(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.
I don’t think Barry wanted to hurt Kacey. He’s got this EastEnders-style notion of family sticking together (possibly because deep down he’s a scared little boy and he can’t cope without them), so he thought by stealing the money Kacey wouldn’t leave, and they’d also have some handy spends.
He reckoned without Nikki Boston, who stumped up the cash herself because she believes in Kacey. At a ceremony to say goodbye to Waterloo Road’s best Olympic hope, Kacey confronted Barry and the whole story came out. This led to a showdown at the front of the school, with Carol publicly disowning Barry and sending him on his way. Exit one Barry, crying and begging his family not to throw him out. Then Kacey had to leave to get her plane to America, her huge eyes filled with tears. “Goodbye, Waterloo Road,” she said to the school’s Toblerone-shaped frontage and the assorted extras on the steps.
Two Barrys gone in the space of five minutes – it was emotional. And I’m not sure how I can cope with Waterloo Road without them, though Kacey is only going to be missing temporarily, and reading between the lines of what Carl Au was tweeting last night, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Barry either. Hurrah!
Meanwhile, there was the little matter of who was going to get the permanent head teacher job. It looked like it was in the bag for Simon, as his future father-in-law, education chief Bain, had bought him and Sue Spark a house, obviously confident that Simon would be able to afford the mortgage payments with his head teacher salary – particularly as Bain was on the interview panel.
Simon has generally deserved George’s name for him, Simon Lousy, though being so immersed in your private life that you don’t pay much attention to anything else and having very poor judgement are actually pretty mandatory qualities for a Waterloo Road teacher. He continued to exhibit a shocking lack of professionalism this week when he was supposed to be looking after a boy called Stevie who was being bullied (nobody was better at tackling bullying than Simon, Christine told the boy’s mother, worryingly). Poor Stevie made so many attempts to talk to Simon and got ignored every time, so I was rather pleased when he accidentally punched Simon during a fight with Lenny. I have to point out that Lenny wasn’t bullying him. It’s Lenny’s sister who’s the bully. Lenny is a sweetheart and is probably my favourite new character this term.
Christine’s method of helping Stevie was to get Connor to tell him what a rubbish mother she’d been at times. I’m not sure how this was designed to help, but it did, and it also made Simon realise that he wasn’t half the teacher that Christine was. “Teaching is a gift and you’ve got it,” he told her.
He then went for his interview and told the panel he wasn’t ready to be a head teacher. To be a great teacher, according to Bain, you need the three P’s, which are Performance, Principles and Passion. Simon said that Christine had the three P’s and she also had I and H – Instinct and Heart.
So Christine Mulgrew, PPPIH, was confirmed as Waterloo Road’s head teacher.
She hardly had time to give Connor and Imogen a celebratory hug before it was on with the fascinator for the wedding of Simon and Sue (or the Twinkle-Sparks, as I think they should be known). Having stood up to Bain once in the interview room, Simon and Sue had another shock for him. They’d decided to elope and get married in private. This left everyone to enjoy the reception. Christine was ever so tempted to get bladdered, and it looked like a quickie with George Windsor was also on offer if she played her cards right. Wisely she decided to ditch the champagne and George and go back home to help Connor look at recipes.
We left Simon and Sue tootling through the glorious Scottish countryside in the Twinklemobile and then that dreaded voice-over announcement, “Waterloo Road will return in the new year.” Thursdays will be dull and empty till it’s back.