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Casualty: What’s in the green bag, Adam?

(Series 25, Ep.42) Big Mac wasn’t a happy man when he was asked to add “deep cleaning of trolleys” to his already burdensome list of duties – doing the crossword, some impromptu gambling, joshing with Noel and a little light portering. It didn’t take long before you could see his point, though – resus was literally awash with gore, after a man threw up more blood than a man has a right to do and most of it ended up on the floor. You wouldn’t want to be the person deep cleaning that particular trolley.

The deep cleaning thing was part of yet another initiative designed by Henry to make life for casualty staff so much more difficult. Poor Lush Linda was struggling to cope with the added admin and mutinous staff, but she found an ally in Nick Jordan’s new PA, Emily (catchphrase: “I’m helpin’!”). Emily left at the end of the episode intent on becoming a nurse, and I hope that when she finishes her training – which will probably take three weeks in Holby time – she’ll be back at Holby (either upstairs in Holby City or downstairs in Casualty), because she was lovely.

Meanwhile, the programme information told us that “Adam’s God complex continues.” Continues? When did it start? Have I missed something? Anyway, this God complex was signalled in NICE BIG LETTERS by a recurring motif of Adam’s big, godlike eye peering through a glass at a little fly, over which he had the power of life or death. Subtle, huh? The patient over which he wielded this power was a paedophile, beaten up within an inch of his life by the father of one of his victims (this father was the man who was heaving up blood all over the floor in resus – so often we get two for the price of one with Casualty patients).

The paedophile’s mother was played by the radiantly gorgeous Denise Welch, but frankly that’s all he had going for him (and she didn’t like him either). He told Adam he couldn’t cope with the horrible impulses that made him behave the way he did, and said he wanted a way out. The power was in Adam’s hands – an ethical dilemma indeed.

Lennie wanted to be Adam’s wing man (“I’m your boss, not your friend,” said the ever-chirpy Adam), but he was a little concerned when Adam visited the pharmacy and obtained a small green bag of something or other. Was Adam planning to despatch the sex offender to the hereafter with a hypodermic? Well, no, he wasn’t. His God complex doesn’t go quite that far. Instead he provided the man with something hormonal to (hopefully) curb his urges, and released him back into the wilds of Holby. Let’s just hope we don’t hear of him again.

And, in case we missed the fly metaphor the first time, and the second, the episode closed with Adam’s big eye looking at the fly, and then Adam releasing it into the air. That’s just what Big Mac doesn’t need – a department crawling with flies while he’s trying to deep clean.

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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.

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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?

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Waterloo Road: The school prom – and no-one died

Finally, Waterloo Road school manages to put on an event without anyone being food-poisoned, the school being set on fire or any of the staff being outed as an ex-prostitute or child beater.

For this reason alone, the end of term prom could be deemed a success, even if it involved nothing more than a plate of cold sausage rolls and a rubbish disco. But it was actually a rather lovely thing, all mirror balls and 1920s-themed glamour (thanks to the efforts of Steph Haydock and the props from last year’s school play). Bolton arrived arm-in-arm with Sam Kelly (bless!), and the two were crowned prom king and queen. Steph got back together with Chris Mead’s dad. Pious Kim Campbell hasn’t completely rejected Chris after all.  And Rachel arrived with her brand new husband, chef Adam.

Of course it wouldn’t be Waterloo Road without some high drama and anguish. This was provided by Finn and Amy running away to the seaside to commit suicide together, rather than face the prospect of Finn being relocated to Los Angeles by his parents.

It was  lucky that Finn (whom I’m reliably informed is “peng”) chose the Lancashire coast for this tragic gesture of doomed teen romance. The tide is famously always a v-e-r-y long way out, so it gave Chris Mead time to turn up, spot the star-crossed lovers hand in hand on the beach and leg it across the dunes to catch up. It’s a sad comment on the  fitness levels of today’s teenagers that they were unable to outrun him.

It turns out that all Finn needed was a manly hug from Chris. Having completely career-focused parents who’ve more or less ignored him since he was seven, Finn’s rebelliousness was just the cry for help of a lost boy.  Chris took him back to his useless father, had a few sharp words about parenting, and legged it to the Prom. I couldn’t help thinking that Finn needed a bit more than that, in terms of counselling and whatnot, but a few sessions with Pious Kim will probably sort him out.

The big end-of-series shock is that Rachel Mason (sorry, Fleet) has decided that Waterloo Road can do without her. She’s leaving! And a replacement has already been found – former Silent Witness star Amanda Burton. Shame, really – I was hoping Jack Rimmer might come back…

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Waterloo Road: Children can be so cruel

Another below-par episode of Waterloo Road, with yet again a stand-alone storyline. Young Lauren and The Adorable Josh Stevenson quite fancy each other. However, Lauren has a secret – a large birthmark on her back. This is revealed in front of the whole school during a changing room malfunction at a clothes-swapping event. Everyone laughs and makes nasty comments – even The Adorable Josh, who mainly does it to save face in front of Finn Sharkey, but still.

