Shiny Shelf


By Eddie Robson on 26 October 2004

When the previous series of ‘Teachers’ aired it seemed faintly ridiculous that Kurt and Brian, originally designed as comic supporting characters, had become the main characters simply because everybody else had left. This year, the show now finds itself in a situation where Penny is the main character.

There is nothing faint about this. It’s just ridiculous. Over the course of four series ‘Teachers’ has replaced every member of its core cast. This kind of turnover just doesn’t work, especially in such a character-driven series as ‘Teachers’. Viewers become tired of getting to grips with new characters on such a regular basis.

What’s more, this is the second year in a row that characters have been dropped between seasons with no forward planning of any kind, and a new romance plotline set up at the end of the previous series has been dropped because one of the actors concerned has left. This time we at least received an explanation of why Kurt, Brian and Matt aren’t in it any more: they’re dead. And the other characters pissed on their graves (literally). Was this purely a joke, or do I detect a hint of bitterness? Quite simply, they need to tie actors in for a longer haul.

The first episode of this series was one of the weakest episodes of ‘Teachers’ thus far, but given that it had so much to cope with – introducing three new core cast members and the move to a new school – it’s perhaps not representative. Unfortunately however the show’s excellent track record of finding comic actors does not seem to be continuing into this series. None of the new regulars were greatly impressive on their debuts, although it doesn’t help that two of the new characters (Matthew Horne’s Ben and Daon Broni’s Damien) are fairly straightforward Kurt and Brian replacements.

There’s a chance that Ewan (Lee Williams) could develop into the anchoring presence which Matt (James Lance) became last series. Lance is a serious loss to the show – he and Vicky Hall (Lindsey) held series three together through endless plots in which Kurt and/or Brian embarked on some deluded scheme. With him gone, Hall has nobody to play off – at least until the writers get to grips with the other characters.

In the meantime, Bob (Lloyd Maguire) has been given a more central role, which is a mistake. As a supporting character he was fine, but watching him in this episode I feel that there’s not much more can be done with him. The revelation that his supposedly forthcoming marriage was to a mail-order bride held no surprises, yet was drawn out to the very end of the episode. It would have been more useful to spend this episode developing the new characters – but as their plotline largely involved their refusal to speak to the established characters, development was thin on the ground.

Most alarmingly, this episode just wasn’t that funny. ‘Green Wing’ has been cited as an attempt to replicate the success of ‘Teachers’, but on present form ‘Green Wing’ is a long way ahead. Hopefully this series will improve once the new set-up beds in, but its position as one of British TV’s best shows has definitely slipped.

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By Eddie Robson

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