So we’re done with another season, Moffat’s second as showrunner, and it looks like I got a fair bit right in my assessment last week.
The point of this year’s story was to cut the Doctor down to size. He’s now invisible to the Silence and his principal enemies, who now think him dead. His future incarnation knew who the Impossible Astronaut was, and so did River’s. And the ‘Doctor’ who ‘died’ was indeed not him, but it wasn’t a Ganger – instead it was a robot body provided by the Teselecta (although as I’ll get back to this creates more problems than it solves).
I have to say I loved the series but I’m no wiser to what’s going on now than I was at its outset. Series 6 pretty much answered its own self-contained questions, but the outstanding questions from series 5 were bafflingly left hanging. Why was the Tardis blown up and the universe rebooted? I’m no clearer to what the point of series 5 actually was – was it jus another assassination attempt or was there a deeper purpose? Worse, was it another ‘Bad Wolf’ moment – a great idea by the show runner, who never gets about to explaining it?
I’m enjoying the sophistication, but I’m getting worn down by subplots taking too long to resolve. Moffat may have budget problems with the BBc, but why do we still have multiple, poorer quality filler episodes, which could be used to tell his story? RTD’s series finales tended to be poorly written but at least he gave us a start, middle and end for each series!
High point for series six though were plentiful: Neil Gaiman’s episode, River Song every time she turned up (but especially in her origin episode), and the unexpected gems like ‘The Girl Who Waited’. Matt Smith sure raised his game, now fully comfortable in the role, but who though Karen Gillan would do the same? I’m now hoping she returns in 2012, which I couldn’t say this time last year. There were down sides too of course: Mark Gatiss’ episode (again), that godawful pirate story, and the whole ‘big reveal’ about Melody/River was handled kackhandedly, but these were mostly unimportant, and anyway RTD had more than his fair share of clunkers on his watch.
I would sway though that Moffat needs to have a think about how he approaches series 7 in the coming months – if the only thing he has to say about Who is the River Song/Silence saga maybe he needs to leave the stage soon. He’s written the best stories I’ve seen in the current era, but has largely side stepped the needs of RTD-era fans for straightforward resolutions to grand plots. I wish I knew what the current plot is ultimately all about. The answer to the question ‘Doctor Who?’ surely doesn’t need three years to resolve. And for that matter can someone please tell me how th Teselecta robot managed to mimic a Time Lord’s regeneration?!
Personally I’m going to go with ‘no’, but it’ll be interesting to see how we’re going to get there. My theories (in addition to what we know) are:
- The object of Moffat’s run so far has been to cut the godlike RTD figure down – his ‘death’ will be sleight of hand;
- The Doctor knew in episode 1 that the Impossible Astronaut was River Song, and so did her ‘present’ incarnation;
- The Doctor and River Song both lie – just because we’re still being led to think that it’s the Doctor who’s shot by River Song, it doesn’t mean it’s not a Ganger.
My questions however remain:
- What was the point of rebooting the universe? Was that actually River blowing up the Tardis?
- ‘Silence Will Fall’, eh? So the whole thing has been about killing The Doctor? A simple yet dastardly plot? Is the assassination in America just a second attempt by the Silence movement?
- Who the hell is Madame Kovarian?
Comments and theories welcome!
G is for GASP!!! I love it. I may use it. You can tell I’m not feeling serious about anything this morning.
It’s looking increasingly like it’s back on the 27th of this month. Are you excited? Particularly after the word of mouth about ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ (s6 ep 08) I certainly am!
Brian Sewell, whom noone could ever accuse of being too gay *snigger* offers this deep analysis in the HateMail:
Is it true that the lives of heterosexual Mancunians are haplessly intertwined with transvestites, transsexuals, teenage lesbians and a horde of homosexuals across the age range? Is Manchester now the Sodom of the North?
Coronation Street has a gay scriptwriter, Damon Rochefort. Fine. Nothing wrong with that. Indeed, its very first writer, its inventor in 1959, Tony Warren, was gay and open about it when homosexuality was still illegal and the penalties dire — and had a tough time with homophobia.
But the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, and where once we had no gaiety at all, we now, perhaps, have rather too much.
So a man who isn’t at all ‘too gay’ says it’s ok for the country’s premier soap opera to depict homosexuality, but not beyond a certain level. Gosh. Does he not understand what a soap opera is? For that matter does he not know Manchester?! But he goes on:
We have constructed a society that surrenders to the will of minorities that shout. We see it among ethnic minorities and sexual minorities, in the disabled lobby and in the funding, patronage and promotion of the arts.
And giving these minorities a huge voice is fundamental to the philosophy of those in charge of TV. As a result, TV is far too politically correct. It fosters all minorities and gives them a disproportionate amount of airtime.
In every kind of programme — be it drama, news, debate or for children — in this land of equal opportunities, minorities are given the opportunity to punch above their weight.
