Reviews

This Week in TV: Doctor Who, The Great British Bake-Off, Stammer School and Big School

This week’s instalment provides another mixed bag of Timelords, schools and bins; so let’s get started shall we?

dw8r10landscape01jpg 8de732 This Week in TV: Doctor Who, The Great British Bake Off, Stammer School and Big School
It’s fair to say there was somewhat of a mixed reception last August when Peter Capaldi was announced as the new Doctor Who. Whilst I was personally excited, it was unusual to have such a mature actor playing the Timelord when the last two inhabitants of the Tardis have been David Tennant and Matt Smith. But, just like a large majority of you, I settled down to watch Capaldi’s debut in the episode in entitled Deep Breath. The major theme of the episode was Clara attempting to get use to this older incarnation of The Doctor, having been blatantly attracted to his predecessor. The Victorian London setting allowed Vastra, Strax and Jenny to be involved in the action as The Doctor and Clara brought a dinosaur with them. With The Doctor still experiencing his regeneration woes, it was up to his allies to try and work out why so many of the locals had been the victims of spontaneous human combustion. After having got used to his new face, and Scottish accent, The Doctor took Clara along to a restaurant which they soon realised was being run by a robot who was trying to become human by harvesting body parts. I really enjoyed how an episode about the robot changing his appearance was included in an episode which was dealing with Clara’s acceptance of the new Doctor. As is always the way, The Doctor triumphed over his adversary but found it harder to convince Clara that he was the same man that she knew. It took a phone call from The Doctor’s previous incarnation to win her over and I’m glad there’s a new dynamic to the companion/Doctor relationship.

doctor who deep breath This Week in TV: Doctor Who, The Great British Bake Off, Stammer School and Big School
I personally feel it’s too early to judge whether or not Capaldi will excel in the role of The Doctor due to the fact that this obligatory post-regeneration episode didn’t seem him at his full capacity. However, once the episode got going, Capaldi appeared to be in his element and relished all the action scenes that were given to him in Deep Breath. Additionally Capaldi brought a vulnerability to the role in the final scenes which saw The Doctor plead with Clara to continue to fly with him. I have to say that I wasn’t a fan of Clara during the last series but it appears as if Steven Moffatt has finally given her something to do other than looking wistfully into Matt Smith’s eyes. As Capaldi promised us that The Doctor and Clara aren’t going to have a Papa and Nicole style relationship, I’m looking forward to seeing a companion who doesn’t see the Timelord as a potential love interest. After having a tough time of it last series, Jenna Coleman is finally injecting some personality into Clara and for the first time I really cared about her safety. The episode also benefited from having the brilliant Ben Wheatley as the director and he brilliantly captured a Victorian London that was under threat from robots and a dinosaur. My one issue with the episode was its length and I didn’t really see the need for Deep Breath to be feature length and my theory is that it was extended due to the fact it was playing in cinemas. I get the feeling that both Capaldi and the series will improve now that Doctor Who is reverting to the 45 minute format. I’m also intrigued to see where Moffatt will take Michelle Gomez’s Missy and more importantly I wonder who she is. Ultimately I feel it’s great to have Doctor Who back on our screens and with Capaldi at the helm I believe that the fantasy drama will be a lot different than it has been in recent years.

It’s fair to say there was somewhat of a mixed reception last August when Peter Capaldi was announced as the new Doctor Who. Whilst I was personally excited, it was unusual to have such a mature actor playing the Timelord when the last two inhabitants of the Tardis have been David Tennant and Matt Smith. But, just like a large majority of you, I settled down to watch Capaldi’s debut in the episode in entitled Deep Breath. The major theme of the episode was Clara attempting to get use to this older incarnation of The Doctor, having been blatantly attracted to his predecessor. The Victorian London setting allowed Vastra, Strax and Jenny to be involved in the action as The Doctor and Clara brought a dinosaur with them. With The Doctor still experiencing his regeneration woes, it was up to his allies to try and work out why so many of the locals had been the victims of spontaneous human combustion. After having got used to his new face, and Scottish accent, The Doctor took Clara along to a restaurant which they soon realised was being run by a robot who was trying to become human by harvesting body parts. I really enjoyed how an episode about the robot changing his appearance was included in an episode which was dealing with Clara’s acceptance of the new Doctor. As is always the way, The Doctor triumphed over his adversary but found it harder to convince Clara that he was the same man that she knew. It took a phone call from The Doctor’s previous incarnation to win her over and I’m glad there’s a new dynamic to the companion/Doctor relationship.

I personally feel it’s too early to judge whether or not Capaldi will excel in the role of The Doctor due to the fact that this obligatory post-regeneration episode didn’t seem him at his full capacity. However, once the episode got going, Capaldi appeared to be in his element and relished all the action scenes that were given to him in Deep Breath. Additionally Capaldi brought a vulnerability to the role in the final scenes which saw The Doctor plead with Clara to continue to fly with him. I have to say that I wasn’t a fan of Clara during the last series but it appears as if Steven Moffatt has finally given her something to do other than looking wistfully into Matt Smith’s eyes. As Capaldi promised us that The Doctor and Clara aren’t going to have a Papa and Nicole style relationship, I’m looking forward to seeing a companion who doesn’t see the Timelord as a potential love interest. After having a tough time of it last series, Jenna Coleman is finally injecting some personality into Clara and for the first time I really cared about her safety. The episode also benefited from having the brilliant Ben Wheatley as the director and he brilliantly captured a Victorian London that was under threat from robots and a dinosaur. My one issue with the episode was its length and I didn’t really see the need for Deep Breath to be feature length and my theory is that it was extended due to the fact it was playing in cinemas. I get the feeling that both Capaldi and the series will improve now that Doctor Who is reverting to the 45 minute format. I’m also intrigued to see where Moffatt will take Michelle Gomez’s Missy and more importantly I wonder who she is. Ultimately I feel it’s great to have Doctor Who back on our screens and with Capaldi at the helm I believe that the fantasy drama will be a lot different than it has been in recent years.

