(Series 9, ep.19) Christine’s descent back into alcohol hell was fairly predictable, given that not an episode goes by without she gazes longingly at a bottle at some point. I blame her handbags – they are conveniently big enough to conceal a bottle or a wine bag. She should go either small bag or string bag and there’d be far less temptation.
However, the bag situation is what it is and Christine’s situation was that she woke up next to a tattooed man whose name she didn’t know, and her bedroom carpet had been ruined by red wine.
Christine’s reputation was about to go the way of the bedroom carpet, when she was late for a meeting with Darren’s social worker and didn’t tell her about Darren’s penchant for pervy photography.
George was optimistic. “The occasional defeat doesn’t mean you’re losing the war,” he said. He didn’t know about Christine crashing her car and walking away (in odd shoes) at that point. Though he did know about the boozy breath and fuzzy teeth. Continue reading
(Series 9, ep.18) We know that Dynasty Barry is most certainly not the first Barry to have been interviewed by the police, but she’s the first one who’s been interviewed by them for a job and not as a suspect. However, despite doing probably the best interview they’ve ever seen (watching the elegant way she dealt with all the questions, I was thinking that scene should really be shown in schools to help future job-seekers), she was still haunted by being a Barry, as the woman interviewing her knew about her dad, who is currently banged up for armed robbery.
The key question (apart from the diversity one, which Dynasty handled beautifully by saying she had a sister who’d once contemplated a sex change, and that hadn’t thrown her) was whether she’d be able to arrest a member of her family. Dynasty had a little think – the question was rather less hypothetical for her than it would be for most people – and the answer was a resolute yes. Continue reading
(Series 9, ep.17) The issue of immigration, both legal and illegal, has been addressed more than once on Waterloo Road, and deportation of illegal immigrants has also featured, most recently with the character of Ndale. This time the situation was addressed differently, because the person due to be deported was fairly long-time cast member Lula Tsibi.
Most of the episode was, predictably, as mad as a box of frogs. Any situation which gives Audrey McFall the chance to get fired up with righteous fervour gets my vote, and in this she was prancing about, eyes sparkling as she announced that this time they would be “making history, not studying it.” I expected her to start brandishing her souvenir sword in an inspirational manner, but sadly she didn’t – she had her hands full with handing out marker pens to make placards and phoning the local press. Continue reading
(Series 9, ep.16) After only the briefest of happy interludes, the engagement of Vix and Nix is no more, thanks to Nikki being unable to resist the allure of Mr Hector Reid. If only Nikki and Hector hadn’t arrived at the school at the same time as Barry was dropping Gabriella off (in an Audi this week. Where is Barry getting all these different cars? It’s like Gone in 60 Seconds at that school gate at the moment). Gabriella, who is enjoying the pleasures of Barry but seems to have far more fun sniffing Hector’s boxing gloves, wasted no time in checking Hector’s phone. Texts from Nix to Hex revealed the truth, and Gabriella revealed it to Vix in a handily-arranged extra-curricular jewellery making workshop.
There was a lot of crying, and Nikki begged Vix to forgive her. Vix had the Twinkle-Spark family on her side. Sue was furious: “Is she gay? Is she bi? Is she a total bitch?” Simon was disappointed in Hector – he thought he and Hector had a shared mindset. Barry thought Hector needed sorting out. “You can’t just go in there and punch him on the nose,” argued Gabriella. “Yer I can,” said Barry (though he probably wouldn’t have, because Hector is a PE teacher and has his own boxing gloves and everything). They made do with puncturing the tyre of Hector’s motorbike with a handy nail gun. Continue reading
(Series 9, ep.15) There was all sorts going on in Waterloo Road last night – a castaway, some unrequited yearning, some requited yearning, an exciting message from Edinburgh (about Kevin Chalk’s university application), souvenir T shirts, water-boarding, and the long-awaited Resilience Camp. I bet Connor’s kicking himself that he left Waterloo Road just a couple of weeks too early and missed all the excitement.
But I have to admit that the thing that was distracting me throughout was the wine bag. For one thing, it showed the difference in cunning between girls and boys. The boys’ attempt to smuggle alcohol to Resilience Camp was the laughably blatant “cheap bottle of spirits in the sports bag” route. Easily spotted and confiscated by Hector Reid, and set aside for his own personal use later.
The girls’ effort was much better. They removed the bag from inside a wine box and taped it to Dynasty under her clothing. It would have worked if it hadn’t been for sneaky Gabriella, and the wine bag was confiscated by Christine. Various people offered to look after it for her. “Don’t you trust me with a wine bag?” Christine said defensively, so they backed off and the wine bag remained in shot for almost every scene that Christine was in until the end of the episode. By the time she’d salvaged the remains of the disaster that was Resilience Camp, and been rebuffed by George Windsor who is no longer content to play the role of “the man who’ll do if nothing better comes along,” she couldn’t contemplate going back to an empty Connor-less house without a little liquid refreshment, so she popped the wine bag in her handbag to enjoy while watching The One Show and eating a Lean Cuisine meal for one. This was a shame, because I’d been looking forward to seeing her guzzle it straight from the tap in her office. Continue reading
(Series 9, ep.14) Lenny Brown, perpetually in the shadow of his somewhat thuggish sister Lisa, is a gentle soul. He had to sleep with the lights on for a week after watching Slash Attack 3. Possibly it was because it wasn’t as good as Slash Attacks 1 & 2, who knows?
