Back to School

Yes, it is once again the season of yellow fruitfulness, last years gym vest and the new uniform as thousands of kids and others go back to school. For Waterloo Road, it’s a new head-teacher and a seeming shift of local to Yorkshire Dale meets shades of Heartbeat or Peak Practice and with the very popular Amanda Burton as the new head with a troubled past, this could pump new life into series six of this chalk and satchel drama.

Burton is TV gold with previous stints in very popular series like Brookside, Peak Practice and Silent Witness. And in keeping with a trend of getting ex-soapers to return to the limelight, Tina O’Brien from Corrie comes back from being lost somewhere. Watch out for Linzey Cocker as Burton’s daughter who sets out to seduce a young teacher and malign her mother in the school magazine.


Now that Pat Short has returned the daft country cop into a series the jokes don’t some freely or quickly enough. If it is a sitcom then it needs more or better sub characters. The only shining grace is Mattie himself and the snappy female detective Sharon Kelly (Lesley Conroy) but she was hampered with a filed running gag about tea/coffee which just stirred short of a – you for coffee line. The Superintendent O’Mara is a cipher despite an actor like Joe Taylor who can do great accents. Even the cowboy cop joke fell flat and Tom and Felix need more jokes. The crazy mammy wasn’t seen at all at all this time.


UTV hit the high ratings with a scary slow-burning stalker story about an Argentinean woman who stalked a psychiatrist and celebrity power boat champion and his fiancée by letter, phone and text in U Be Dead. An unbelieving set of coppers eventually tracked her down and the senior lawyers decided not to allow the case go to court. So, the stalker got a sample of his semen from a used condom in a wheelie bin and smeared her underwear with it and the psychiatrist was arrested for rape.

Far fetched as I thought it was, it turned out to be based on a true story and I kept expecting it to have a twist because the doctor was cheating on his fiancée at the time. The acting was spot-on and the result was impressive. Monica Dolan was excellent as the stalker.

Not Shocked

I think when ITV went for a remake of Boquet of Barbed Wire after thirty years the shock factor of the book and the original series is long gone. This time around a father lusting visually after his daughter seems almost melodramatic with camera edits and a spoiled daughter getting pregnant with a yob English lecturer is old fedora as is the wife lusting after the lecturer and being propositioned by her husband’s boss.

Now father and daughter incest is wrong and creepy but in this series she texts her dad to say she has been SINFUL. It almost seems Dickensian. What does rankle is the fragile daughter allowing her lecturer husband beat and abuse her in this day and age. Not even Trevor Eve at his moody best can save this remake.

Less Shocked

The TV3 series Boozed Up Irish Abroad is another example of yobs and yobesses behaviour dressed up as some sort of outrage and some sort of fly-on-the-wall expose of young Irish drunks vomiting. Nothing new there, and many viewers will be familiar with similar from the several digital channels who regularly feature Ibiza Uncut or such like! Sadly, Irish yobs are no different or any better than UK yobs as these mindless young people see it as a badge of bravado to get hammered in some ritual of enjoyment.

Tough Love

C4 have a fine series running This is England ’86 base don the top punk movie This is England, a 2006 Bafta winner for Shane Meadows. The movie looked at a gang of 1980’s north of England skinheads and was rough, shocking and at times racist with National Front characters. Star of that film was a twelve year old Thomas Turgoose who had a marvelously cinematic face. Now, the series moved three years on and many of the same cast seem more grown up and much less punk, more hair and marriage in the air for two central characters. Turgoose as Shaun an orphan is still being bullied and beaten but overall this series is tamer than Shameless and brighter than the current Eastenders drugs storyline.

Characters are softer, dafter, funnier and full of heart. One guy has a heart attack at a wedding so the whole gang visits him in hospital with cans of cheap lager to toast his revival. He has no beer, so he raises his urine bag in a toast – I fookin luv you all – and it comes across as funny and sentimental. Meadows manages to create great odd characters.