(Okay look. Honesty time. I know it’s been a while. I started writing this over a year ago, then I stopped part way and it’s lurked in my drafts since then. I was very depressed, and getting back to this was scary, and daunting. And I won’t pretend I’m a picture of mental health now, nor can I promise I won’t still disappear for long periods of time. But I know I’ll feel better if I actually create things and get them out there, even things as stupid and ultimately pointless as these reviews. So I’ll do my best, I’ll keep at it, and I won’t stress too much about it. Things will take as long as they take, I’ll make whatever I want to make, and I won’t worry about who’s gonna read it or what they’ll think. It’s all for fun after all, and I think I just needed to remember that. Anyway, back to it!)
In this episode: we get to focus on the girls, to make up for last episode being so boy-heavy. Phil Redmond shows a strange understanding of how girls spend their time, but that’s okay.
The entire first scene of this episode is just two and a half minutes of Judy Preston being Highly Relatable, and it’s GLORIOUS.
Judy calmly sits sipping her tea as slowly as humanly possible. Her mother urges her to hurry up, lest she be late again, in the voice of someone who has had this conversation every single morning since Judy was 4. Judy proceeds to somehow drink her tea even slower than ever before.
Judy’s mother hurries and fusses, while in the background Judy continues to move as though she’s got stuck in extreme slow motion. She even puts her cup down and picks up her hairbrush at approximately the same speed it took the planet Earth to form into a solid mass. She then, for reasons best known to herself, purposefully moves to stand as close as possible to the fire before starting to brush her hair, causing her mother to nag her about fire hazards. I think Judy is deliberately winding her mother up.
“Well you shouldn’t have put the mirror there then!” Judy snaps.
Judy is definitely deliberately winding her mother up.
Hair brushed, Mrs Preston tells Judy to put her coat on, and unwisely turns her back and walks away from Judy. Judy gives her this look as she departs:
What do you think Judy is going to do next? Will she:
A) Do as her mother says and put her coat on?
B) Walk towards her coat, but at the speed of the continents shifting?
or C) Make no effort at all to put or her coat on and instead pick up a magazine and begin to read?
If you guessed C, then congratulations! If you guessed A then you clearly don’t know Judy Preston at all.
When her mother notices this, Judy has the absolute gall to claim she is “looking for something”. I cannot begin to fathom what she could possibly be looking for between the pages of a teen magazine. Her horoscope perhaps? “Aries should continue being a complete nuisance for the foreseeable future”?
Judy then launches into an impassioned speech about how much she dislikes going to school. I feel you, Judes. Her mother claims she’ll enjoy it more when she makes friends, but I fear that’s easier said than done.
“It’ll get better!” lies Mrs Preston.
“HOW?!?” yells Judy incredulously. Incredible, only three episodes in and Judy already understands life for a Grange Hill character perfectly.
Judy’s mother continues to lie shamelessly by saying they’ll sit down and discuss it later. That’s just parent code for “I do not want to talk about this difficult topic now or ever, please leave so I can forget all about it”.
Judy however is wise beyond her years and sees through Mrs Preston’s cunning plan to dodge uncomfortable emotions. “You always say that!” she says, reproachfully. Mrs Preston has clearly played this game before.
Judy’s mother is clever too however, and attempts to bribe the bad thoughts away by giving Judy a whole 20p.
Meanwhile, at school, Tucker is doing what he does best: dangerous misbehaviour.
Tucker and Benny are heading a football back and forth in a crowded classroom, like little idiots. Our poor miserable Judy Preston enters, and Tucker and Benny decide to partake in some bullying for no good reason.
Tucker hurls his football directly at Judy’s head. Peter Jenkins you little twerp that really hurts. What would your mother say? He then steals Judy’s bag, and he and Benny toss it back and forth while a visibly distressed Judy tries to get them to stop. God Tucker is The Worst.
Luckily, our girl Trisha Yates, saviour of the masses, is on hand!
Cool as a cucumber and without saying a word, our girl stands up, calmly walks over, snatches the satchel from Tucker, and effortlessly shoves him with one hand, sending him sprawling.
