(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.12) It’s not often that a Controversial New Initiative lasts for more than a week, but obviously the concept of Resilience has… resilience. It’s so resilient there’s even a Resilience Camp in the offing. Dynasty is desperate to go – well, you can’t blame her really. An entire get-away-from-it-all holiday revolving around simulated terrorist attacks and trying to climb over a small wooden wall? Brilliant!
The problem is that the Barrys are a bit strapped for cash now that Barry is no longer around to provide extra income by selling the teachers’ cars on internet auction sites. So Carol put on her best Humble Face (this is the one with less makeup) and went to see Christine, to ask if Dynasty could possibly go to Resilience Camp for free.
Her visit coincided with a crisis in the canteen, and Carol soon found herself donning the tabard of canteenly office and lining up alongside Maggie the Dinner Lady (who is now Maggie the Home Economics Teacher who thinks she’s way too good to dish out macaroni cheese from a serving hatch except in emergencies) and Connor, who’s just thrilled to have any excuse to go near a stove. You know how he loves a good flame. Continue reading
(Series 9, Ep.11) In an ever-changing world, it’s very reassuring when some things stay the same. It’s so comforting to know that, even though it’s now a Scottish school and has an almost entirely new staff group, Waterloo Road still has time for our old friend the Controversial New Initiative.
This one – codename Resilience Education – was introduced via the medium of a simulated terrorist attack during school assembly, complete with fake tear gas and a masked intruder who’d locked everyone into the school hall. Scary! It was lucky that the school has its own have-a-go-hero in the form of ex-army officer Nikki Boston, and it was lucky for the fake terrorist that the baseball bat she whacked him with was also fake.
Was this all some dastardly plot by Pious Kim Campbell to traumatise the students so much that they’d need the resources of the top name in pastoral care to help them get over it? No, it was all dreamed up by Simon Losely and new PE teacher Hector Reid, who’d been on a course called RAW – Resilience At Work, apparently. 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