Review : Waterloo Road 6.11
Josh (William Rush) has a new playmate
There was much wailing a fortnight ago when Waterloo Road swiped the Best Drama award from both Doctor Who and Sherlock at the NTAs. The Guardian’s Vicky Frost was particularly outraged. “Sometimes I do wonder whether the people who vote for the NTAs are completely bonkers. Waterloo Road is fine. A decent middle-of-the-road programme. But not something you’d wait for with anticipation – let alone actually vote for.”
When Vicky says ‘you’ she probably means ‘I’. The fact is that the public voted for Waterloo Road, which despite pulling 2million fewer viewers than Doctor Who still has the kind of fans who will bother to vote for it. Its demo is women aged 18-35 and it airs on Wednesday when there is no Eastenders and no Coronation Street so it perfectly fills the serial drama slot, so people do wait for it with anticipation.
Last night’s series seven premiere slotted three new students and one new teacher into the melee at the Rochdale school. Britain’s Got Talent hoofer George Sampson made an impressive start as snarling asbo kid Kyle Stack. He made it to roughly lunchtime before being expelled for sexual assault (of which he was falsely accused) and brought his rottweiller in to deliver some sink estate justice to his accuser. Sampson’s tears as the dog was then taken away to be destroyed gave him a nice showreel episode where he got to play angry, violent, misunderstood, compassionate and wounded in less than an hour.
The accusative party in the sexual assault that never happened was Corrie alumnus Tina O’Brien as Bex, the teen runaway who has now returned to the fold and her mother, the school’s headmistress. Unfortunately she seems to have brought along a dangerous stalker who was revealed to be watching the house in a foreboding final scene. O’Brien does damaged and unpredictable very well and you can bet that the denoument to this storyline will give her a chance to flex those soap acting muscles.
Also new on the scene is Nate Gurney, a self-confident and memorable turn by Scott Haining. This was an unexpected pleasure - a love interest for cute Josh Stevenson who came out last series and a no-nonsense sparky character in his own right. Bravo to Waterloo Road for actually treating its gay teen characters as functioning sexual beings rather than tokenistic background characters who are rolled out when ‘issues’ become necessary. The teaser for next week suggested that Nate is going to waste no time in making moves on Josh. Glee – are you watching? You’re not trying hard enough.
Waterloo Road has become one of the only TV dramas to accurately portray the diversity in personality of teenagers in Britain. Soap kids have to be too OTT to allow realism, and don’t even mention the embarrasing caricatures from Skins who paint modern teenagers as if their lifestyles are a never ending round of parties, drugs and orgies with a patois that Nathan Barley would blush at. How can you take a show seriously when they have character names like Shanky Jenkins, who sounds like he was last seen smuggling pineapple chunks with Godber and Fletch?
Those who are still sore about the NTA’s might want to skip out on next year’s ceremony, because at this rate Waterloo Road will be walking away with the Lacey Turner Award for Best Actress who is Lacey Turner and a few more. Putting their faith in young actors continues to pay off and despite what the Guardian thinks, it looks like a few more people will be tuning in with anticipation.