(Series 9, ep.13) Gabriella Wark really is the perfect villain. She’s gorgeous – and the best villains are always pretty – and she’s a mistress of manipulation. First of all she acquired Verruca Salt as a sidekick, because it’s always handy to have a sidekick to do the donkey-work, especially one whose self esteem is so low that you can make an instant disciple of her just by paying her some attention and calling her “Rhi-Rhi.” Then she proceeded to acquire Imogen as well, not so much as a sidekick but more as a means of upsetting Dynasty, whose major crime is that she’s not bedazzled by Gabriella.
Gabriella’s other focus, apart from upsetting Dynasty, was to get her hands on new PE teacher Hector “Teamwork makes the dream work” Reid. When he told her in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t interested in any of that inappropriate pupil/teacher romance stuff (how very un-Waterloo Road-like of him), Gabriella flounced out of the moderately pleasant bar she and Imogen were in, and ended up in the sleazy bar she’d sent Verruca to, where the tattoo/teeth ratio was tilted heavily to the tattoo side. Making no attempt to ingratiate herself with the regulars, Gabriella proceeded to almost get herself bottled. And then, as Mariah Carey told us in song, a Hero comes along. A hero with an evil new haircut and the bad-boy swagger that can only come from being the black sheep of the Barry family. It was only Barry Barry! Continue reading
(Series 9, Ep.2) I was very disappointed to learn that the theatre trip to see A Streetcar Named Desire has been cancelled. There’s no better excuse for mayhem than taking the Waterloo Road pupils en masse out of school to a public event.
I wasn’t as disappointed as the sixth form were, though, and they were probably feeling the pain more acutely because they were hungry, what with breakfast club having been cancelled too.
Without the Lorraine Donnegan fortune behind it, Waterloo Road is now having to make cutbacks. So breakfast club (proven to improve results and make for happier, healthier, more settled pupils) has been binned off in favour of a Mandarin assistant (proven to be essential to Kevin Chalk, the only pupil who seems to speak Mandarin). Good decision-making, Christine Mulgrew. Or “Hatchet” Mulgrew, as she suggested we might call her.
If only cutbacks and a revolting sixth form (they had a wee sit-in in the school-house) were Christine’s only problem. She also finds herself with the most useless teacher since the last useless teacher, in the form of Sue Spark. Despite (or because of) being the daughter of the Director of Education and the fiancée of deputy head Useless Simon, Sue is absolutely rubbish at her job and found herself at one point locked in a cupboard during a fire alarm. There wasn’t an actual fire – it was a lot of smoke in a beaker caused by Verruca Salt and some jelly babies – but it was enough to give Imogen a panic attack. This led to Christine suggesting Connor might have started the fire (“It’s not like he hasn’t got form”), which made him – quite understandably – go all sulky. Sulky is Connor’s default setting, but prior to that he’d been defending his mum against all the grievances against her by moaning, “She’s in a difficult position!” every five minutes. Continue reading
(Series 8, Ep.26) Having been without a functioning TV aerial and with internet powered by three candles and an empty baked beans can, I’ve been unable to watch Waterloo Road for a couple of weeks. This week I acquired an extra candle and managed to watch it on iPlayer and I’m very pleased I did. Talk about drama!
Any episode of anything that starts of with Gang of Four as a soundtrack (‘Anthrax,’ no less) is going to make me happy, and in this case it was the soundtrack to the dastardly “Hawaii” Steve-O outlining his plans to turn Connor’s hand to burglary and other money-making crimes. If Connor hadn’t already been the palest colour it’s possible for a live human to be, he’d have gone pale.