This is an art critic writing, who clearly doesn’t understand what art is about. Unsurprisingly perhaps, given that he’s writing in the HateMail, he’s ascribing a negative agenda to the proper and fair depiction of social diversity – a mean spirited agenda not born out by the facts. Charlie Condou points out:
There are only four regular gay characters in Coronation Street – I play Marcus Dent, who’s in a relationship with Sean Tully (played by Antony Cotton), and there’s also the young lesbian couple Sophie Webster and Sian Powers. That’s it. Hayley Cropper was once a man, but she’s been one of the show’s most popular characters since she joined 13 years ago, the first transsexual ever in a British soap. There is a cross-dresser in Marc Selby, but he is straight and in fact has two women fighting over him. Gail’s father, Ted, was gay – but he hasn’t been in it for years. I wouldn’t have thought four characters out of a cast of about 65 regulars was excessive.
Sewell seems to suggest there’s something morally reprehensible in being gay, and that there’s some kind of promotion of a gay agenda at work (led by a sinister-sounding “mafia”). But in fact you barely see a kiss from the gay characters, just like our heterosexual counterparts. It’s not a “sexy” show.
It’s not about ‘sexy’ of course, it’s about Sewell suggesting he’ll put up with homosexuality (and the HateMail’s readership should too), as long as ‘we’ don’t rub ‘their’ noses in it. That couldn’t be more of a homophobic stance to take. Soap operas may not be high art, but they have traditionally blazed trails worldwide in confronting issues and pushing boundaries, and most viewers have always understood this. Sewell says:
If the audience responds to the proselytising and is happy for the street to swarm with gloomy lesbians and happy homosexuals engaged in relationships ranging from intensely monogamous to brief, shallow and promiscuous, then it must be broadcast after the watershed.
But I don’t think the viewers agree. The days where the pro-Section 28 argument, that we ‘recruit’, could wash with the general public have long since come to an end. Why on earth should non-sexual same-sex relationships only be shown after 9pm? What era does this camp art critic think we’re living in? This argument isn’t really about somehow ‘purifying’ our culture from a homosexual excess – by using language such as ‘Sodom of the North’, Sewell has demonstrated it’s about his promotion of naked bigotry. He’s trying to gain legitimacy by pretending to stand up for a working class which is being misrepresented, but of course the working class in this country has traditionally stood up for proper gay representation better than almost anyone else. And of course he wouldn’t dare try to publish this hatchet job in the Morning Star or Socialist Worker – he and his sponsor Paul Dacre know just who they’re really aiming at. They can both fuck off.
This couldn’t be more priceless:
(via Steven Moffat…of all people)
A man who attended Tracy Morgan’s recent show in Nashville claims the comedian launched an anti-gay tirade during which he said he’d “pull out a knife and stab” his son if he were gay.
In a Facebook post titled “Why I No Longer ‘Like’ Tracy Morgan — A Must Read,” Kevin Rogerswrote that he’d been a big fan of Morgan’s since he was a cast member on Saturday Night Live.Rogers, who is gay, wrote that he was prepared for “a good ribbing of straight gay humor” but was surprised at what he claims the 30 Rock star said onstage. GLAAD responds to Morgan’s anti-gay jokes.
“I have very thick skin when it comes to humor; I can dish and I can take,” Rogers wrote. “What I can’t take is when Mr. Morgan took it upon himself to mention about how he feels all this gay shit was crazy and that women are a gift from God and that ‘Born this Way’ is bulls-it, gay is a choice, and the reason he knows this is exactly because ‘God don’t make no mistakes’ (referring to God not making someone gay cause that would be a mistake). He said that there is no way a woman could love and have sexual desire for another woman, that’s just a woman pretending because she hates a f–king man. He took time to visit the bullshit of this bullying stuff and informed us that the gays needed to quit being pussies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying.”
Morgan allegedly added that “gay was something kids learn from the media and programming” (Rogers’ words).
Continued Rogers: “He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death. … Tracy then said he didn’t f–king care if he pissed off some gays, because if they can take a f–king d-ck up their a–… they can take a f–king joke.”
Rogers claims that “none of this rant was a joke. His entire demeanor changed during that portion of the night. He was truly filled with some hate towards us.”
(from Hollywood Reporter)
If this is exactly what happened (I can’t imagine how the comments could possibly have been misconstrued), Morgan needs to lose his job in ’30 Rock’, it’s very simple. Homophobia like this needs to be stamped on and stamped on fast. I doubt anything will happen though, because of course Charlie Sheen had to lose his dignity entirely (and repeatedly) and trash his bosses in public for that to happen to him – why should Tracy Morgan face any significant consequences for naked anti-gay hate? He’s since apologised:
“I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context.”
But I don’t think his apology should be accepted – it’s abundantly clear what’s ‘in his heart’. He clearly meant what he said (it wasn’t the first time – read the whole article) and only apologised to get out of trouble. This being the Internet, I’m bound to get a number of Americans bleating about the First Amendment, and it’s a worthwhile point to raise. Firstly my country has no such thing – freedom of speech isn’t absolute here (as it isn’t in America), but secondly by all means let the homophobe say what he likes. Hate speech should have social consequences and he should lose his job anyway. Also there may not be legal consequences to hate speech like this in America, but in the UK what Morgan said would be enough to (rightly) generate criminal charges.