Trisha gives an awed Judy back her bag, and young Tucker, being The Worst, is enraged that Our Trish would dare ruin his fun.
“It was none of your business!” he says angrily, like a terrible person.
Trisha, being a hero and an icon, has no time for his nonsense.
“We was only playing piggy in the middle!” says Tucker, pretending this is in any way a good excuse.
“You should’ve been in the middle then,” retorts Trisha ‘Absolute Savage’ Yates.
In this year group, there are only two types of girls: small nervous nerd girls who must be protected at all costs, and absolute icons who could single-handedly overthrow the government without breaking a sweat and I’d say thanks. (And also Cathy Hargreaves is there too later on but she can’t help it.)
Tucker unwisely threatens to punch Trisha, then cowers back when she stands up just a little straighter, because at this point in time Tucker is tiny and could only win in a fight against someone even more “all talk” than him. (But more on that later.)
Anyway, Tucker backs off nervously, pretending it’s because he “don’t fight with girls”, and Trisha tells Judy not to worry about him, on account of him being “all talk”, like I just explained. Could this be the start of a blossoming new friendship?
But no time for that now! Everyone hush! The true hero has entered!
I cannot convey to you enough just how much I adore Mr Mitchell. He is in my eyes far and away the best thing about series one and two of Grange Hill. He is the one decent adult in this whole disaster school and one of only like two or three decent adults in the entire disaster borough of Northam. He’s not a pushover, and he acts on just about his last tether with the kids 100% of the time, but he also treats them with respect, helps them when they need it, cracks jokes with them, and you just know he’d throw down with anyone to protect any of these kids if needs be, even kids like Tucker, or [SPOILERS]. He’s the best and I love him.
Anyway back to the episode. Mr Mitchell attempts to give an important notice, only for Tucker to be a loud irritating nuisance, the absolute worst kind of irritating nuisance. Tucker has decided to sit on the wrong desk, protests loudly instead of moving, earning himself an hour’s detention. This may seem harsh just for sitting in the wrong desk, but Old Mitch is clever, and probably aware Tucker was doing other things worthy of a detention before he entered. Tucker continues to loudly interrupt Mr Mitchell every time he speaks, because Tucker hasn’t yet learnt that he isn’t in fact the most important person in the world. Some kids just go through that phase, don’t worry about it. If anything it’s incredible he’s the only one like it in this whole class of 11 and 12 year olds. Currently.
Anyway, the general gist of the announcement is that Benny has made the football team! He’s adorably happy about it. Tucker meanwhile has not made the team. Surprisingly he doesn’t seem at all upset or even surprised by this. Maybe he doesn’t actually care for sport, he just likes to be included in things.
Mr Mitchell doesn’t miss the opportunity to drop a sick burn though. “Jenkins, since you have difficulty even staying at your proper desk, I doubt you could hold a position on a football field.”
Have I mentioned I love Mr Mitchell?
It is break time now (do any actual lessons ever happen at this school?), and Judy is waiting for her new friend Trisha like a lovesick puppy.
Sadly, Trisha just walks straight past without even noticing her. Oh Judy. Poor, lonely, painfully relatable Judy.
Things go from bad to worse when the world’s most 30 year old looking 15 year olds circle in:
Luckily, they are also the most incompetent bullies in London, and a teacher walking to his car on the other side of the playground is enough to distract them long enough for Judy to run away.
Unluckily, Judy is an idiot too.
Having been saved by virtue of their being people around, she… runs inside and into a room where there are no people? And Jackie Heron and co can bully her to their hearts content? Dammit Judy, now you have to suffer being tormented and we have to suffer some dodgy acting.
Jackie very unconvincingly threatens to punch Judy, but this is scary enough for poor Miss Preston, who is already having a horrible no good very bad day.
Jackie, Brenda, and Lucy (did these bullies escape from an Enid Blyton novel? What is going on) proceed to empty Judy’s pockets on the pretence of it being Jackie’s birthday, and her needing a present. Jackie pinches Judy’s entire 20p, the fiend! And that not being enough, takes Judy’s dead grandad’s pen too! Will Judy bring Jackie money to get the pen back? Such thrilling scenes. I can hardly contain my excitement. When do we get to see Mr Mitchell again, I’m bored.
