Grange Hill Series 1 Episode 3 – A Review

(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.

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Sadly for my eyeballs it’s still 1978 and colours other than grey and beige still haven’t been invented.

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:

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Does this look like the face of mercy?

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?

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Of course.

 

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.

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Wow. Such wealth.

 

Meanwhile, at school, Tucker is doing what he does best: dangerous misbehaviour.

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Why are you the way that you are?

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.

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Is this what the kids call a “vibe check”? No seriously I’m still not sure what a vibe check is and at this point I’m too afraid to ask. Please help. I’m 23 and I already feel ancient.

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.

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Truly iconic.

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.)

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Ladies and gentlemen I’m afraid I have no choice but to stan.

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!

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Oh you sweet exasperated man, the light of my life, you deserve so much more.

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.

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No matter how old I get I will never understand how some people have difficulty just shutting up. I promise you don’t have to be talking all of the time.

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.

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Oh Judy.

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:

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What is WITH these girls?

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.

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Remind me to write a thing sometime about that weird era in British TV where the younger child actors were far and away the best actors in almost every show. Because this very much falls into that category. The 70s were weird.

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!

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God I can’t wait for it to be the 80s and for colours to be invented.

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.

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To be fair this is how I looked going to school every day.

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!

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I’ve been trying to figure out roughly how old this actress actually is because it’s not like I have anything better to do, but to no avail. I’m certain she’s older than 15 though.

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.

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Trisha’s Trish senses must have been tingling. That or she just has functioning eyes and ears, unlike everyone else in Northam.

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:

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Now That’s What I Call Fashion(tm)

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:

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She doesn’t even look scared, more mildly inconvenienced.

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.

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See her cower.

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!

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Finally! Some excitement!

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.

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Random Friend Of Carol’s is my new favourite character.

Great news everyone! Mr Mitchell is in the next scene!

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There he is!! The true hero!!

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.

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You know, I never noticed how shiny these walls are before. Huh.

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.

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*THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE*

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.

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I mean same. Big mood.

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.

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Normally I’d complain or make some comment but I’m still impressed with how shiny the walls are so he gets a free pass to shout at people from me this episode.

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.

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There they go, what fun!

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.

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We should all be glad that Carol only uses her powers for good.

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.

What larks.

Grange Hill Series 1 Episode 2 – A Review

In this episode: Mr Foster continues to be The Worst, and Mr Mitchell continues to be The Best.

The episode begins, much like the last, with Benny and his football in the incredibly grey school carpark.

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Why does he turn up to school so early every day? Oh dear sweet Benny, I wish I understood you.

Benny is such a carefree and happy boy when he’s with his football, he doesn’t even pay attention to his surroundings. The episode decides to turn into a public information film momentarily, as Our Benny steps out in front of a car without looking. There’s a horrible screeching of brakes, and luckily the car stops just in time.

The best character in the entire show steps out to deliver a lesson on carpark safety.

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Tufty the Squirrel what? Green Cross Code Man who? Sorry, I only know one road safety icon and his name is Mr Mitchell.

“The cemeteries are full of children who didn’t look!” fumes Mr Mitchell. A wonderful line that could very easily be from one of my favourite PIFs. Honestly, this was the golden age of PIFs, it was a missed opportunity not making actual Public Information Films starring Grange Hill characters. Anyway, I’m getting off track, I’m here to talk about Grange Hill, not PIFs. Remind me to do a separate post about PIFs in the future if you’re really interested. (And remember: on the roads near home, stop, think, then go. A-woo woo woo woo wooo.)

Back in Grange Hill, Mr Mitchell stops lecturing Benny, and instead tells him to try out for the school football team, which Benny is eager to do. But there’s a problem! Benny doesn’t have football boots! Benny looks genuinely upset at the idea that he might not be able to try out, but Mr Mitchell just gently tells him “we’ll see”, with a face that tells us he’s going to try and fix this problem. This is why Mr Mitchell is great. He can be furiously yelling at a kid, but the minute that kid is sad or has a problem, Mitch forgets all anger and instead becomes determined the help. Have I told you I love Mr Mitchell lately?

