(Series 9, Ep.8) With this episode, Waterloo Road gave up any pretence of being a “contemporary drama series set in a challenging comprehensive school” as the BBC website describes it, and went for full-on, hallucinogenic craziness. It was absolutely brilliant.
The teacher with the pointy face, Audrey McFall, had hatched a scheme to get everyone interested in history and put Waterloo Road on the educational map by having everyone spend a week pretending it was the Second World War. This involved a lot of dressing up (Simon, George, Audrey and Christine all dapper in military uniform; Nikki Boston in a boiler suit; and everyone else in a range of vaguely 40s costumes). Audrey apparently had a bottomless dressing up box – anyone not in period costume was told to see Audrey “and she’ll sort you out.”
Digging for victory was also on the agenda, with the students pretending to grow their own food. Audrey “planted” carrots she got from the supermarket to make the garden look good for visiting education supremo McBain. And she also borrowed a goat. The goat’s name was Wally – officially named after Wallis Simpson, it was actually so someone could say “Where’s Wally?” when the goat inevitably disappeared.
Wartime also meant rations, which meant in this case that the school canteen was serving up even worse food than usual. Verruca Salt was the only one who didn’t mind, as she was using it as an excuse to shift some weight before the gym display later that day. Has no-one told her that weight loss doesn’t quite work out that way?
Barry Barry spied a money-making opportunity and started selling crisps at £2 a bag. But it was when rations were reduced still further and the students were sent out foraging for their food that Barry had his really big idea – magic mushrooms.
Despite being told not to eat anything they found till it had been officially approved by a member of staff, Barry and his dim sidekick Darren (I love it that Barry has a sidekick – they’re like Dick Dastardly and Muttley) consumed the first fungus they came across. Do not try this at home, kids, unless you have Ray Mears or Bear Grylls with you.
Barry and Darren wandering in an altered state of consciousness through a forest which was already a very trippy shade of green was hilarious. “Why are them trees following us?” Barry wondered. They managed to find the rest of their group and got back to Waterloo Road (they are so lucky to have a school that’s a short step from both the seashore and a magical forest). Barry didn’t like the look of Wally the goat. “It might be a spy,” he said, plausibly. So he untied it and shooed it away, so it could use its uncanny navigational abilities to find its way to Christine’s office.
Barry and Darren ended up throwing up and being taken to hospital by Nikki Boston. They weren’t the only casualties of Audrey’s austerity measures. Verruca Salt hadn’t eaten anything all day, so when it came to the gym display, her blood sugar was on the floor and she swiftly joined it there.
Christine decided it was time to put an end to rationing, and ordered Maggie and Connor (who seems to have given up on lessons to become a full-time dinner laddy) to make some real food to nourish the troops. What did they make? Mushroom omelette. Made with the mushrooms Barry and Darren had found. Sadly for us, Christine was on hand to swoop and grab everyone’s plates before a morsel could pass a hungry lip.
Did all this impress the Education Chief Mr Bain? Not really, but what impressed him less was Christine and Simon bickering over who was to blame for it. It’s ratcheted up the Mulgrew/Losely rivalry to a whole new level.
In other news, Dynasty and Kevin got back together after he staged a romantic gesture of a picnic in the hallucinogenic woods. “Why did we ever break up?” he murmured romantically. “Because you finished wit’ me,” replied Dynasty. Anyway, he’s decided not to go to America to study, so he and Dynasty can stay together.
Connor has decided that his future is in catering, and even McBain was impressed by his seaweed bhaji.
And Kacey spent the episode trying – and failing – to persuade Nikki Boston to ring her daughter.
Next time: Linden Cullen off of Holby! And Nicola Adams off of the Olympics!