At the start of the episode he found himself in the local shop with Darren, out for a bit of light shoplifting and a browse of the magazines on the top shelf. They were chased out by the shop’s owner and his son, but not before Lenny noticed something that made him suspicious. Females. In the back room of the shop. “Young girls, faces full of makeup, in tight tops, acting weird, what does that make you think of?” he asked Darren, who had to have a little think because he’s not especially bright. “Rhiannon Salt!” he decided. Lenny had other ideas and pretty soon he’d constructed a whole imaginary sex slave scenario and worked himself up into quite a stew. He asked George Windsor for advice about what to do in a situation where you have a feeling something’s Not Right. George, who was busy trying to impress his mother (more of whom later) said it was important to follow your instincts and to act: “No guts, no glory.” Continue reading
(Series 9, ep.13) Gabriella Wark really is the perfect villain. She’s gorgeous – and the best villains are always pretty – and she’s a mistress of manipulation. First of all she acquired Verruca Salt as a sidekick, because it’s always handy to have a sidekick to do the donkey-work, especially one whose self esteem is so low that you can make an instant disciple of her just by paying her some attention and calling her “Rhi-Rhi.” Then she proceeded to acquire Imogen as well, not so much as a sidekick but more as a means of upsetting Dynasty, whose major crime is that she’s not bedazzled by Gabriella.
Gabriella’s other focus, apart from upsetting Dynasty, was to get her hands on new PE teacher Hector “Teamwork makes the dream work” Reid. When he told her in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t interested in any of that inappropriate pupil/teacher romance stuff (how very un-Waterloo Road-like of him), Gabriella flounced out of the moderately pleasant bar she and Imogen were in, and ended up in the sleazy bar she’d sent Verruca to, where the tattoo/teeth ratio was tilted heavily to the tattoo side. Making no attempt to ingratiate herself with the regulars, Gabriella proceeded to almost get herself bottled. And then, as Mariah Carey told us in song, a Hero comes along. A hero with an evil new haircut and the bad-boy swagger that can only come from being the black sheep of the Barry family. It was only Barry Barry! Continue reading
(Series 9, ep.12) It’s not often that a Controversial New Initiative lasts for more than a week, but obviously the concept of Resilience has… resilience. It’s so resilient there’s even a Resilience Camp in the offing. Dynasty is desperate to go – well, you can’t blame her really. An entire get-away-from-it-all holiday revolving around simulated terrorist attacks and trying to climb over a small wooden wall? Brilliant!
The problem is that the Barrys are a bit strapped for cash now that Barry is no longer around to provide extra income by selling the teachers’ cars on internet auction sites. So Carol put on her best Humble Face (this is the one with less makeup) and went to see Christine, to ask if Dynasty could possibly go to Resilience Camp for free.
Her visit coincided with a crisis in the canteen, and Carol soon found herself donning the tabard of canteenly office and lining up alongside Maggie the Dinner Lady (who is now Maggie the Home Economics Teacher who thinks she’s way too good to dish out macaroni cheese from a serving hatch except in emergencies) and Connor, who’s just thrilled to have any excuse to go near a stove. You know how he loves a good flame. Continue reading
(Series 9, Ep.11) In an ever-changing world, it’s very reassuring when some things stay the same. It’s so comforting to know that, even though it’s now a Scottish school and has an almost entirely new staff group, Waterloo Road still has time for our old friend the Controversial New Initiative.
This one – codename Resilience Education – was introduced via the medium of a simulated terrorist attack during school assembly, complete with fake tear gas and a masked intruder who’d locked everyone into the school hall. Scary! It was lucky that the school has its own have-a-go-hero in the form of ex-army officer Nikki Boston, and it was lucky for the fake terrorist that the baseball bat she whacked him with was also fake.
Was this all some dastardly plot by Pious Kim Campbell to traumatise the students so much that they’d need the resources of the top name in pastoral care to help them get over it? No, it was all dreamed up by Simon Losely and new PE teacher Hector Reid, who’d been on a course called RAW – Resilience At Work, apparently. Continue reading
(Series 9, Ep.10) I’ve absolutely loved this term at Waterloo Road. There were so many barking mad highlights – the magic mushrooms, the Mandarin teacher who spoke Mandarin less well than Kevin Chalk, Grantly Budgen being poetried to death, Kacey’s boxing ambitions, Verruca’s unfortunate selfies, Barry keeping Sue Spark’s pupils in check… it’s been eventful. I even forgot to miss Tom Clarkson most of the time.
Christine Mulgrew has been an excellent head, partly because she’s a rubbish head (if she was really good at it, half the mad incidents would never occur), but mainly because I look at her and I actually believe in her as a head teacher in a way I haven’t believed in a Waterloo Road head teacher since the sainted Jack Rimmer. George Windsor and Nikki Boston have been an excellent support, and I’ve enjoyed the story arc that’s seen Simon go from being a creepy, careerist little worm to being a more humble team player.
And above all else I’ve loved the Barrys: matriarch Carol marching up the slope at the front of the school to shout at people; Dynasty with her kind heart and performing eyelashes; Kacey and her beautifully expressive, vulnerable face; and Barry, the petty criminal whose arrogant swagger is mainly front.
This end-of-term episode saw Kacey about to set forth to America to spend a term at boxing camp, all paid for by the school’s fundraising efforts. But all the money mysteriously vanished and Kacey’s dreams were in tatters. Barry was there with a comforting shoulder to cry on. “You can’t trust this lot here, Kace, they’re full of it,” said Barry, but he’s never going to be a criminal mastermind because he let slip that he knew the money had gone – before Kacey had told him. Continue reading