(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.
Waterloo Road mass protests are hilarious because they generally only involve five speaking cast members and an assortment of extras. The numbers were depleted anyway because Kevin Chalk, usually reliable for starting off an embarrassing chant, is in hospital recovering from his stroke, and Verruca Salt was busy having her first encounter with an oyster in a swanky restaurant.
I felt sorry for the man from the immigration department, who had to contend with having a piece of bread or pie thrown at him by Darren, and with the embarrassment of arresting the wrong person when Shaznay announced she was Lula Tsibi.
Actually I didn’t feel sorry for the immigration man at all, because anyone’s sympathies would be with Lula. Even in the middle of all this mad stuff (and I haven’t even mentioned Sue Twinkle-Spark coming over all UKIP-ish), Marlene Madenge’s work as Lula was wonderful – she conveyed Lula’s fear, sadness, regret and at the end a touching bravery. The little scene where she told Harley she loved him too was incredibly sweet and perfectly done. I hope Marlene Madenge goes on to great things after Waterloo Road. She’s a fantastic actress and I’d love to see her in some really big, dramatic roles.
Christine Mulgrew was absent this week (possibly filming EastEnders), and had officially left George Windsor in charge. His leadership style combined “showy” (getting Sonya to clean his shoes, taking a cab to a charity lunch) and feckless (basically disregarding anything messy or awkward, such as pupils and staff). This meant Simon had to step up to the challenge of trying to sort out a situation where half the staff team seemed to be in danger of getting arrested at any given time. Simon is actually rather good these days, if we disregard his previous hero-worship of Hector. By the end of the episode he’d suspended Maggie for her part in organising the roof top protest (in which Sue Twinkle-Spark was nearly hit by a plummeting can of paint) and letting Shaznay pretend to be Lula. He’d had time to persuade Dynasty not to give up her ambition of joining the police, and he’d agreed to hand-deliver a letter from Nikki to Vix. If he carries on at this rate, he’s at risk of becoming the next Tom Clarkson.
Barry Barry was driving a Mazda this week. “Borrowed it,” apparently. It was a suitably flashy vehicle in which to convey the fragrant Gabriella to a posh lunch. Barry could afford it – he was in line for a big job, he said. We’ve known all along that Gabriella was just stringing Barry along, and she dashed his romantic plans by insisting that Verruca came too. Verruca was reluctant, because it was shepherd’s pie day in the canteen – “with chips!” Healthy cuisine has clearly gone out of the window since Carol Barry took charge of school dinners, but Verruca knows what she likes and she doesn’t like oysters. Or fancy food generally. It was all an expensive disaster for Barry, and to top it all he got dumped by Gabriella.
Just as well he has his big job to fall back on – but sadly it looks like it isn’t anything legal. Being handed bags full of cash and fake passports by shady characters in remote waterside locations isn’t usually the sign of a legit career choice.
While one Barry proudly follows in his father’s criminal footsteps, another one has renewed her ambitions to join The Enemy – the police. Dynasty was resigned to a life of being Kevin Chalk’s chief carer, but a bed bath montage got her thinking that maybe her life ought to be following a different path. A bit of encouragement from Simon Lowsley and all that remained was the most fearsome hurdle of all – telling Carol. This is Carol who offered to sort out the Lula situation because she knew people who could fix those immigration types. “Break their legs. Take ’em out.” If only Christine had left Carol in charge, the day might have gone a whole lot differently.