Normally this would be an excuse for Pious Kim Campbell to swing into action muttering “We should have been on top of embarrassing disfigurements!” However, it was a bit of a low-key episode for Kim, so Lauren was left to deal with her problem by stealing hydrogen peroxide from the science lab in order to bleach the birthmark away. Don’t try this at home, folks. Luckily she was tracked down by Tom Clarkson and Chris Mead before any serious harm could be done, and she turned up at Tom and Josh’s house later to make friends with Josh again. He’s still grounded for his nasty behaviour, though, and Tom Clarkson is wondering whether it’s a good idea for Josh to be living with him.

Where was Rachel Mason while all this was going on? Well, she spent most of the episode locked in a food store room with healthy eating guru Adam Fleet (Finn Sharkey’s work again). It’s hard for any man to resist Rachel, and when locked in a large cupboard with her I imagine it’s almost impossible. Adam had apparently hankered after Rachel for years anyway, ever since he was fat. Indeed, she’s the reason he got thin. She still managed to resist him though.

And Jo Lipsett is taking the Swotty Kids on a school trip to That London. It’s the Swotty Kids, what could go wrong? Two words: Grantley. Budgen.

But that’s for another day.

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Waterloo Road: Now it’s getting silly

Is it just me, or is Waterloo Road in a bit of a slump at the moment? Last night’s episode revolved around Deputy Head Chris Mead deciding one of the girls was Oxbridge material, and needed and deserved special tuition (not in the John Stape sense). This brought him into conflict with Pious Kim Campbell, whose motto is “inclusion.” Of course, what’s really going on is another budding romance. As we’ve seen with her previous relationships with Andrew Treneman and Max Tyler, what Kim likes most in a man is someone she can argue with. Nothing gets her going quite as much as a good ideological debate.

For some reason (and encouraged by Kim) Michaela White decided she’d try out for the Oxbridge tests. She was fine in the mock interview, but went to pieces in the written exam because she couldn’t spell coincidentally. I expected Kim to start railing “We should be on top of spelling!” but she didn’t, instead choosing to give Michaela an inspirational lecture of the “just believe and you will achieve” type.

I wish the scriptwriters would make their mind up about Michaela. One week she’s a bullying bitch, the next she’s playing the flute (not mutually exclusive activities, I realise), the next she’s wanting to be businesswoman of the year. Next week she’ll probably be back to shoving people round in the playground.

There’s a new male cast member in the form of Adam Fleet, the new head chef. He’s played by Steven Waddington (who was in one of my all-time favourite films The Hole), and what’s the betting that he won’t resist Rachel Mason (whom he knows from her pre-prostitute days) for long?

To me, this series of Waterloo Road has lost its way. There are no strong storylines like the Tom/Lorna/Izzy triangle or the Kelly family. There’s far too much Kim Campbell, while nothing much is being done with interesting characters like Josh Stevenson and Jo Lipsett. Next week promises a bit more Josh and a lot more Steph Haydock, which is generally a good thing, so let’s hope the series can pick up pace again.

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Waterloo Road: Making a pig’s ear of a school trip

I watched Waterloo Road last night in the company of my sister, who teaches in a secondary school. Throughout the episode she made small grumbling noises about how this or that would never happen in a real school – for example the trip to the decrepit farm couldn’t have happened without a prior risk assessment and so on. But she still enjoyed watching it. That’s the thing with Waterloo Road. It’s sometimes almost frighteningly realistic, more often it’s like the school on the planet Zog, but either way it’s hideously entertaining.

The trip to the decrepit farm yielded a coachload of drunken teenagers, a stolen pig and a kid with chemical burns to his face. By Waterloo Road standards, a fairly successful trip – at least no-one actually died.

The major story arc-type event was Pious Kim Campbell going for her scan, accompanied by Deputy Head Chris. This is Deputy Head Chris who was recently enjoying a passionate encounter with Rachel Mason, but Pious Kim, as we know, is a woman no man can resist for long. Steph Haydock, who likes to keep her finger on the pulse of local gossip, has already spotted that Chris is starting to look a bit besotted whenever Pious Kim is in the room.

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Waterloo Road: The one with the exploding caravan

Hurrah! Waterloo Road is back again, and it’s as barking mad as ever, being the only programme apart from Brainiac: Science Abuse where you can enjoy the sight of an exploding caravan.

I suppose “enjoy” is a bit of a callous word, considering there was someone inside it at the time, but then he had been only moments previously trying to gas his daughter plus her head teacher, Rachel Mason. He’d even wielded a cake knife in Rachel’s general direction.