Anyway, here’s Alan and David, walking into school.

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Silly David. You shouldn’t be here, you got sorted into Background Character Form.

I wonder what Alan’s surname is today? Will it be Hargreaves, Turner, or something else entirely?

Well whatever, David No-Last-Name-Given and Alan Fitzgerald-For-All-I-Know are peacefully walking into school, without a care in the world. Surely nothing can ruin the cheerful quiet chat they’re having. Who would dare disturb them?

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Oh. Silly question.

“What did you do that for? You nut! That wasn’t clever, was it?” says David. David is wise beyond his years. What a shame this is the last we’ll ever see of him.

But never mind that, for an even greater menace to Grange Hill society than Tucker Jenkins approaches.

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[Imperial March plays in the background]

Truly Mr Foster is the anti-Mr Mitchell. Mr Mitchell gets the kids to behave by earning their trust and respect, by treating them like human beings worthy of his respect. Mr Mitchell truly cares about the kids and would never do anything to hurt them, and  truly wants what’s best for all of them, even if that means bending the rules a little.

Mr Foster meanwhile gets the kids to behave by making sure he is the most terrifying thing in their life. Mr Foster doesn’t respect the kids, or care in the slightest what problems of their own they might have. He doesn’t care how his actions hurt the kids, be it mentally, physically, or in terms of hurting their chances of fulfilling their own potential. He only cares that everyone sticks rigidly to the rules, which must never be bent or broken. He is the very definition of lawful evil, and he is everything I think someone responsible for children, be they a teacher or a parent, should never be.

Sure, Tucker is a little git who deserves to be told off, but he doesn’t deserve to be treated as less than human. He’s 12 at the very oldest. At least 50% of humans are little gits at that age, and they won’t learn to be better people unless they are shown a good example.

Treating all those less powerful than you as lesser and using force to discipline those who are “lesser” is not a good example, especially to a child who’s already developing selfish and violent tendencies.

Luckily Mr Mitchell and Mrs Jenkins are here, and I’m sure together they can help Tucker grow out of his little git-ish ways and grow into a fine upstanding young man any mother would be proud of. Because they’re the best.

In this particular scene, Mr Foster talks in the menacing tone of a supervillain while 11 year old children literally cower in fear.

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Poor sweet David.

He still somehow thinks he is in the right here.

Mr Foster then recognises Tucker as the same child he hit  in assembly just a few days ago.

Tucker, who is brave but foolish, lies to Mr Foster’s face and claims it wasn’t him. Perhaps Tucker has a death wish.

Mr Foster tells them to clear off “before they do something to really upset him”. I would hate to say Mr Foster really upset, if this is him not really upset.

Alan, ever the sensible one of the group, decides to try and stay out of Mr Foster’s way.

“The size of this place, we’ll probably never see him again!” says Tucker. Tucker seems to have greatly misunderstood the purpose of school, as he seems not to realise that he will actually have to go to lessons, and see teachers.

Meanwhile, Justin has, for some bizarre reason, not only turned up for PE, but seemingly been the first one there.

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Please take a moment to appreciate how almost everyone has the same haircut.

Quite understandably, Justin looks like he’s about to throw up. I relate. PE lessons are a strange form of torture forced upon the weedy and unfit youth.

Just at this moment, Tucker very loudly enters the scene.

“Is this changing room three?” he asks, while staring at a changing room door with the number three on it.

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This is easy. Use your eyes.

Having finally arrived, Tucker decides to ask the closest thing to a nearby responsible authority figure for advice.

Unfortunately, Justin is new too, and doesn’t know if they should go in and change. He thinks it wisest if they just wait for the teacher to arrive, and all the other kids follow his lead, as well they should. Many teachers don’t want you in a room unattended, so waiting outside if you’re unsure is a very sensible course of action. Well done, Justin.

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An angel.