The extent of Steve-O’s nastiness only became clear (to me, as presumably this was seen in a previous episode) when Dynasty admitted to Kevin that he’d raped her. At this point I have to say the acting from Abby Mavers throughout this episode was brilliant, and she also has the most beautiful accent. Anyway, her admission turned Kevin into a quivering bundle of rage and he concocted a plan to kill Steve-O, with the help of Connor. This sounded about as good a plan as the one to get Connor to rob houses. Continue reading
(Series 8, Ep.22) Lorraine Donnegan’s accountant has told her she needs to slash the Waterloo Road budget by 30%. That’s a lot of slashing, so she decided she’d start by moving into Michael Byrne’s office. Has it suddenly become much larger? I’d swear it used to be a bit more snug, but maybe he used to have a false wall in there to make it smaller so Sian Diamond would have to wriggle past him for staff meetings. Now he’s on a pipe-and-slippers domestic footing with Jane Beale, he has no need of such stratagems and the extra space has come in handy for Cockney Lorraine and her ergonomic desk chair.
Further savings were to be found by making Michael do an honest day’s teaching instead of slumping over his desk all day waiting for disasters to happen. To make sure he could still hack it on the shop floor, Nikki Boston was dispatched to watch. If Nikki observed all the teachers, Lorraine (dress code: leather and black lace) reasoned, she’d be able to spot teachers who were not adding value, who could then be Drastically Cut.
The prime candidate for that sort of thing would in normal times have been Grantly Budgen, a man with such a gift for teaching he makes Steph Haydock look like Dead Poets Society. But these are not normal times for Grantly, what with having rapidly deteriorating kidneys and that. It’s put a dreadful burden on Maggie the Dinnerlady, who was faced this week with the added pressure that Lorraine wanted to slash the canteen budget as well and made Maggie compete with local takeaway owner The Prince of Spices for the honour of serving the school meals. Continue reading
(Series 8, Ep. 20) What did I love about this episode? Against expectations, I loved the wedding – particularly the part when Connor busted out his sign language moves. I’d completely forgotten that Imogen is deaf (or partly deaf), so it was unexpected but completely appropriate, touching and beautiful. It even made Emo Imogen genuinely smile.
I also loved the acting of Katie McGlynn as Jodie/Scout. Her useless mother died, and Jodie’s reaction was to go straight to school to sit her exam, so she could get a place at university and become a teacher and try to inspire and support kids the way the Waterloo Road staff have inspired and supported her over the years. I know – snarf at that last bit, since she spent most of this term being bullied by Nikki Boston. But we’ll forget all that for the sake of a happy ending for Scout, as we see her leave Waterloo Road for the bright lights of university. Or Coronation Street. Continue reading
(Series 8, Ep. 18) Thanks to the goal-scoring skills of star player Kacey Barry, Waterloo Road were in the final of the Unspecified Cup. Hurrah! But the problem was, FA rules (or some official rules somewhere) stated that girls couldn’t play in boys’ teams once they were over 15, in case they broke a nail or terrorised the boys with a mascara wand.
These things were not likely to be a problem with Kacey Barry – a less girly-girl you couldn’t wish to meet. But it went further than that – Kacey actually feels that she is a boy, with an unfortunately female body. So she was gutted to hear she wouldn’t be playing in the cup final. Tom Clarkson was gutted, as well. He knew the team had no chance of winning without Kaycey. His team just didn’t have what Alan Hansen would call “strength in depth.” Being a man (or woman) down, they even had to resort to Connor – who’d never played anything more physical than mah jong in his life – going in goal. Continue reading
(Series 8, Ep. 17) By the end of the episode we’d established that three people weren’t pregnant. Emo Imogen wasn’t (can you imagine Connor’s sperm having the energy? He looks like he can barely blink without having a lie down afterwards). Jane Beale wasn’t, because Michael Byrne had “been careful” (don’t make me imagine that – I’d have to have my brain wiped), and Jade wasn’t because she’d just given birth five minutes before the episode ended.
She gave her baby to a woman who hardly ever blinked (welcome to Connor’s world), who would give her a better start in life. The alternative for the poor child was too ghastly to contemplate. It would have been grandmother-smothered by dreadful dinner lady Maggie, who was being ridiculously manipulative and emotionally blackmailing in trying to get Jade to keep the baby. And it would have had a fine succession of “aunties and uncles” of the likes of Scout, Harley and Rhiannon – who at least were more realistic than Maggie about the downsides to having a baby on the premises. Continue reading