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Waterloo Road: Cesca and Jonah – the secret is out!

(Series 6, Ep.19) The thing with Jonah Kirby is, one minute he looks like quite a plausible boyfriend for a 20-something year old teacher (saving her from scary dogs, being a lovely shoulder to cry on after a hard day, being ever so supportive generally and a bit of a hunk). Then the next minute he’s kicking a football against the wall, or scrapping with his mates, and he’s just a seventeen year-old schoolboy again.

The Jonah/Cesca romance has been interesting in that it’s seemed to be a perfectly mutual, completely genuine thing – no coercion, no power games, just a mature young man and an immature older woman getting together against the odds. Proper Romeo and Juliet stuff. Except that we knew it couldn’t last, and we knew that Cesca was very much in the wrong in letting her heart rule her head and take her into a taboo relationship with someone who was supposed to be in her care. “No-one was hurt!” she protested to Karen after everything unravelled this week. On the contrary, Karen told her, Jonah has been hurt.

He only started to understand the extent of this in this episode, as he realised that taking his girlfriend on cosy camping trips with his dad and his sister is never likely to be an option. That he may never have the glittering career that everyone predicted for Waterloo Road’s star pupil as he has to leave school early and get a McJob to support his imminent offspring. Ronan told him that Cesca looks like a woman who appreciates the finer things in life and wouldn’t find life on the dole with Jonah all that attractive. Though PLA Jr pointed out that Cesca’s mobile phone is rubbish so maybe she’s willing to settle for reduced circumstances after all.

So, considering they’ve been ever so discreet and only ever had sex in cupboards and the art room in broad daylight, how did the secret romance become public knowledge? Well, it was mainly due to that famous lack of discretion, and Chris Mead having a diploma in body language. He can spot the difference between people discussing Spanish homework and a lovers’ tiff even through a fire door. Add this to Jonah’s odd behaviour generally, and Cesca’s shock resignation (she told Karen her father had had a heart attack and she was going back to Spain, when in fact she was bound for Gretna Green and a quickie wedding with Rochdale’s most eligible schoolboy). Chris got the final proof he needed when Cesca fell off a ladder and went to hospital for a check-up, and Chris pulled back the cubicle curtain to find her in a clinch with Jonah, and after that it was a short step to Jonah’s father and the police being called and Karen wearing her very best “I’m so disappointed in you” expression (though she always seems to be smiling at the same time, which undermines it somewhat). Continue reading

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Waterloo Road: But we’ve both been so careful!

(Series 6, Ep.17) Remember what first made Spanish teacher Cesca Montoya notice schoolboy Jonah Kirby in the romantic sense? It was when he rescued her from Kyle Stack’s nasty Rottweiler. “Hola,” you could see her thinking. “He’s all buff and brave and tall and dependable-looking and serene and dazzlingly smiley and that. ¡Ay, caramba!”

What didn’t seem to be uppermost in her mind, or just fleetingly anyway, was that she’s his teacher, he’s her pupil, so basically you just don’t go there (although of course Waterloo Road has already gone there several times, what with Davina and Brett and Chris Mead and Jess). Also she didn’t factor in that, despite appearances, he’s still ever so young.

This week, Cesca started looking a bit peaky in the mornings, and you know what that means. A pregnancy test confirmed that she is, indeed, pregnant with Jonah’s baby. Kids having kids, as Jeremy Kyle would tut. Because he’s ever so young and crazy in love, Jonah thinks this is all brilliant news, and he can’t wait to find himself a job and leave school and start changing nappies, and he really can’t wait to get very drunk indeed and almost tell all his mates everything.

Luckily (or not), the scene of this drunken behaviour (and I must add that Jonah is totally adorable when drunk) was an illicit warehouse party organised by Ronan and Finn, with the express motive of getting Vicky McDonald to snog Ronan. It was successful in that respect, anyway, but went a bit pear-shaped when some dodgy blokes who owned the vodka that had been conveniently left lying around turned up and demanded compensation. Despite them looking like proper hard men, they were no match for Tom Clarkson, who has recovered from his post traumatic agoraphobia and is now perfectly capable of taking on any amount of thugs if they’re threatening Our Josh and his boyfriend.