Unfortunately, Mr Foster doesn’t see it that way, as he turns up to yell at pre-pubescent kids for not magically knowing something they’d never been told.

Turns out he wanted them changed and ready to go by the time he arrived. These children, who I must stress started the school only a few days ago, did not instantly and psychically know this, and now Mr Foster is Very Angry that the laws of reality did not bend to his will.

Tucker, clearly miffed at being so spectacularly outdone at being The Worst, decides to take this out on Justin, and calls him “stupid”. Tucker is clearly projecting.

But wait! SOMEBODY is late for PE!

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Run, Benny, run!

Benny. Sweetheart. Darling boy. You were literally one of the first in school! How the heck are you late for your first lesson? What were you doing??

Whatever he was doing, what he is doing now is getting directions from a very polite boy, who is clearly also a non-conformist rebel, as he doesn’t have the default Grange Hill haircut.

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Truly an icon.

He’s clearly also bunking, as it’s five minutes since the start of a lesson, and he seems to be walking the way Benny just came, towards the exit. My personal hero and role model. (Yes, OKAY, you could say he’s just running an errand, but that’s not as much fun, is it?)

“By the way, who you got?” says the polite revolutionary.

“Some geezer called Foster” replies poor naive Benny.

“Hard luck,” says the nice boy with the cool ‘do, as he walks away to go smoke behind the bike sheds, or wherever he’s off to. Understatement of the century, methinks.

Meanwhile, Tucker is doing his very best to reclaim his crown as The Worst. He has decided to start bullying Justin for no good reason.

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I want to like you Tucker Jenkins, but you make it VERY HARD.

He viciously pushes Justin into a bench, easily hard enough to leave a bruise. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!

Mr Foster, meanwhile, has decided to loom over the kids while “outlining a few simple and basic rules”.

This is progress I suppose. It’s an improvement on just expecting the kids to know what you want instinctively and then getting mad when they don’t.

Wait, nope, never mind, he’s decided to physically assault a child who hasn’t even done anything wrong yet.

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Here’s a fun tip: if you hate kids, DON’T WORK WITH KIDS.

Meanwhile, Benny is still trying to find the right changing rooms, even after the coolest kid in school gave him directions. He finally enters a door. Not the right door mind you, but a door none the less:

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This is progress?

All this while Mr Foster is still yelling at/roughly manhandling children, as per. He whacks a few kids round the head too for good measure. What a delightful human being.

Mr Foster still hates Tucker. Understandable maybe, but he doesn’t have to show it. He claims Tucker’s kit looks scruffy, despite it not looking noticeably different from anyone else’s.

Oh, and Benny is now half naked in front of a bunch of older girls.

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Oh dear. If only Benny had bunked off with the speccy kid instead.

This is normal Grange Hill behaviour, you’ll get used to it.

We then cut back to Mr Foster terrorising kids for no reason in particular.

I hope you appreciate how hard it is to keep finding new things to say about this episode, it’s very repetitive.

Mr Foster threatens to hit any child who injures themselves on the ropes with the ropes, being Mr Foster is The Worst.

He also continues to pick on Tucker, because nothing says “I am fit to be responsible for children’s wellbeing” like baring grudges against one child because he disrespected your authority one time.

But never mind, because here comes half naked Benny to distract him.

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Tucker’s never been so happy to see a small shirtless boy in his life. This is the kind of thing friendships are built on.

It turns out if there’s one thing Mr Foster hates more than children, it’s poor children. He’s furious that Benny’s parents couldn’t afford the strip, and orders Benny find one to borrow, despite the fact that Benny is clearly the tiniest child in the world, and even if anyone just happened to have a spare kit on them, it wouldn’t fit him. Mr Foster doesn’t care about this.

“That’s your problem. Use your initiative.” he says. I am really not a fan of Mr Foster.

Later in the changing room, Mr Foster forces boys to shower and continues to publicly shame Benny for being poor, and Tucker continues to bully Justin.

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Tucker. You are awful.

