugs – to him, Danny’s the same as he’s always been. “Moody, willful, insolent”. He’s not a fan then.

Julia’s not happy that Freddie’s ignoring her in favour of Julie.  And Julia being Julia, she tends to express this in a slightly whiny way.  Clearly she hasn’t yet realised that she’s well shot of him (there’s only one person who Freddie loves – and that’s Freddie himself).

Speaking of Natasha and her occassional allocation of lines, as we were earlier, she gets one in this episode. Slightly oddly she’s talking to Julia (generally third and second years wouldn’t mix – we’ve never seen them together before that’s for sure) and she offers Julia this sage advice, re Freddie. “I don’t think he’s worth it, you should forget about him”. Classic stuff, as is the way that Natasha looks longingly at Freddie even after she’s just slagged him off!

Radio Grange Hill hits a small snag when it becomes apparent that several hundred pounds will be needed in order to install the free equipment in order to get it up and running. But Roland, who’s struck up an instant friendship with Danny, has some ideas.

Zammo continues to teeter on the edge. Last time his meeting with his old druggy friends was innocent – this time it’s not. He’s able to fluently lie about it to Jackie though (deception is something he’s become very good at). He sits in the toilet, a packet of some unhealthy substance in his hand. Does he succumb? It’s not obvious, but Jackie – alone in the common room – is instantly aware that something’s up with him. This moment – slightly oddly – serves as the moment of their reconciliation.

Donkey watch.  Having clearly tired of annoying Mr Scott, Imelda now sets her sights on the unfortunate Harriet.  Imelda threatens to expose Mr Griffith’s donkey secret to Mrs McClusky which results in a frantic chase as Ziggy and Robbie desperately attempt to stop her.  I wonder if the audience were cheering her on though?!

Earlier Harriet was continuing to make loud donkey noises (which Mr Griffiths attempted to cover up by coughing loudly or blaming the heating). Hmm, much as I love George A. Cooper this is a storyline which tries the patience.

Eventually Mrs McClusky does discover Harriet in all her glory but decides that she can stay.  Maybe Mr Griffiths should have been upfront to begin with (it certainly would have saved us a few episodes worth of running about).  No matter, we got there in the end.

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Five

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Written by David Angus. Tx 20th January 1987

We saw several times last year that Zammo appeared to have kicked his drugs habit, only for his (fairly transparent) lies to be quickly found out.  So when Jackie sees him handing over money to Howard and Doug she naturally thinks the worst.

Zammo – for once – is blameless, but convincing Jackie isn’t easy.  Although given that she and Zammo are no longer an item, neither should be that bothered about what the other thinks.  Except it seems inevitable they’ll get back together (had they not, it would have been something of a surprise) so this scene serves as evidence that Jackie – despite her previous polite indifference – still cares deeply for Zammo.

He’s more blatant, telling her that he can’t cope without her. But such obvious emotional blackmail doesn’t cut any ice with her. Not yet anyway …

Danny’s continuing to have regular swooning fits.  And still everybody is slow to react.  To be fair, the staff – with the notable exception of Mr Bronson – are beginning to wonder if something is wrong (although somebody really should have done something by now).  Unsurprisingly Mr Bronson simply believes the boy is displaying his usual inattentiveness and contempt for authority and places him on report.

Mr Scott’s hanging around the staffroom, five minutes after the bell has gone, clearly wishing he could be anywhere other than Grange Hill. You can’t blame him – since Imelda, sporting a portable(ish) radio is intent on causing trouble. And Mr Scott’s plaintive “not in here Imelda” isn’t going to cut any ice with her.

Mrs McClusky shows her human side by offering Zammo and Fay, revising for their resists in the library, some moral support. They’re both feeling a little low – as they’ve effectively dropped down a year they now feel isolated from the rest of the sixth-formers. Or maybe it’s just that both are still pining for their lost loves – Jackie and Mr King respectively.

Donkey Watch. Harriet isn’t the quietest of beasts (which the milkman – making his early round delivery – notices). Ziggy dreams of being a manure king – but unlike Gonch (who would have been concerned only making a profit) Ziggy plans to sell it in order to buy more food for Harriet. It’s the perfect circular solution.

Exercise is going to be something of a problem though, so Ziggy and Helen knock up a disguise.  What they come up with is very silly – never mind, just another fifteen episodes and we’ll be able to bid Harriet a fond farewell.  Mrs McClusky is somewhat surprised to discover a pile of dung on the path. I love the way that Mr Griffiths, walking beside her, casually looks up into the sky. Was anybody convinced by his suggestion that a very large bird was responsible? I don’t know, but it’s a nice comic moment.

