The Security Men was an hour-long, one-off comedy drama written by Caroline Aherne and Jeff Pope, and it was Aherne’s name on the writing credits and Ben Ryan Davies from Waterloo Road in the cast list that made me watch it.
The plot revolved around a robbery that had taken place while the security men were occupied watching a boxing match on telly. To save their jobs, they had to re-stage the robbery for the benefit of CCTV and add themselves doing their best to apprehend the villains, with the help of the aforementioned geeky nephew (Ben Ryan Davies) who had to hack into the security systems. This was an excuse for some slapstick comedy and some comedy riding around on mobility vehicles.
It wasn’t big on belly laughs. There were a couple of risque (somewhat sexist) jokes, mainly about the wife of the character played by Bobby Ball (yes, of Cannon & Ball fame), who was never seen but could be assumed to be “a bit of a goer.” Excuse the 70s terminology, but in a lot of ways this was a very old-school piece of work. It could have been a pilot for a character-driven sitcom of the dinnerladies type, although the characterisation was nowhere near as acute as it could have been. This was disappointing coming from the writer of The Royle Family, and given some of the acting talent present. The characters were very broad-brush (the over-zealous boss, the work-shy team, the geeky somebody’s-nephew computer expert etc) and some of the jokes were crude and over-used. On hearing that one of the characters had had to sack his mother’s carer, one of the others (Brendan O’Carroll) asked anyone he came across if he would “wash his mammy – if she was lightly soiled.” It wasn’t very funny in the first place, but it was repeated at least fifteen times. This was presumably supposed to heighten the hilarity, but it was just distasteful. The only woman in the whole thing was a briefly-glimpsed cleaner, who was so lazy she hadn’t changed the water in her mop bucket since February. Most of the references to women were disparaging and unfunny unless you were a character in a 70s sitcom yourself.
Not Caroline Aherne’s finest TV hour.
Posted by PLA
Filed under Comedy, Drama
(Series 15, ep.4) Not wanting to run into board member Cunningham, Hanssen pressed the B button on the lift and found himself in the basement. The basement is generally the place Holby cast members go to collapse, be attacked or have a sulky smoke. Nothing good generally happens there, but on this occasion, Hanssen found himself chatting to a Polish porter, Karol, whose job was under threat. This porter was a wise old sort, although he was blissfully unaware that he was talking to Henrik Hanssen, somewhat implausibly, given that Hanssen’s face had been all over local newspapers and TV news for weeks. It reminded me of the encounter between Kevin and the owner of the toy store in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (I’m sorry, but that film is my cultural touchstone). Karol was a people-person and liked to make a difference to the people he worked with. He had the following advice: “If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way.” Continue reading
(Series 7, Ep.19) The secret love of Michael Byrne and Sian Diamond is a secret no more. Jez’s suspicions were confirmed by his supposed-to-be-clever wife forgetting to erase the recent locations on the car’s sat nav. When it showed that Sian had been overnighting at the Regency Hotel rather than comforting a fed-up mate, and when a Regency Hotel pen turned up on Michael Byrne’s desk, Jez put two and two together and showed it’s not only maths teachers who can do sums. Then he punched Michael, and PLA Jr and I cheered. Well, he’s had it coming, and he has such a punchable face. The Regency Hotel had another visitor, in the shape of Linda Radleigh, who has taken to skulking in the corridors and sending little notes to Michael. What a deeply weird woman she is. But maybe not as weird as Sian, who is Jaye Jacobs and therefore stunningly beautiful. What on earth does she see in Michael Byrne? Not much of a catch, is he?
One man who is a catch is the utterly magnificent and wonderful Ronan Burley. He’s leaving soon, and I’ll miss him a lot. This week he had a poor misunderstood girl throwing herself at him. It wasn’t Vicki, it was another one. This was pupil-with-issues-of-the-week Andi O’Donnell. She was the daughter of a local radio presenter whose USP was talking in a cheesy voice (ok, that’s not particularly U for a radio presenter) and being very confessional about her personal life and her family. This included telling all of her listeners that her 15-year-old daughter was a virgin and had never even been on a date. Andi’s classmates had never twigged that Andi was this woman’s daughter. Probably because they’d never seen her before this week (we’d have noticed her because of her lurid hair extensions). But when Mommy Dearest was invited to broadcast from the school as part of this week’s Controversial New Initiative, Andie was humiliated in front of the whole school.