Scenes like this are very uncomfortable for me, because Tucker very strongly reminds me of my own school bully, and scenes like this make it clear that it’s all just a joke to kids like Tucker, and they don’t even realise the serious and long lasting effect it can have on the mental health of kids like Justin, or me. It’s not funny when you’re the butt of the joke, and it’s not funny when no-one takes you seriously when you say you’re upset because “well everyone else was laughing!”, and it’s not funny when people tell you to just grow a thicker skin or not take it so personally, and it’s not funny when all throughout school you find it hard to make friends because your bully is friends with all the kids you like, and even after leaving school you still find it hard to make friends because your confidence has been completely shattered, and even when people are nice to them a voice in your brain tells you that they’re just pretending so that they can make fun of you. It’s. Not. Funny.

But anyway, that got super deep and personal, back to the funny lighthearted reviews, way-hey!

You know, if anything’s it’s made worse by the fact that unlike other bullies on TV, Tucker isn’t heartless. Tucker isn’t really a bad kid. He’s determined to help Benny get the kit together so he can enter the football trials, awwwwww. He steals Justin’s shirt to give to Benny. Less awwwwww. It’s clear he just doesn’t realise how awful he’s being to Justin. Tucker has a heart, he just doesn’t have empathy or self awareness, yet. But there is hope for him! It just might take a while.

Tucker has even roped in Alan to help Benny! Alan is the coolest, most no-nonsense kid in the year, so much so that he even gets to hang out with kids from Main Character Form, despite only being in Secondary Character Form at the moment.

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To be fair this is my face whenever Tucker speaks too.

Tucker’s grand plan is for Alan to lend Benny his boots, despite the fact that Alan is clearly twice the size of Benny.

Look, I said Tucker had a heart, not a brain.

The true hero of the show decides to investigate why the National Preteen Moron Convention is happening outside his door.

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Imagine whooping, cheering, and thunderous applause in the background. And that’s just from me.

Benny and Tucker explain the problem. Everyone makes a big deal out of how unnaturally tiny Benny’s feet are and how no other boy is going to have boots that small. I feel you, Benny.

Mr Mitchell tells Tucker and Benny to get along to the form room, and that he’ll be along in a minute.

“Something might turn up,” he says, like a sweetheart who could not make it more obvious he’s about to go and sort it for them. Tucker and Benny of course remain oblivious.

“Yeah, Mr Foster might break his neck in the gym this afternoon,” says Tucker. Alas no Tucker, it’s only series one, no-one going to actually die yet.

Mr Mitchell goes to visit Mr Foster, who is busy doing… this.

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Hey, maybe Tucker’s right, maybe he is going to break his neck.

Mr Mitchell refuses to come into the gym because he’s not wearing the correct shoes, and Mr Foster, King of Lack of Self Awareness, says he “wishes everyone to could be as thoughtful” as Mr Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell seems wonderfully subtly annoyed by Mr Foster.

“Did I ever tell you how much it cost to have that floor renovated?” grumbles Mr Foster.

“About a hundred times,” says Mr Mitchell, wearily. I love him.

Mr Mitchell tells Mr Foster how good Benny is at football, and how much he wants to play, and how sad it is that Benny can’t afford the boots.

Mr Foster, in so many words, tells Mr Mitchell that he gives less that a rats backside about Benny Green, and he only cares about The Rules. The Rules are to be followed to the letter at all times and not bent for anyone, regardless of the circumstances.

Mr Mitchell has a very relatable reaction:

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Me too, Tony, Me too.

Mr Mitchell arrives at the Main Character Form Room, where Trisha, bored by how little any of the girls have to do in this episode, has found something more interesting to pay attention to.

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I can’t tell what magazine it is, but it doesn’t look quite appropriate for her age group.

Sadly, Mr Mitchell confiscates it and forces Trisha to pay attention to the plot. Bad luck Trish.

Mr Mitchell asks all the main characters if anyone has a solution to Benny’s lack of boots. Ann Wilson suggests he borrow a pair. Tucker, projecting again, calls her stupid as well.