Never fear, Trisha is here!
Seeing a dishevelled and visibly upset Judy, Trisha wrongly but wholly understandably assumes this was Tucker’s doing, because Tucker is The Worst and to be fair this does seem like something he’d do.
Judy however is too upset for Trisha right now, and dramatically runs off, asking to be left alone.
I wonder what Secondary Character Form are doing right now. I wonder if it’s anything more exciting.
The next day (although there is nothing to indicate it is the next day until a few moments later when someone says “yesterday”), Judy is moping along the road.
You know what the worst part is? I’ve watched all of Grange Hill before and I know this isn’t even the most boring episode, by a long shot. That comes in series 2. God help us all.
But wait, poor unsuspecting Judy! A villain lurks around the corner!
They pounce on poor Judy, asking her where the money is to get Grandpapa’s pen back. Clearly they have nothing better to do too, a whole school full of (at this point in the show largely weirdly posh) kids, and yet you’re so obsessed with getting barely enough money to buy a tesco meal deal off this one 11 year old? Get yourselves together. I mean we’ve seen how abandoned the cloak rooms are at break time, you could get more money just going through people’s coat pockets you losers. (Disclaimer: I do not endorse theft.)
Anyway, they tell Judy to get the money while she’s home for lunch, where she is apparently going, because this is apparently lunchtime the next day, and this episode apparently has very odd pacing. Apparently.
The camera then pans out to reveal that Jackie, her Enid Blyton bully friends, and Judy are all severely short sighted, as they don’t see the Yates sisters gawping at them from directly across a completely empty road.
Carol Yates is sadly also severely short sighted, as when Trisha points to a group of three adult looking girls and one 11 year old and says “That girl’s in my class!”, Carol feels the need to ask “Which one?”
Except then Carol suddenly recognises Jackie and her merry chums as being in her class, and tells Trisha that Judy shouldn’t have anything to do with them?? Perhaps Carol is just a bit thick.
The scene then abruptly cuts to Carol and Trisha walking back to school again after lunch, because the pacing in this episode is horrendous. Trisha claims to want to buy something from the shop Jackie and the gang seemingly spend their entire lives outside of and crosses the road, and we get a lovely shot of Carol’s massive 70s hairdo:
As Trisha walks into the shop, unnoticed, because everyone in Northam is as blind as a bat, we see that Jackie and her jolly pals have taken my advice and started picking on an even tinier child:
Trisha dithers about watching Jackie and The Scary Squad do some unconvincing bullying, until Carol turns up to nag Trisha about taking so long, before flouncing off back to school by herself. On her way past, Brenda (or possibly Lucy, I wasn’t keeping track of which was which) gives Jackie a slight shove, knocking her into Carol and knocking Carol’s bag to the floor. We see that bully-terrifying runs in the family, as Jackie is absolutely scared witless of the almighty Carol Yates in all her rage.
Carol orders a trembling Jackie to pick her bag up for her, then storms off, leaving all who witnessed her awed by her power. (Look, I said she was a bit thick, I never said she wasn’t cool.)
Judy meanwhile, walking past on the other side of the road, was attempting to use the distraction to get away unnoticed, but alas, Jackie’s eyes decided to choose that moment to start working, and Judy is spotted. Judy breaks into a sprint, Jackie & co give chase, and Trisha sprints after them, still unnoticed somehow.
Judy, who is also perhaps a bit thick (hey, it’s not her fault, maybe people at this school wouldn’t be so thick if they ever actually had lessons), has seemingly learnt nothing from yesterday, and sprints into the exact same empty cloakroom as before. But never fear! Our Trish is here!
Trisha bravely and heroically pushes between Jackie and Judy, yelling at Jackie to let her Judy go! Oh, the thrills!
“Who are you, the bionic woman?” says Jackie, unaware that the answer might as well be “yes”.