Meanwhile Roland has suddenly turned into a remorseless hardman, casually blackmailing Mr Griffiths as if he’d had years of practice.  Having found out about Harriet, Roland uses his knowledge to force Mr Griffiths into finding them a larger common room.  Cue indignant spluttering from George A. Cooper as Mr Griffiths eventually realises he’s been outmanoeuvred and is therefore forced to accede to Roland’s request. But first he has to vent his feelings to Harriet. “Terrible thing blackmail. Once you give into it, they’ve got you”.

Now that Harriet is becoming more and more ubiquitous, surely it can’t be long before she’s discovered?  Well yes, but that’s not the end of the story …..

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Grange Hill – Series Ten, Episode Four

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Written by David Angus.  Tx 16th January 1987

It’s been a while since we’ve observed Mr Bronson at work.  Unsurprisingly he still continues to rule his classes by fear – and today it’s the unfortunate Julia who has to shamefacedly admit that she’s made an error.  Mr Bronson stands close-by, twiddling a pencil whilst haranguing Julia about her general level of carelessness.

Danny’s had enough of this oppressive atmosphere and decides to make a break for it.  This is plainly connected to his – as yet – undiagnosed illness rather than just another example of his normal lack of disconnectedness.

I wonder what happened to Zammo and Jackie during the holidays?  Since they don’t seem to have seen each other, not a great deal, which is a slight oddity given the way we left them at the end of S9.  In the penultimate episode we saw that Jackie still cared deeply for him, she just couldn’t bring herself to attempt a visit.  Her position had softened considerably by the final episode but after that it appears that Steven Banks, for all his character faults, appealed to her as the steadier prospect.

So Jackie and Banksie are currently an item, although he – with his usual lack of self-esteem – complains that he never feels welcome whenever he goes to visit her family (although since they probably still remember the stock-car crash from 1985 that’s not too surprising).  There’s still a spark between Jackie and Zammo though, so everything seems set for a slow reconciliation between them.

Mr Kennedy, once again sharing his lunch with the pupils, is mildly intrigued by the prospect of Danny’s radio station.  He’s also able to lend a sympathetic ear to Louise’s concerns that she won’t be able to talk on a chosen subject for ten minutes.  Rather neatly, Louise decides to talk about her new family life.  This is a clever way of confirming that she’s now getting along fine with her aunt and uncle, but since it’s done during the course of a lesson it doesn’t feel like a forced question from one of her friends.

Although Mr Kennedy’s clearly a caring teacher, he doesn’t notice that Danny’s far from well during this lesson.  It’s hard to miss – his general wooziness and rapid blinking – so quite how this doesn’t get commented on is a slight mystery.  Freddie’s in the background wearing a concerned expression, but I’ve already got the feeling that this plotline has been stretched about as far as it can go.  Surely by now somebody would have spotted the signs?

Let’s check in with Operation Harriet.  After Mr Griffiths loads the donkey aboard his van, there’s no room for Robbie and Ziggy who are forced to run back to school.  At one point the boys hear a loud braying from the van (“well it’s not Griffiths is it?”) and dash over to investigate.  They pass a couple of bemused bystanders who I think were genuine passers-by rather than extras.  Some of the other baffled old-dears they pass might have been extras though, given the amount of head-shaking they do.

So none of them considered the possibility that a donkey might want to make donkey-like noises?  Okay.  Bear in mind that we’re only at episode five and Harriet doesn’t take her final bow until episode twenty, so we’ve got a long, long, way to go ….

Ant’s back.  He’s only visiting, although his visit takes him and Danny straight to Harriet’s stable.  Why did he decide to poke about in that particular shed?  Some sort of sixth sense?  I’m trying to be generous but the saga of Harriet is already beginning to wear a little thin.

Still, the sight of Mr Griffiths attempting to manoeuvre his van containing the donkey past Mrs Reagan’s netball team is a mildly amusing one.  That Harriet obligingly moves into the frame as Mr Griffiths is circling the playground was either a stroke of luck or a nicely directed moment.

For the second episode in a row we close on the four musketeers – Mr Griffiths, Robbie, Ziggy and Helen – although this time they’re toasting their success.  It’s as oddly directed as the previous episode closer though.  This time, Mr Griffiths and the others burble on for a few seconds about nothing (a brief spot of improvised chatter maybe?)

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