Hughesy, actual sunshine boy and light of my life, decides to brighten up the very boring proceedings by telling a bad joke.

“I could ask our dog sir, he’s very keen on sports.”

Mr Mitchell, knowing the set-up for a very old joke when he sees one and as keen as anyone for some entertainment, decides to play along.

“Is he Hughes? And why’s that?”

“He’s a Boxer sir!”

Everyone groans, apart from Hughesy, who is busy laughing at his own joke.

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This child is a delight.

Ann Wilson actually has a sensible idea, because of course she does. If anyone here was going to have a sensible idea, it would be Ann “Brains of the Year Group” Wilson. She suggests that Benny borrow her hockey boots because they’re just like football boots really, and the hockey trials finish just before the football trials.

Well done Ann! You have saved us all.

Sometime later, and it’s time for the football trials.

Mr Foster is coming to inspect everyone to make sure they have the correct kit, but oh no! Ann Wilson hasn’t delivered the boots yet!

It’s time to turn Mr Foster’s own words on him and Use Initiative.

Mr Foster walks past Tucker, and the minute his back is turned, an act of extreme stealth takes place.

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This is the most exciting thing that happens this episode, so we might as well appreciate it.

This somehow works, even thought Tucker audibly says “gimme the boots” before Mr Foster has even left the room. We’re all lucky Mr Foster is apparently deaf.

Still wondering where Ann Wilson is, Tucker decides the best course of action is to try and walk right into the girls’ changing room.

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It seems Tucker is limited to only having one good idea per episode.

This goes about as well as can be expected, and with the female gym teacher now believing Tucker to be some kind of perv, Tucker retreats back to the boys’ changing room, as Ann Wilson finally arrives.

Ann tries to apologise and explain that she had to finish her game, but Tucker rudely interrupts her and snatches the boots, not even saying thank you.

“Thank you Ann. Don’t mention it Ann.” mutters Ann “Straight Savage” Wilson under her breath as she slopes off into her own changing room.

Mr Mitchell arrives on the scene to see if the plan is going smoothly.

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He cares about them so much! AU where Mr Mitchell adopts everyone.

“I hope after all this, Mr Foster is satisfied,” says Mr Mitchell, as he walks out to the pitch with Benny.

On the pitch, Mr Foster notices Benny’s hockey boots.

“Hold on a minute!” he says. How did you get past my inspection?”

Once again, our hero, an angel from heaven, Mr Mitchell steps in to save the day.

“You used your initiative, didn’t you Green?”

I LOVE TONY MITCHELL.

Mr Foster looks about as pleased as you would expect at being outsmarted.

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The face of a man realising children aren’t all as stupid as he thought. At least some of the time.

But he realises he can’t stop Benny playing now, and the day is won, and Benny gets to do what he always wants to do.

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Benny is in his happy place.

And this episode is finally over!

So what did we learn this week?

Well, P.E. teachers are evil, if a child partakes in dangerous behaviour, just tell them to channel that enthusiasm into a safer pastime, and even boys who disrespect women and terrorise wimpy kids have hearts, somewhere deep down inside. Very deep down.

Oh, and always use the green cross code. Because Mr Mitchell won’t be there when you cross the road.

 

Grange Hill, Series 1, Episode 1 – A Review

Oh boy.

So, I have, for some unfathomable reason, decided to watch and review every episode of long running CBBC school soap Grange Hill. Every. Single. One. in order. All 601 episodes, or 628 if we include the spin off, Tucker’s Luck. And you better believe we’re including Tucker’s Luck. And then if I’m still alive at the end, we’re doing the novels as well.

Oh boy.

So, full disclosure: I have watched (and read) all of it before. I do know my Grange Hill rather well. But! For the sake of the reviews and for the sake of anyone crazy enough to want to watch along with me, I shall treat every episode as though it is completely brand new. You will find no spoilers for anything that happens in an episode I haven’t reviewed yet.

With that in mind, let’s begin!

Our show starts, as so many do, with an intro. and what an intro it is.