“You won’t find me a pushover, big mouth,” says local hero and icon Trisha Yates, master of the badass one-liners.
Jackie threatens to see Trisha and Judy after school, before running away like a coward because another pupil just entered the room. This turns out to be a friend of Carol’s, who recognises Trisha. This sweet and kind older girl asks Trisha if she’s okay and if she needs help, but sadly Trisha’s bravery and heroism has slipped into the realms of stupidity, and she has decided to brashly pretend everything is fine and that she can look after herself. Oh Trisha.
Great news everyone! Mr Mitchell is in the next scene!
Okay, admittedly, he’s just kind of in the background while everyone packs up their things and leave, and Trisha and Judy have a chat about how badly they’re gonna get their backsides kicked because Trisha doesn’t know when to admit she needs help, but isn’t it thrilling just to see him? To know he’s there? I want Mr Mitchell to adopt me.
Trisha compares Jackie Heron to Tucker again, and she has a point. They’re both bullies, they both threaten to fight people despite being tiny, and they even have the same Default Grange Hill Haircut.
Trisha and Judy share a few friendly goodnights with Mr Mitchell, then bravely go to meet their fate.
Judy, who is still in possession of some brain cells, wonders if perhaps they should’ve informed the true hero Mr Mitchell that they were off to get their backsides kicked. Trisha, however, firmly denies it. She got them into this mess alone and goddammit she’s determined to see it through alone.
“I’m scared, Trisha,” whimpers Judy.
“There’s nothing to be scared about!” lies Trisha.
Trisha tries to distract Judy with some pointless chat about Top Of The Pops, but sadly that is Cool People TV, and Judy is not a Cool People. They then launch into a conversation about the thrilling tale of the time Trisha got her ears pierced. Thankfully, the true hero comes to save us before we’re too far down that rabbit hole.
Mr Mitchell asks why they’re both still in school, telling boring anecdotes in the doorway. Trisha tells him that they’re “waiting for someone”, not telling him that in this case “someone” is code for their imminent backside kicking.
Mr Mitchell makes a face that just screams “yes I definitely believe you”, then leaves, bidding them another goodnight.
Judy, ever the wise one, still thinks they should chase after Mr Mitchell and tell them about Jackie And Friends. Trisha is afraid this would make the Jolly Hockey Sticks Trio pick on them even more. This launches into a philosophical discussion about why people bully.
“Because they’re stupid!” says Trisha, with feeling. “They haven’t got any brains!”
Hey! That’s my line!
At this point, Mr Garfield, traditional grumpy school caretaker, turns up to shout at them.
Anyway, he turfs the girls out the building so he can do his traditional grumpy school caretaker things in peace. It’s time for our girls to meet their backside kicking with dignity.
Somewhere across the school, Carol and Random Friend Of Carol’s watch from a window as Trish and Judy march across the playground.
They continue watching as Trish and Judy break into a sprint, pursued by three old looking posh girls with murder in their eyes and backside kicking in their minds. Carol and Random Friend decide to join the chase.
Brenda and Lucy leg it and flee as Carol and Random Friend Of Carol’s corner them, while Jackie gets pinned to a wall by the almighty Carol Yates.
Trisha chooses this moment to finally snitch, and tells Carol all about poor Grandad Preston’s pen. Carol forcefully orders Jackie to give the pen back, and the 20p as well, and Jackie is unable to refuse in the presence of the incredible power of Carol Yates.
With Jackie Heron running for the hills, Carol turns on Trisha.
“You idiot!” she snaps.
Hey! That’s my line too!
Carol correctly tells Trisha she’s an idiot for not telling anyone she was going to get her backside kicked, and that she’s lucky Random Friend (whose name is actually apparently Mary) does know when to snitch.
Mary tells Trisha in her best public information film voice that she should have told a teacher, but Trisha tells her that mama didn’t raise no snitch, or something like that.
Carol has to use her powers to get Trisha and Judy to listen to her best public information film voice, and tells them, and the audience, that if anything like this happens again, to tell an adult they trust, and the episode ends on everyone smiling and going off to have some tea.