(Series 7, Ep.18) As this blog’s good friend @kopitron pointed out on Twitter last night, there really should be a race track installed around the perimeter of Waterloo Road, the number of vehicles that get nicked and driven off at high speed there.
This week it was the two-wheeled scooter thing belonging to Phoenix, and it was “borrowed” by new boy Freddie Jackson. Freddie’s issue (you’re not allowed to attend Waterloo Road unless you have an issue, unless you’re a non-speaking extra) was that he’d had a heart transplant. It was a classic case of a boy who’s been wrapped in medical cotton wool for years wanting to be “normal,” so he didn’t bother telling PE teacher Jez Diamond about the heart transplant till he keeled over while playing football.
It’s often the case that a vehicle gets stolen when there’s a visiting dignitary, and they don’t come much more dignitary than the very regal Jane Asher (formerly Paul McCartney’s girlfriend and Joseph Byrne’s mum in Holby, but at different times in her career). She represented a Big Company which had the power to grant a lot of money to Waterloo Road, or not. You kind of knew the verdict would be “not,” what with boys collapsing on the football field and stealing scooters, the head teacher turning into a gibbering idiot during a presentation because he’s being blackmailed by one of the pupils, two girls (Scout and Emily) bobbing off for the afternoon to steal vodka and get tattoos and Finn and Trudi using the school debate to work out their personal differences. It was mesmerising stuff and could only have been improved by Ronan Burley taking to the stage to reprise his stripping routine.
Linda Radleigh turns out to be a bunny boiler of the highest order as well. Having spied Sian and Michael’s secret liaison at the end of last week’s episode, she’s getting her revenge by dropping not-so-subtle hints about them to anyone who’ll listen (mainly to Jez, and she mustn’t be too subtle with Jez – he doesn’t strike me as that bright), keying Michael’s car and leaving him a rather pretty wreath in a box on his desk. No wonder he’s all jittery. Sian told Jane Asher that Michael “Goes the extra mile for these kids” – but will the extra mile be round the bend?
Posted by PLA (more Waterloo Road here)
(Series 7, Ep.16) Finn Sharkey has managed to put his heartbreak over losing Sam to one side. After a short wobble when grief made him steal cars and drive them round the playground, he’s back on the dating scene with a spring in his step. Sadly his choice of new girlfriend is Trudi Siddiqui. While it’s true she’s beautiful and smart, she has one big drawback. Her brother is a nutter. He’s also the only prefect in the school, but that’s Michael Byrne’s idea of giving the lad responsibility. Does this make Tariq Siddiqui the head boy by default?
For a while, a nice little bromance was brewing between Tariq and Finn, but this only held for as long as Tariq remained blissfully ignorant about Finn’s designs on his sister. They even went out together to do a spot of revenge beating up of some lads who’d stolen Madi Diamond’s phone. En route to the beating up (Tariq knows jiu jitsu, you know. Like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, only Keanu didn’t learn it in a Young Offenders Institute) Tariq admitted that Her Majesty’s Pleasure hadn’t been all that pleasurable. Finn already knew this, as Trudi had told him Tariq spent most of his sentence crying down the phone to his mum. Continue reading
(Series 7, Ep.14) I’m having trouble with this series of Waterloo Road. Basically, I’m wondering how much longer I should give the new characters to bed in. Is it just a matter of time before Michael Byrne, the Diamonds and the terrible Sarah Hadland character start seeming like proper Waterloo Road teachers?
I love Jaye Jacobs, I adored and revered her as The Radiant Donna in Holby City, but something about her character isn’t working in this. I don’t think it’s the actress’s fault. As Donna, she was given a part that was funny, vulnerable and sweet. She could be selfish, stroppy and lazy, but we always cared about her. I just don’t care about Sian Diamond, even though I do rather love the dresses she wears. Jez is neither here nor there – not a serious character, not a comic character (so he’s had Botox? Big deal). And Michael Byrne is a cardboard cutout of a headmaster, not fit to fill the shoes of Jack Rimmer, Rachel Mason and Karen Fisher.
Did I hate the last episode, then? Well, no, because a lot of it featured the glorious Ronan Burley, my favourite Waterloo Road character. Maybe I’m just against Sian for daring to suggest that Our Ronan could ever hit Vicki. It’s almost as absurd as thinking he could captain a rugby team.