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BA-DA-BA-BOW!

A jaunty and cheerful piece of music, paired with all the imagery needed to tell you all about Grange Hill: kids that never appear in the show, wearing a uniform completely different to the one worn in the show, and a FLYING SAUSAGE.

 

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I know we’re all distracted by the sausage itself, or by the face of the kid it’s flying at, but look at the face on the kid in the bottom left. That kid has seen this before.

Sadly, like all good things, the intro must eventually end, and we get our first glimpse of Grange Hill school itself, circa the late 70s. We can tell it’s the 70s, because everything is incredibly grey, and as we all know, colours other than grey and beige were outlawed in Britain until the 90s.

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An iconic building, that I’m sure is exactly what Grange Hill school will continue to look like for years to come.

We then see our first characters, a very grumpy caretaker, and the rarest of cryptids: a child who is early for school on the first day of term. This child is Benny Green, and he is tiny and adorable poor and mad about football. These are his two main character traits, and you can tell that from the off, by the fact that he is wearing his own scruffy clothes instead of uniform, and clutching his football. Personally I never understood the type of child that brings their own football everywhere, particularly to school, a place that houses many footballs, but then what do I know. I am not Football Mad.

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He is also wearing flared jeans, because it is THE SEVENTIES

We then abruptly cut to a completely different child’s bedroom, and it becomes obvious what this episode is. You know when a new kid’s show with an ensemble cast comes out these days, and the network’s youtube channel puts out little “Meet [insert character name here]” videos for each main character, basically introducing the audience to everyone and their personalities and traits quickly and easily in quick two minute character profiles? Well, maybe you don’t because you don’t watch kid’s TV anymore, because you’re a grownup. But I do, and trust me, they do do that.

But in 1978, youtube didn’t exist, so they had to do this instead. Dedicate the entire first episode to introducing each character in turn, with equal focus on all of them, and no plot.

I mean, I’m not complaining, it’s kinda cute. Just not much of an episode. More of a prologue, if you ask me. But anyway, back to the show.

This child shaped lump in the bed is Judy. Judy doesn’t want to go to school.

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I feel you, Judy. Trust me, I feel you.

Judy, it quickly becomes apparent, is the poshest and whiniest child in the world. She claims she can’t go to school because she has tummy pains. Her mother, in so many words, tells her she’s 3000% done with her nonsense and is sending her to school no matter what excuses she comes up with. Or something like that.

“It won’t be as bad as all that,” lies Mrs Preston. School is always as bad as all that, and any child as Enid Blyton-esque as young Judy here is going to get bullied into the middle of next year.

“It will,” whines Judy, poshly.

The scene basically carries on like that, so let’s skip to the next one.

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Judy Preston, mid-whine.

This next scene quickly introduces us to one of the best and most iconic characters ever put to screen:

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AN ICON AND A QUEEN

Look, I know I said I wouldn’t talk about things that haven’t happened yet, but it’s not much of a spoiler to say that most Grange Hill parents are AWFUL. At best rude and irresponsible and at worst all out abusive and neglectful. But not Mrs Jenkins. She is flawless in every way. And we can see this from her very first scene. She gently teases Alan and David, but with a smile, and complimenting them on how smart they look. An adult? Who is nice to children and treats them like human beings? In my Grange Hill? It brings a tear to the eye. It’s truly heartwarming how genuinely kind and warm hearted she is, especially when you see what she has to put up with.

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A teeny tiny Todd Carty, that’s what.

This delightful young man is Peter “Tucker” Jenkins. He rudely barges past his mother and tries to walk off to his new school without even looking at his mum, let alone saying goodbye. This is because he is a Bad Boy and a Rebel, and has not yet matured enough to know that even Cool Rebels are nice to their mothers. Don’t worry, he has all the time in the world to do some growing up, as he is currently the world’s tiniest child, but that doesn’t mean I can’t point out what a rude little boy he is right now, and disagree with the show trying to get me to side with him.