“As of next week, we’ve just got to focus on putting pupils’ emotional health right on top of the agenda,” Rachel Mason said afterwards, over a soothing glass of red with deputy (and latest extra-curricular activity) Chris, and Pious Kim Campbell. If they’d only had pupils’ emotional health on top of the agenda this week, Grantley Budgen may not have allowed a father who had a court order against him from removing his daughter from school and whisking her off to a caravan to possibly do her in.

Pious Kim nodded sagely and sipped a glass of water rather than wine, not because she’s pious (which she is) but because she’s pregnant. The father of the baby is last term’s Evil Headmaster Max Tyler, a control freak who could well turn into a cake knife brandishing psycho at the drop of a hat.

Elsewhere, there’s a new pupil in the form of Finn Sharkey (Jack McMullen), an archetypal bad boy who – wouldn’t you know – turns out to be a misunderstood and lonely rich kid. In other words, he’s Brett Aspinall 2010 style.

And Steph Haydock caught the cookery teacher stealing Jo Lipsett’s purse. It’s not just the pupils’ emotional health that needs putting on the agenda at Waterloo Road.

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Waterloo Road: Don’t stand so close to me

This week it was the turn of deputy headteacher Chris Mead to be in bother. He’s a bit attractive, is Chris, and in a school full of girls with rampaging hormones and only Bolton Smiley as peer group eye candy, he was getting more than his fair share of female attention. IT lessons took on a new dimension as girls spent the time creating animations of his pert posterior for the school website. That sort of thing.

It all got a bit out of hand when one of the girls, a promising chemistry student he was giving extra A level help to, turned out to be moonlighting at a lapdancing club. Chris took it upon himself to save her soul, but almost risked his career in the process. It all turned out fine in the end, and Rachel offered to take him out for a drink. Now she’s got over the loss of Bob the Builder, will Rachel’s next romance be with the lovely Chris? He does have fabulous hair, so I’m not ruling it out.

Rachel had other things on her mind, though – chiefly, what secret was Lindsey keeping? At the end, Lindsey finally told Rachel about what had been happening prior to her mum killing her dad. Of course we all guessed in week one that the dad had been abusing Lindsey, but Rachel didn’t. “If only I’d seen the signs!” she wailed to Chris.

There was a little shock for Tom Clarkson this week, when Josh’s mother revealed that a turkey baster had been involved in Josh’s conception. Tom is still the father, only kind of one step removed. I’m not quite sure what difference this makes to the scheme of things, but Tom didn’t seem happy.

“But enough of all that trivia,” I hear you cry. “Did Jo Lipsett and Steph Haydock get it on last week, or what?” A question that Steph herself was quite keen to know the answer to, particularly as the rest of the staff kept making jibes about her manliness. Jo kept her guessing for a while, and then told her that nothing had happened. “Anyway,” she smiled sweetly,  “I don’t fancy older women.”

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Waterloo Road: Max is married! Steph sleeps with Jo! The cookery teacher cracks up!

It was open day at Waterloo Road. Everyone had to be on their best behaviour to show the school off at its best for parents and dignitaries.

You just knew that wasn’t going to work. Last time there was an open day at Waterloo Road everyone got food poisoning. There were food worries this time as well, mainly due to food tech teacher Ruby Fry having a meltdown when she found out her husband was bankrupt, and hurling crudités (“It’s French for chopped vegetables” apparently) around the room before subsiding to the floor in a catatonic state while Michaela White was detailed to clean up around her.

Max Tyler  ordered that particular corridor to be cordoned off in case it scared the parents. Another thing he wanted cordoning off was Mrs Tyler. Yes, it turns out that Max is married to the lady from the local education authority. He assigned Deputy Chris to keep her away from his latest squeeze Pious Kim Campbell, but Deputy Chris (who has rather lovely hair) told Rachel the awful truth. Kim is still unaware that she’s going out with a two-timing rat. Make that a three-timing rat, as he’s apparently also had a “thing” with drippy teacher Helen Hopewell – who is now threatening to blackmail him.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Steph decided she really didn’t want to go on any more French courses. When she needed to get round former head Jack Rimmer (oh, how I miss him), she always found her womanly charms more than up to the task. As the head of the French department, Jo Lipsett, is gay, Steph reasoned that the very same womanly charms would work equally well. Jo immediately sussed what she was up to, and called her bluff in a very funny scene. By the end, the two were being quite good mates and even went out clubbing together. Then we saw Steph wake up the next morning – next to a sleeping Jo. You didn’t need to be a terribly skilled lipreader to work out Steph’s reaction.

“Oh. My. God.”

(More Waterloo Road…)

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