But I’m hankering after the mad old days of Ruby Fry having a meltdown in the cookery room, and Grantly and Fleur, and Steph Haydock, and Pious Kim Campbell and Chris Mead coming up with Controversial New Initiatives. Poor old Daniel Chalk and his winning ways with an electric guitar just aren’t providing a sufficient level of that particular kind of warm barminess that WR specialises in.
Or is it just me?
Posted by PLA (more Waterloo Road here)
(Series 7, Ep.12) We’ve come to expect Waterloo Road to take quite a few liberties with reality. “That would never happen in a real school” is a frequent refrain. We love it anyway, because the liberties usually fit the story, and the stories are generally gripping and the acting’s almost always fantastic, so we can forgive the odd lapse in realism.
But last night’s episode was just silly. Let’s start with Michael Byrne’s A level recruitment drive. Are we really expected to believe that a school would let its pupils make choices about their A levels based on a five minute presentation about how “All computer games start with maths” or “All science is just like CSI”? No matter what your aptitude or your GCSE subjects or results?
Then there was that dreadful “inspirational” speech by Michael Byrne himself, in which his description of how reading a book changed the entire direction of his life (he didn’t tell us which book it was. Maybe it was Catcher in the Rye, maybe it was Teaching for Dummies, who knows?) Any real teenager of my acquaintance would have just sniggered, if they weren’t too busy texting.
It didn’t take Matt Wilding long to come up with a scheme to bring people together in musical harmony which would result in sulks, strops and theft. Continue reading
(Series 7, Ep.11) The start of a new school year, and the start of yet another chapter in the eventful life of Waterloo Road. Welcome to the Michael Byrne Era.
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. Continue reading
(Series 7, Ep.10) Whenever I think of Chris Mead, I shall picture him bounding like a young gazelle across Formby sands in pursuit of Finn and Amy. It was a magnificent feat of athleticism, and one which he reprised in the final episode of this term, as he jogged gamely along the platform at Manchester Piccadilly Station to save Scout and Our Little Liam from evil drug dealer types. Not a hair out of place. Breathtaking. Scout, however, was less impressed. She didn’t want to go into “curr.” She curred so much about not going into curr that she made Denzil swurr not to tell anyone that she was planning to take Liam, a fistful of drugs money and a packed lunch to That London on a train. But Denzil is a curring type of lad and he’s seen the documentaries, so he told Chris what was going on.
Chris’s hasty departure from the school premises in pursuit was badly timed for Karen, who was busy trying to impress school inspector Alison (Tracy-Ann Obermann). Throw in Finn, Josh, Amy and Lauren taking a turn around the school car park in Tom Clarkson’s car, via the cycling proficiency class helmed by nervous cyclist Daniel Chalk, and you have all the makings of what most school inspectors would term “failure.” “Your deputy head just seriously undermined your authority, minutes after four of your pupils were caught joyriding,” summed up Inspector Alison. Put that way, it didn’t sound good. Continue reading
(Series 7, Ep.9) Last night’s Waterloo Road reminded me of an episode (any episode) of Brothers & Sisters, where everyone starts off promising they “won’t tell Mom,” and five minutes later somebody tells Mom and all hell breaks loose.
Chris Mead didn’t promise he wouldn’t tell his mom anything, but he did promise Karen that he’d be on his best behaviour, and in particular he’d steer clear of any contact with Scout that wasn’t classroom-related. “From now on, it’s strictly professional,” he told his boss. But that was before Scout’s feckless mother (Lisa Riley) decided to have a bit of “me time” by leaving Scout and her three year old brother to fend for themselves while she went on holiday with her latest bloke. Scout couldn’t risk not going to school, so she left little Liam parked in front of In The Night Garden while she went off to do some gardening herself, courtesy of a community initiative overseen by Kelly Crabtree from Corrie (Tupele Dorgu, whom I would love to see joining Waterloo Road on a permanent basis).
Scout wasn’t the only reluctant gardener with thoughts elsewhere. Eleanor Chaudery, who’d been co-opted because a female staff member was needed, was completely out of her comfort zone in wellies. She was a troubled soul, too – it seems that enjoying the pleasures of Tom Clarkson had made her rethink the way she’d been telling tales about Karen to the Slimeball from the local authority. Continue reading