He’s a new broom sweeping clean, is Mr Byrne. He doesn’t like sloppy behaviour – shirt buttons must be fastened all the way to the top and ties pulled up (yes, you, Ronan Burley). Teachers will no longer be allowed to languish behind their desks reading The Racing Post (yes, you, Grantly Budgen) – because Mr Byrne has personally removed all the classroom doors, so slackers can be spotted. I say “personally,” because caretaker Robson Green is no longer around, so it’s not quite clear who does the manual labouring any more.
Every head teacher needs a deputy, but Mr Byrne needs two. One of them is the long-suffering (literally, as he’s had at least one bereavement per series since he started) Tom Clarkson. The other is The Radiant Donna off of Holby City, only here she’s called Sian Diamond. She’s still radiant, though, and she and Mr Byrne have A Shared Past. In the present, she’s married to PE teacher Jez Diamond, who’s only slightly jealous that the headmaster still has a bit of a thing for his wife. And drama teacher Matt Wilding is back, for those Glee-style moments that we love so much.
Of the pupils, the magnificent Ronan Burley is still there (hurrah and thrice more hurrah), and he’s still engaged to Vicki. Surprisingly, given that it’s the end of the summer holidays, Vicki is sporting a more natural-looking complexion and less of the mahogany veneer that was getting a little scary a while back. The Lovely Josh is apparently on a mission to curtail his curls, because his hair is shorter than ever and quite flat. I miss his lovely curls. Finn is sporting stubble and is trying to move on from the loss of Sam by chatting up new girl Trudi.
Trudi’s brother is this term’s bad boy, Tariq. Arriving at school on The Bus Of The Previously Excluded, Tariq quickly got down to scowling menacingly and taking Ronan Burley’s car for an illegal spin in the school grounds. A car being taken for an illegal spin around the school grounds is such a regular occurrence at Waterloo Road that they really ought to have a rally track installed. If only they had a caretaker. They do have prefects, though (who knew?), and Tariq is now one. Mr Byrne feels his leadership skills need to be harnessed for good rather than evil, but we’ll wait and see how that works out.
The main storyline revolved around two boys with very big hair, Phoenix and Harley. They were living with their gran, but when she died they decided not to tell anyone, because they didn’t want to live with their abusive drunk of a dad (loveable John Thomson, playing against type). This was a very sad story, but I couldn’t take it seriously because it kept reminding me of the sketch in the CBBC show Stupid, where a granny keeps pretending to be dead to fool her grandson (low quality YouTube here). The boys were friendly with Scout, who is still at Waterloo Road and still currs about people. She curred enough to tell Tom Clarkson, who told Mr Byrne, who went round to advise Phoenix that burying your gran in the garden is both illegal and can ruin your herbaceous border (see, I still can’t take it seriously. I kept expecting granny to sit up and say, “Your face!”).
Posted by PLA (more Waterloo Road here)