Meanwhile, the Bex/Hodge/Jess storyline finally resolved (thank the lord). When Jess went off in Hodge’s car to see Bex, Karen and Chris Mead failed to follow them, but then Hodge got nasty and made Jess wear totally the wrong shade of lipstick for her colouring, so Bex texted the address to her mum. When Chris and Karen turned up, Jess was there but Bex and Hodge had gone. They’d only gone as far as a nearby bridge, where they were fairly easy for Karen to spot from a window, given that Hodge was hauling Bex along by her hair. Luckily a bridge is an excellent spot to form a pincer movement with police at both ends of the bridge, and the evil Hodge was finally captured. Hopefully now Bex will be able to get back to school and getting those all-important qualifications.

Several points to notice: (a) Ruth Kirby is back, having mysteriously disappeared for several episodes. Let’s hope she’ll be able to knock some of her famous common sense into her big brother. (b) Finn Sharkey and Sambuca Kelly split up and got back together again, and (c) Finn looks very good in beads. (d) The party was in broad daylight, but what do I know about young people and their ways, or indeed about the problems of night-time filming which may make filming in daytime so much easier.

Next time: Ronan in false eyelashes. A treat, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Posted by PLA              (more Waterloo Road here)

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Waterloo Road: Home is where the heart is

(Series 6, Ep.10) The end of a half term on Waterloo Road, and the school was busy with a fund-raising day. Raffles, dressing up, falafel-eating contests – you know the kind of thing.

Grantly Budgen wasn’t getting into the spirit. Not because he’s Grantly and therefore a miserable old git who wouldn’t give you the steam off his tea, but because he had to face a sad decision. His lovely wife Fleur needed more care than he could provide, and even though he’d promised her he’d never put her in a home, it was the only choice. Luckily for Grantly he had Steph Haydock and Ruby Fry to support him, but he’s a proud man and when he discovered that he couldn’t afford the home’s fees he took the drastic step of trying to burn his house down to get the insurance money. Steph discovered this in time, and he’s looking at a singed duvet rather than a spell in Strangeways for arson.

Meanwhile Ruth Kirby had found out that Grantly had been teaching his A level students the wrong syllabus. Grantly’s career was on the line, until Steph told Karen about Fleur, and Karen managed to sort out Grantly and his finances in about thirty seconds flat. And when legendary footballer John Barnes turned up to let himself be raffled (there was real fear in his eyes when he was won by Steph Haydock) he promised to double the funds the school had raised on the fund-raising day, and Karen suggested giving it to Grantly. Hurrah!

While this was going on, last week’s shady hooded figure was still lurking around, and of course turned out to be Karen’s long-lost daughter Bex. Jess discovered her sister lurking in the kitchen at home. Even though they don’t much look alike, Jess and Bex are really convincing as sisters, and Tina O’Brien and Linzey Cocker really acted their scenes well, showing all the conflicting emotions of the reunion. Bex said she wasn’t staying, and when Karen returned to her office at the end of the day to find Jess looking upset, it seemed as if Bex had done a runner again. “Something’s happened,” Jess said, and glanced past Karen’s shoulder, making Karen turn to find her eldest daughter standing behind her.

So – end of half term report. Overall, much better than series 5, largely thanks to having some strong story arcs throughout the ten episodes. The Fisher family have been a great addition, and I’ve enjoyed the balance between the storylines of the older cast members and the younger ones. It still manages to bring important and relevant storylines up (such as the one about the morning after pill), with characters you really care about and some fantastic acting so that you don’t really mind that you sometimes have to stretch credibility to breaking point.

Posted by PLA              (more Waterloo Road here)

 

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Waterloo Road: I always feel like somebody’s watching me

(Series 6, Ep.9) This week’s Chris Mead Controversial New Initiative could also be termed “clunky plot device of the week.”

Chris decided, singlehandedly apparently, to have CCTV installed in all areas of the school, including classrooms. No-one else except Chris (and Ruth Kirby) thought this was a very good idea, which begs the question: how did Chris get this past the school governors? Surely on grounds of expense alone it wouldn’t be the kind of thing that you would let one teacher do on a whim to “see how it goes”? Never mind the privacy issues.

Ah, the privacy issues. What it was all for, really, was so that certain things which have remained hidden until now were brought out into the open. Jonah Kirby (how gorgeous is Lucien Laviscount, btw? He has a stillness and grace about him which is quite lovely to watch) was less enamoured of the scheme than his sister, and so was dad Marcus, who asked Jonah to compile a presentation about the negative aspects of keeping the school under surveillance. Ronan Burley sneaked a little webcam into the staffroom.

