Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Waterloo Road isn't a school but a place for actors and kids to do soapy stuff and quip a lot

School was never like this when tv-ooh was there. In fact, things are all a bit jolly at Waterloo Road - give or take the odd schoolgirl abduction by a man in a white van.

Which might be a bit odd for a programme described as 'a gritty drama about a failing inner city comprehensive school'.

The Road - as its fans might call it - doesn't often feel that gritty, or even much like a school: the scenes set in the staff room feel only seconds away from becoming a group of actors standing around talking about Equity pay rates or their next audition, rather than teachers ensuring the next generation of adults are up to scratch, or at least know their way around a sum or two.

This is no rooted-in-fact heavyweight drama about falling standards in our schools.

Instead it's a gay old skip through staff-room power-play and a showcase for the slightly hesitant acting techniques of inexperienced teenage actors not celebrated since the days of Grange Hill.

And why not eh? It's soapy all the way, and probably all the more popular for it.

Like with Jez, the new PE teacher (we know he's a PE teacher because he wears tracksuits), dealing with the implications of getting your kids back when your ex-wife dumps them on you and your new wife.

He's joined the school with his new wife, and fellow teacher, Sian (played by Jaye Jacobs, fresh from Holby and sometimes forgetting she no longer needs to be Bristolian) but the kids' arrival has caused all sorts of upset, perfect for filling the airtime.


"What about a Chinese tonight?", Jez asks his son Zack.

"As long as you don't drum with the chopsticks," replies the 14-year-old.

They'd had a bit of bother earlier (the whole Jez-abandoning-him-thing) which is now on its way to being sorted via a takeway.

Phew. Another new addition to the cast is Sarah Hadland, better known as Stevie in Miranda and also seen as a slightly flirty airline employee in James Bond's A Quantum of Solace.

She's arrived to do a turn as new Head of English Linda Radleigh and is inevitably 'ruffling a few feathers' amid cute and quippy lines ("A faint heart never won a fair maiden!") and odd snatches of Francais - you see, character! - plus some crazy old driving of a battered old Golf.

Miranda-style comedy asides straight down the camera cannot be far away.


But there's more - Linda Radleigh's got a bit of 'previous' with the head-teacher Michael Byrne, who in turn, also has 'previous' with Sian.

"I should never have left you," says Michael to Sian over some after-school spreadsheet work on the school laptop, as he hands her a single malt as a nightcap.

"You know what, I never really liked whisky," Sian says, all meaningfully, as she gets up, smooths down the skirt of her camel-coloured two piece suit she likes to wear a lot, and leaves; while he's left to ponder his lines for next week.

And tv-ooh will be there.

1 comment:

  1. Fab read.
    I've had to give up this particular guilty pleasure, the husband was threatening to throw himself under a car if I carried on watching.

    But, I still have Holby, Enders, and Corrie (not to mention Doctors when he's at work!)