It may feel like University has only just started, but school’s already out for the latest term at Waterloo Road. I’m sure other fans of the show will agree that this series has been different from any other, predominantly due to the departure of Rachel Mason at the end of the last series, and whilst it was good to finally see happiness for the well loved character in the form of her new husband, Adam Fleet, it was always going to be difficult to replace such a well loved character.
New headmistress Karen Fisher has brought an undeniable amount of fresh drama to the series in the form of tearaway daughter Jess, adulterous husband Charlie, bulimic son Harry and, most noticeably, missing daughter Bex. Despite this, it is difficult to avoid the thought that the writers have strayed away from the original premise of the programme, documenting the real life turnaround of a failing comprehensive school in the North of England, to focus more on the personal life of a head teacher who, for many viewers, does not hold much interest.
On the other hand, it was good to see the writers tackling the issue of bulimia in a sensitive way from a male point of view for a change, rather than retreating to the stereotypical view of teenage girls with eating disorders due to the representation of celebrities in the media.
Another positive to come out of this series is the further exploration of the personal lives of regular teaching characters, such as Grantly Budgen, who, up until the end of this series had been unrelentlessly portrayed as an unsympathetic and uninterested teacher, however the storyline involving his wife Fleur’s struggle with Alzheimer’s and his subsequent financial struggle allowed viewers to empathise with him, opening up the potential for a variety of storylines for the character in the next series.
Despite the best efforts of the writers to steer this series away from the usual Waterloo Road format and try something new, I cannot help but feel that this series was not as wholly satisfying as previous series have been, and despite the reappearance of Bex within the final episode, the series finale struggled to evoke a sense of conclusiveness.