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Episode 17: A Hit For A Miss
First shown: 2 January 1971 (US), 2 April 1971 (UK)
Director: Harry Booth
Writers: Glyn Jones and Harry Booth
Appearing apart from the Double Deckers:
Georgina Simpson as Miss Petit
Damaris Hayman as Miss Finch
Brian Hayes as the Head Master
John Clive, Lucy Griffiths and Bryan Hunt as amdram members

Plot

Billie and Tiger are jealous of the boys' attraction to Miss Pettit, the new teacher. But they are won over by working together on a show to help an old people's home.



Soundtrack

The boys alone sing "With A Little Bit Of Love", by Ivor Slaney and Glyn Jones. It's one of Jones' better songs, but the performance is a bit ragged especially on the higher notes, and we definitely miss Billie's voice keeping them in line.



The climax of the episode, and thus of the entire series, is everyone except Tiger singing "Fat Ladies", by Ivor Slaney and Michael Begg, the boys in drag. The kindest thing to say is that not all aspects of Double Deckers have aged well.



Glorious Moments

The sequence of the boys attempting to clear up the den is a good bit of slapstick. (NB that the vacuum cleaner doesn't seem to be plugged in.)



The first song is well-choreographed (shame about the singing).

Less glorious moments

It is a bit jarring to be honest. The scenes where each of the kids sees Miss Pettit as their own fantasy are well dodgy - for Springer she's a Hawaiian maiden (wrong ocean, folks); for Sticks a Calamity Jane type.



The old people's home for which they are supposedly raising money is also conspicuous by its absence.

And the "Fat Ladies" song... a very disappointing last note for the show.

What's all this then?

This episode opens up new areas to explore. It's the first time we've seen the gang at school. The boys' attraction to Miss Pettit, and Billie's jealousy of her, is the first real acknowledgement of grown-up things like relationships; it's all bee pretty chaste up till now. If there had been a second series, this might have been fertile ground for plot development. (Or, in fairness, it might just have been excruciating; this episode is a little embarrassing as it is.)



The Hot Teacher trope is one of the oldest in the book, and the usual outcome is, as here, that it's a learning experience for the pupils without the relationship being consummated (even though we tend to remember the minority where it does lead to mutual romance). It's rarer though for the boys to have a crush on a young woman teacher; one recent movie which could have fed into this (rather indirectly) might be The Graduate (1967).



Who's That?

Georgina Simpson (Miss Pettit), born in 1946, had a pretty brief acting career between 1967 and 1972, of which the high point was playing Blanche (one of Lucy's posh Belgian pupils) in a BBC adaptation of Villette earlier in 1970. She married the actor/director Anthony Andrews in 1971. Her family owned Simpsons of Piccadilly, the inspiration for Are You Being Served? - the building now houses the big Waterstone's.



Damaris Hayman (Miss Pike) is revered by Doctor Who fans as the white witch Miss Hawthorne in The Dæmons (1971). Born in 1929, she appeared in a string of minor character parts from 1953 to 1995. (Doctor Who seems to have been the best known thing she did, but I remember her also in The Small World of Samuel Tweet, a short-lived BBC kids sitcom from 1974.)

Brian Hayes (the Headmaster), born in 1912, has the same name as a member of the European Parliament who I know. His biggest role seems to have been the stationmaster in the 1968 TV version of The Railway Children, which starred Jenny Agutter as Roberta and Gillian "Billie" Bailey as Phyllis. He died in 1983.



John Clive (one of the amdrams), born in 1933, got a couple of leading roles in chldrens shows later in the 1970s - the titular Robert in Roberts Robots (1973), and Rosko in the 1974 show Perils of Pendragon - and then turned to writing from 1977. He died in 2012.

Lucy Griffiths (another amdram), born in 1919, played minor roles of spinsters and then little old ladies from 1952 until 1981; she died in 1982.

Bryan Hunt (third amdram) has six credited roles in IMDB from 1964 to 1971. (There's also one given for 1999, but I think this must be someone with the same name, as the part is "Young Toby".)



Where's that?

The school is St Teresa's Catholic Primary School on Brook Road in Borehamwood, around the corner from the studio. Another scene is shot on Barton Way, ten minutes' walk from the school.

See you next week...

...well, I'm afraid not. Although the gang cheerfully sing the closing line at the end, this is the final episode. But I will do a roundup post in due course.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
bellinghman
Jun. 19th, 2016 04:09 pm (UTC)
Hmm, now that's a name I've not seen in a long time: Damaris Hayman. My sisters used to know her, and I think I met her once or twice.

(She worked in a couple of episode of The Citadel with my late aunt Anne Tirard. Who also managed a few Dr Who episodes, but not the same ones)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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