And so it turned out that Jonah finally discovered that girlfriend Jess has had previous carnal knowledge of the aforementioned Deputy Head Chris Mead. Jonah’s normally a lover rather than a fighter, but he instantly went off and gave Chris a bit of a battering. Jess begged him not to reveal what it had all been about, and at first he covered for Chris and risked being excluded from school. Eventually Chris had to come clean and tell his boss Karen that he had, indeed, been on an intimate footing with her daughter before he knew she was a pupil at the school.

Once again I felt the programme parted company with reality (I know, I shouldn’t be surprised) because Karen decided that Chris could keep his job. A big lapse of judgement on her part. Possibly she just has a soft spot for Scousers, for which I couldn’t blame her, but really – surely Chris’s integrity has been dented so many times in this series that he’s beginning to look like a human dartboard?

Meanwhile, the webcam in the staffroom picked up Grantly telling Ruby Fry that Fleur had hit him with a racing book. Fin, Josh, Amy etc all gleefully picked up on this and teased Grantly during a lesson, and were shocked at his reaction – what they didn’t know was that Fleur has Alzheimer’s and Grantly is only barely coping with looking after her. Ruby realised that Grantly needs help, and called on an old friend – the totally fabulous Steph Haydock (hurrah!). Grantly came home to find Steph and Fleur chatting away happily – only poor Fleur thought Steph was her mum, and didn’t know who Grantly was at all.

As if this wasn’t heartbreaking enough, Janeece realised that she couldn’t give up her baby Cheryl to the Frys after all. Ruby and John had both bonded with the baby (they called her Poppy), so it was a sad situation all round, but Ruby knew that Cheryl should be with her real mother.

Next week: Jess receives an unexpected visitor. Will it be the long-lost Bex? Was that who the shady figure on the CCTV was at the end?

Posted by PLA                (more Waterloo Road posts here)

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Waterloo Road: Destroying a W of pie

(Series 6, Ep.7) Front and centre in this episode was Harry Fisher’s bulimia, which up till now has been a secret shared only between him and us. When he told his mum that sister Jess was planning to spend the night with school bad boy Finn Sharkey and Jess was grounded, Finn decided to take bullying of Harry to new levels (as a side note, what was Harry doing in the same classes as Finn and Josh? Aren’t they older than him?). This culminated in Harry experimentally trying to drown himself during a swimming lesson, but not before he’d snarfed a considerable quantity of quiche which Ruby Fry had lovingly fashioned into the initials “WR” to celebrate the inter-schools debating competition.

Of course, it all had to come out (which I realise could be construed as a tasteless pun, given the subject matter), and Karen went into guilt-and-blame overdrive. She mainly blamed husband Charlie for running off with Maggie from Casualty (who was at Waterloo Road for the inter-schools debating comp, so was very much in the faces of the Fisher family this week). Jess and Harry mainly blamed Karen, for her obsessive hero-worship of missing daughter Bex. They do have a point.

While Karen’s anguish  occupies large swathes of screen time, you badly need some comic relief, and this was provided by (the very wonderful) Ronan Burley. Now he’s got rid of nasty dad Martin Kemp he can get back to ducking and diving, wheeling and dealing like a Rochdale Del Boy. He set up a betting scam on the inter-schools debating comp which could only fail if he himself won. The topic to be debated was school uniforms, and Ronan took the “actions speak louder than words” approach by doing a striptease (or rather “a badly debated point through the medium of interpretative dance,” as he styled it) rather than actually debate. And very flexible he is, too. On whose planet did he think that this wouldn’t be a crowd pleaser? Presumably he was hoping to be disqualified, but as young Ruth Kirby bottled it, it was either let Ronan win or let the trophy go to a rival school.

The reason Ruth bottled it was because her father puts too much pressure on her to be a genius. She finally got the courage to tell him to stuff his Mensa membership. “Laters!” she told him. “That’s not a word!” he yelled – nice to see that some teachers have standards. “It’s my word,” replied Ruth.

And Janeece gave birth to her baby. It was a girl. Prior to the birth she’d decided if it was a girl she’d call her Cheryl, and if it was a boy she’d call it Cole. You can see a theme there. Turned out it was a girl, and Ruby Fry wants to call her Poppy. Poor Janeece – only moments after giving birth she was already apparently out of the charmed circle that was the new Fry family unit.

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