gbbo4 iain upset This Week in TV: Doctor Who, The Great British Bake Off, Stammer School and Big School
You would think that the latest incarnation of one of the most iconic characters in British TV would be the biggest telly story of the week. Instead, the nation became obsessed with one moment when an old lady took some ice cream out of the freezer for forty minutes. No I’m not talking about a freezer cabinet meltdown at a local Iceland Store but rather the infamous bin-gate scandal on The Great British Bake-Off. For those of you living under a rock, it all kicked off in the tent when 69-year-old Diana removed Iain’s ice cream from the chest freezer during the Arctic Roll showstopper challenge. As it was a particularly warm day at the tent, it was no surprise when Iain’s ice cream melted which in turn prompted him to throw his offering in the bin and storm off. Unsurprisingly this childlike behaviour was frowned upon by Mary and especially Paul who felt that Iain could’ve let the pair taste other elements of his dessert that hadn’t been ruined. Although Iain was eliminated primarily because of this incident I don’t think he would’ve lasted more than a couple of weeks in the contest. But this didn’t stop Twitter going berserk and demanding Iain be reinstated on the show, despite the fact that it’s taped weeks in advance. Further controversy occurred when it was revealed that Diana pulled out of the competition shortly afterwards due to ill-health. Things just got a bit bizarre when Iain appeared on Newsnight to discuss the incident and stress that there was no ill will between he and Diana. On The Last Leg, I feel Adam Hills put it best when he claimed that we were outraged by this small incident due to the fact that there is so much horrid stuff going on in the world that we don’t quite know how to deal with it. But I personally love living in a country where such a small incident can become front page news.

faca37f2 32c1 4b57 a2cc c7ff7481a554 625x352 This Week in TV: Doctor Who, The Great British Bake Off, Stammer School and Big School
After revisiting Thornhill in last week’s Educating Yorkshire retrospective, Channel 4 aired another programme focusing on the programme’s most memorable character. Of course I’m talking about Musharaf Asghar who tried to cure his stammer once and for all in the one-off documentary Stammer School. The programme was bookended by two visits to Thornhill during which Mr Burton explained that the headphone technique that helped the schoolboy conquer his stammer was only ever meant to be a temporary stopgap. So we followed Musharaf as he entered the McGuire programme which helped people with stutters to overcome their disability. One of the unique aspects of the programme was that all of the mentors assigned to help each individual student had themselves had a stutter at one point. Obviously, as he was the person we’d known previously, Musharaf was presented as the star of the show and it was clear that he had the hardest struggle to overcome his stutter. But the character I found to be the most sympathetic was 24-year-old Vicky who’d developed a stutter after suffering a small stroke. The scene in which Vicky announces to a packed bar that she suffers from a stutter was one of the most emotional moments of the documentary and I felt myself joining in the round of applause that the punters gave her. But, just like the final episode of Educating Yorkshire, it was a speech given by Musharaf and his fellow students that opened the floodgates once again. As the camera focused on his friends and family; Musharaf was able to speak clearly without the use of his headphones. This absolutely brilliant programme finished with Musharaf’s return to Thornhill as he helped out as an assistant teacher in a science class. The programme’s final word came from Mushy’s original teacher Mr Burton who was no worried that his former pupil would one day take his job.

Big School FT 779x400 This Week in TV: Doctor Who, The Great British Bake Off, Stammer School and Big School
From Thornhill we travel to Greybridge for a second series of David Walliams’ Big School. There have been a few changes at the school the most notable being that Gareth Barber has left teaching after a nervous breakdown and is now the school’s janitor. The new geography teacher is none other than Mr Gunn who is trying to broaden his horizons as he steps out of the gym. The only problem is that he knows nothing about the subject he’s teaching and can’t even pronounce geography correctly. Meanwhile, music teacher Mr Martin is celebrating his last day in school following the successful launch of his new single ‘Soar’. One thing that remains the same is Mr Church’s need to impress Miss Poston especially since their first date went completely wrong. As with everything in Big School, Miss Poston’s careers day is an utter disaster primarily due to Church’s performance at a mock job interview and Gunn’s woeful CV workshop. The big finale at the careers day is a talk by a JK Rowling-esque author who Miss Poston went to school with. Rather predictably the French teacher hits out at her former friend and accuses her of basically ripping off Harry Potter. But then again predictability is one of the elements we’ve come to expect from Big School; a sitcom where most of the punchlines come from about a mile off. Thankfully, just like it’s running mate Boomers, Big School survives thanks to a talented cast who do their best to make their characters as funny as possible. Whilst Walliams and Catherine Tate are on form, it’s Philip Glenister who once again proves that he’s a brilliant comic actor with Mr Gunn proving to be the most rounded character. Whether Big School will survive after this second series remains to be seen but it’s clear that Walliams has created a successful mainstream sitcom even if not all of the jokes hit the mark.

Next Time: Educating the East End, Our Zoo and Chasing Shadows

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