He tuts and complains while Mrs Jenkins tries to fix his tie for him, and rolls his eyes at her when she offers to walk with him. And still doesn’t say goodbye. Good grief Tucker, learn some manners.

(David politely says goodbye to Mrs Jenkins as she waves them off, because he is a nice boy. I hope he ditches Tucker and gets better friends.)

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I don’t have a caption for this picture, I just wanted to share it because it’s adorable. D’awwwwww.

What follows is a small pointless scene where Benny kicks his ball at a brick wall with no windows on it, is told off by the caretaker for kicking his ball around there because he’ll break the windows, and is instead redirected to kick his ball around in a courtyard, where there are many windows.

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Perhaps the point of this scene is to show that Benny is a nice boy, because he doesn’t immediately boot his football through the nearest window just to teach the guy a lesson.

Hey, you remember what I said about typical Grange Hill parents?

Mrs Yates is AWFUL.

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One big unhappy dysfunctional family.

She hasn’t got a single kind word for either of her daughters, and seems to treat them as more of an inconvenience than anything else. It’s no wonder Trisha is the way she is.

Trisha, it appears, is trying to take Judy’s crown as British Whining Champion 1978. She wants to go to school in tights and high heels and make up, and asks her mother why Carol’s allowed and she isn’t. Mrs Yates, by way of reply, reacts like Trisha’s just asked her why she’s not allowed to drown puppies for fun. Although, knowing Mrs Yates, she probably wouldn’t see anything wrong with that.

Carol attempts to escape her ridiculous family and actually get to school on time. Mrs Yates does not approve of this at all, and insists that the two girls walk to school together. Showing complete disregard for her daughters’ actual feelings, she insists that Carol wants to walk with Trisha, that Carol likes Grange Hill, and that Trisha will like Grange Hill. Whether she wants to or not.

It’s nearly finally time to actually see some school.

Judy is being frogmarched through the gates by her mother:

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Better luck escaping it next time, Judy.

And Northam’s second poshest child is arriving by car.

Justin Bennett, for it is he, is very nervous. He nervously exits the car, nervously waves his father goodbye, and nervously watches his father drive away.

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As a side note, check out those bikes in the background! Who came to school on those? The owners of those bikes for new Best Characters.

He then nervously walks into the school, carrying an adorable little briefcase, and being adorably polite to a teacher. N’awwww, he’s like a tiny little 40 year old businessman.

New first years are gathering in the assembly hall. But wait! Somebody isn’t there! Somebody is late, on their first day!

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GOTTA GO FAST

She’s in a such a hurry, she doesn’t even close the front door behind her. People were more honest and trusting in those days, clearly.

Meanwhile in assembly, children are being assigned to form groups, or in other words, being assigned to Main Character or Background Character. This is a very important moment in any character’s life, as I’m sure you can tell, and most pupils look suitably serious.

Tucker, on the other hand, is being a little twerp as usual. He catapults elastic bands at various girls’ heads and laughs when they look hurt or upset, because respecting women isn’t what Cool Kids do.

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News just in: Tucker Jenkins still The Worst.

Judy Preston has been assigned to the Main Character form group, and looks suitably terrified. I would be too, especially if I was poor posh spineless Judy.

Meanwhile, a teacher has arrived to tell Tucker off, but I cannot enjoy it, because the teacher in question is Even Worse. He physically grabs Tucker, calls Tucker “stupid”, shouts into his face, and hits Tucker around the head, hard enough to make an audible thunk. I know times have changed, but jesus! This might be a controversial opinion, but physically assaulting children about half your size is never okay.

I bet this guy’s a PE teacher. Only PE teachers are this nasty. Any character that make me feel sorry for first year Tucker must be truly awful.

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Hey! Teacher! Leave those kids alone!

Meanwhile, Ann Wilson, our latecomer, is still not there.

“Does anyone know Ann Wilson?” says Mrs Monroe. Alas, nobody does. Poor Ann. Coming in late, and she doesn’t even know anyone. I already feel for her. Luckily for her however, she’s already been assigned to Main Character Form, unlike David, who has been assigned to Background Character Form. Alas, poor David. Maybe he’ll find better friends, at least.

