This year sees the very last of Waterloo Road being made and screened. And although that is a little sad to hear, I am firmly of the belief that this drama has run its course. Infact, I’d say a couple of series too many, perhaps. However, I’m going to look back at the first few series of the show, when it was still in its prime and remember the really good times.
Feel free to join me!
From the DVD cover about Series One: Waterloo Road comprehensive is on the scrap heap. It can be found very near the bottom of every league table there is. Its despondent teachers have given up trying to make a difference as they struggle to cope with their own personal problems as well as their nightmare jobs. When the current Headmaster has a nervous breakdown, Jack Rimmer is thrown into the hot seat – very reluctantly. Jack is only too aware of the fate Waterloo Road will suffer if it doesn’t improve – and fast.
He takes a huge gamble in recruiting optimistic, educational zealot Andrew Treneman who wants to give up his comfortable private school job to bring the benefits of his elite educational experience to Waterloo Road. Oxbridge educated Andrew is convinced strict discipline is the only way to save the kids and Waterloo Road comprehensive from closure but he underestimates the massive size of the task. To his dismay, he discovers a big part of his job is to re-enthuse Jack whose solution to most management problems is a drink down the pub. Together with feisty Guidance Head Kim Campbell the three teachers – all committed in their very different ways – set to turn around Waterloo Road, painful step by painful step.
So, that’s what the cover has to say about it – but how does the series live up? There’s some pretty key characters in the opening Series of Waterloo Road which influence the entire running of the show from there onwards – and we’ll pick up on those as we go on.
From the cover: When the current Headmaster has a nervous breakdown, Jack Rimmer is thrown into the hot seat – very reluctantly. He takes a huge gamble in recruiting Andrew Treneman who promptly clashes with art teach Kim Campbell. English teacher Tom Clarkson’s life is a mess. He’s about to marry live-in girlfriend and fellow teacher Lorna Dickey, but he has fallen hook, line and sinker for Lorna’s closeest friend – drama teacher Izzie Redpath.
If you want to watch the episode I really suggest buying the DVD series – they’re readily available from Amazon. Of course if you want to cheat, there are various video websites that you can find it.
OK, so we meet a lot of the main characters of the show in this opening episode, and the stories are set up for the coming series. It only seems right to start with Jack and Andrew. A pair who seem to be polar opposites, but by the end of the episode we quickly realise that they have the same goal – to see WLR succeed. Jack has clearly lost any passion for teaching and his job, which is why Andrew is such a refreshing character in comparison. Although they clash at first, with Andrew playing the ‘have-a-go-hero’, they finish the episode with a plan and mission in mind.
Andrew pretty much reminds me of those ‘old-school’ teachers that we all had. The ones with the firm rules that everyone had respect for. You waited outside the classroom, and behind your desk. You were strictly seated in boy-girl routine. His outlook on teaching is refreshing because while everyone else is busy point out the differences between his previous experience of a private school and the rough ‘hooligan’ kids of WLR, his stance remains the same throughout – all kids are fundamentally the same – needing rules and boundaries.
Jack’s motives for being Head aren’t really all the clear from the offset. He doesn’t seem to care all that much and he really just wants to get through the day, to get to the pub. I think, if you’re a first time watcher, you’d wonder what he is doing in the position (it’s pretty clear that he’s ‘fallen’ into it, after the demise of the previous Head). Fortunately, as the series progresses you see why he is such a good fit for the job.
When we are introduced to Kim it’s very much as another person to point out the trials Andrew is going to face in his new position, but in my opinion, instantaneously we see a connection between the two of them. Yes, she thinks Andrew is naive but then there’s some of those ‘looks’ between them and even half an hour into this episode we’re already egging the pair of them on. They bounce off each other really well with quick quips. It’s clear to see that Kim, in Andrew’s eyes, is the soft touch – as far as teachers go. Although, as an audience we’re yet to see her really interact with any of the kids thus far.
Moving on to Tom, Lorna and Izzie. A love triangle in the making. We first meet Tom and Lorna as a couple preparing for their wedding day. But it’s pretty obvious that Tom isn’t really into it at all! Within a few minutes he’s already called it off and it’s up to Lorna’s best friend Izzie to pick up the pieces. I have to admit I am a HUGE Izzie fan, I think she is possibly one of my 2 favourite characters in the entire show, despite actually not being in it for all that long of an amount of time comparitively to some of the other characters. And here it’s quite amazing to watch as she realises that Tom’s problem is that he has feelings for her, and not Lorna. At first she is shocked and surprised and denies she feels the same, but we watch her slowly unravel during the episode and realise that she is harbouring feelings for Tom – and well, it’s only going to end in tears, isn’t it? Or, actually, it ends in a wedding day kiss.
There’s a scene in the episode with her and Lorna and it’s clear that she is close to both of them (although personally I find Lorna the most irritating, whingey and annoying character going!) and she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place with what to do. Ultimately, she chooses not to be involved with Tom and sets them on the path of a Happily Ever After. Only to then end up locking lips with Tom at the end of the episode. Ooops.
I adore Tom and Izzie as a couple, and find myself swaying towards the two of them rather than Lorna. Infact, perhaps I dislike Lorna so much because I’m so on board with Tom and Izzie! It also makes Tom a lot more likeable!
We also get a small introduction to Izzie’s family – Chlo and Mika (and ex-husband) Jimmy. Chlo’s relationship with bad boy Donte is the main focus as we watch them get into trouble and cause havoc, ultimately resulting the car accident at the end of the episode which has huge repurcussions on them both in the coming series. I really find myself disliking the pair of them, due to their attitude I think throughout the opening series. Which is strange really, because the pair of them remain with the show for many years, probably becoming one of the most liked couples from fans.
There are a few other key characters we get introduced to as well in this episode: Steph Haydock – the drunk french teacher with a soft spot for Jack, and Grantly Budgen – stalwart English teacher who like whisky and gambling. But more from them in the coming series.
My overall episode rating: 10/10
Episode memorable quotes:
Jack: What can I get you?
Andrew: Deputy headship.
Jack: [On the phone] Of course we have an anti-bullying strategy. The police have an anti-crime stategy, it doesn’t stop it happening!
Lorna: I’ll kill myself if he leaves me.
Tom: It’s the truth. I love you.
Tom: I want you tell me the truth. Tell me what you really feel about me.
Izzie: Don’t you dare think of blaming any of this on me.
Kim: Did you not think of the consequences before you decided to confront it?
Aandrew: He assualted me! What is it about this place, you’ve lost sight of what’s right and wrong?
Kim: Excuse me I’m not going to be lectured at.
Andrew: You’ve got a school full of kids who know they can create hell and get away with it, thanks to teachers like you explaining it away.
Kim: Have you any idea what were dealing with at WLR?! 70% of our kids are from single parent homes.
Andrew: Doesnt mean they shouldn’t behave themselves.
Kim: No it doesn’t. But it causes difficulties. 22 of our kids are on ASBOs, God knows what percentage are on drugs. We’ve got the highest rate of underage pregnanct in the whole country. Basically we’re talking poverty.
Andrew: If you lower your expectations of what poor kids can achieve they’re going to stay poor.
Andrew: May I have the honour?
Kim: Oh can you not just drop the upper class act twit act for one second?
Andrew: Technically I’m middle class – my dads a dentist. ‘Twit’ of course can’t be helped.