We also finally get to meet Main Character Form’s glorious leader: Mr Mitchell, the coolest teacher in town! More on him later. For now it’s time to meet our designated Obvious Cartoonish Villains.

I think they’re too old for this school. They look about 30. Perhaps they’ve been held back several years, because they clearly have the sense of humour of an 8 year old. They think it is a Good Laugh to change the arrows on the signs for first years, and then to bamboozle poor Ann Wilson, who has finally arrived, and is far too trusting.

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Ann no! Don’t you know a Designated Cartoonish Villain when you see one?

Off skips poor oblivious Ann Wilson, in completely the wrong direction.

Meanwhile, Alan has just been assigned to Secondary Character Form. His full name is Alan Turner, according to Mrs Monroe. Bear that in mind, it’ll be important later.

Tucker hasn’t been called at all, and is left standing in the middle of the assembly all alone. Tucker isn’t on the list of new pupils. Perhaps Mrs Jenkins forgot to actually register him at the school. It’s okay, I forgive her. Mrs Jenkins can do no wrong.

Let’s check in on Main Character Form.

Mr Mitchell is being a Cool Adult. He’s very gentle and understanding about Benny’s lack of school uniform, and even takes Benny very seriously when he’s talking complete nonsense at him, as 11 year olds are prone to do. What a lovely man.

He continues to be lovely while speaking to the class as a whole. He explains that the reason they’re sitting in alphabetical order is for his benefit, as he is getting very old. Even when I was at school in the 00s and 2010s, many teachers would’ve just said “you do what I say because I say so”. Mr Mitchell is an angel. He’s so soft and gentle with the kids without being a pushover, I love him.

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❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Our wayward Ann Wilson has gone to square up against the Designated Cartoonish Villains. She has realised she was tricked, and like a legend who fears no-one, has decided to directly confront the bullies that tricked her.

“You’re not calling me a liar, are you?” says Main Designated Cartoonish Villain, villainously.

“Yes.” says Ann Wilson, in a matter of fact voice, like a straight savage.

The Designated Cartoonish Villains are angered by this, and storm off, refusing to tell Ann the correct directions. Our hero glares after them with the fury of a thousand suns.

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They’re going to regret the day they crossed Ann Wilson.

Meanwhile in the Main Character Form Room, Judy Preston and Justin Bennett are bonding. The combined nervous posh child energy may destroy the world.

They’re both very miserable to be in school. I relate. I can only hope they come out of it more mentally healthy than I did, though I’m not too optimistic.

“My mum says we’ll make lot of new friends,” says Judy, mournfully.

“I won’t. I hate this school,” says Justin, who has literally just stepped foot in the school for the first time about half an hour ago.

#BigMood, as the kids say.

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Judy looks like she’s contemplating death, and Justin’s so pale he looks like he’s already there.

Tucker, meanwhile, has been forgotten about. He’s just standing around picking his nose outside the office. Finally, a realistic portrayal of a preteen boy.

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Tucker you disgusting boy.

Mrs Monroe decides she has no choice but to put Tucker in the Main Character Form. What have you done, Mrs Monroe. The world isn’t ready.

Luckily, she then meets Ann Wilson in the corridor, and makes the wise decision of putting her in Main Character form as well.

Tucker and Ann get delivered to Mr Mitchell, who doesn’t even complain about Tucker messing up his alphabet system, because Mr Mitchell is lovely.

“Here they are, all present and correct, ready to start their new lives at Grange Hill. Let’s hope it will be a pleasant experience for them,” says Mrs Monroe.

“I’m sure it will,” lies Mr Mitchell. “One big happy family!”

On that note, Trisha hits Tucker with her ruler. I think I’m going to like her.

This is where the episode ends, but as the credits roll, there’s one more thing I want us all to pay attention to. You remember I told you to pay attention to Alan’s surname, Turner? Well…

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WHEN WILL THE LIES END??