I have a very strong suspicion this one is completely correct. But first…
We’re hours away now from the mid-season finale of Doctor Who series 6, and unlike the disappointingly paced series 5, we have a great deal to talk about ahead of the alleged massive cliffhanger later on. Seeing as I’m boosting this blog post into my Facebook and Twitter though, it’ll need
It’s River Song. We know that River Song is Amy’s daughter. The truth is incontrovertibly here, but what does that actually tell us about what we’ve already seen? Here goes:
The universe has successfully rebooted after all but nothing is as it seems. The apparently 1103 year old Doctor leads his friends (and himself) to his execution and wake, but why? Amy sees a Silent, who promptly kidnaps her, leaving all players with no memory of her abduction. Well, almost none – River knows what’s happening to her mother, stops Amy (presumably Ganger Amy) from rescuing the Doctor, makes her think he’s dead (she never admits it) and conveniently fails to kill Eleven’s apparent assassin. I suspect because she remembers not getting shot by her future self (and River is all about not upsetting the timeline).
Kidnapped Amy’s personality continues to feed through to her Ganger body, which the Doctor is fully aware of; the snippits of Madame Kovarian are flashes to what her real body is experiencing. This explains Kovarian’s cryptic comment when Amy ‘sees’ her in the orphanage – the real Amy isn’t even there, nor is she rescued by the Doctor and companions. But what of the Silence’s timeship, and who is the Time Lord child wandering around New York?
River Song (initial name to be revealed as Melody Pond) is the tool in a conspiracy to kill the Doctor – Kovarian herself admits she’s been taken to use a weapon, presumably against the Doctor. Except Amy kills her, as she rescues her daughter, which somehow this kills off the timeline, which the Doctor has also been murdered in, but also results in a new, utterly mad timeline. How does this affect the existence of Pond twins? Is River’s Time Lord sibling (how exactly?) wiped out, with Melody/River going on on her own? We know River and the Doctor are married in her past/his future, and it’s not unreasonable to think that the regenerating child is their offspring. But how does the word about twins feed into that?
The questions I have remaining are this:
- Who is it masterminding the kidnapping of Amy and manipulation of Melody/River? Madame Kovarian seems to be working for the Silence – who has something to gain from this grand plan? Another incarnation of the Doctor (a la Dream Lord)? Or is another coalition of his enemies gathered against him because of something he’s done – it’s referred to in one of these videos, and could well be what makes him accept he’s deserving of execution.
- Who is the Time Lord child? If she’s River (which I doubt), why can’t River regenerate (or has she even lied about that, to her grave)? My suspicion is she’s River’s and the Doctor’s child – we have been assuming the child and the pregnancy are connected – what if the reason Eleven is so protective over her at the end of Episode 1 is because he knows who she is? What if the alliance against him is because of something he’s done to her?
- The Doctor tells River something at the end of the series which will undo his death (which Ganger Amy unwittingly revealed to him this week) – what is it?
- Who is Amy Pond? How can she (and just she) reimagine the Doctor into existence after Big Bang II? What’s so special about her that it should be she who’s kidnapped for her child?
I’ve seen recent complaints that this series isn’t as accessible as Russell T Davies’, and whilst I’d agree, I’m also delighted with what we’ve got. RTD played to the gallery well, and was careful not to make his extended storylines too long or too complicated – I can understand the criticism of Moffat in this, but I love it. It may not play anywhere near as well to children as some believe it should but a) that’s pretty dismissive of children’s ability to track complex storylines (I’ve only heard adults complain they don’t know what’s going on) and b) the post RTD era had to be different. Having said that I hope these storylines are completely wrapped up this series (with maybe some intrigue left about River Song), and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the last we saw of Amy and Rory as companions.
I’m sorry it’s taken me such a long time to report back on Neil (‘Sandman’) Gaiman’s debut writing effort on Who, but what can you say about this episode other than that it was just beautiful. A love letter to the past, present and future, hitting old, familiar beats and creating new ones, this epitomised the potential of Steven Moffat’s run – sophisticated narratives, strong character development and filling in gaps (albeit off-screen) in canon, making you long for more.
The Doctor receives a message in a box, which could only have come from a Time Lord. Racing into the pocket universe from which it was sent, he, Rory and Amy find themselves on a sentient junkyard world, but all is not as it seems. The Tardis matrix is ripped from the console room, as House unveils its trap, leaving the time travellers in genuine danger and the Doctor with no idea of how to escape, while his companions run for their lives through a suddenly possessed Tardis. But they are far from helpless – the matrix has been deposited in the body of patchwork human Idris (Suranne Jones), who gets to talk one-on-one with her Doctor for the very first time.
The relationship between Time Lord and his ‘old girl’ is investigated with warmth, sensitivity and huge intelligence. It has to – he lives his life out of order and she exists throughout all time and space simultaneously – how on earth can they possibly understand one another? The acting picks up on this and is just sublime – Suranne Jones in particular as Idris is spellbinding – channelling Helena Bonham-Carter style madness yet refining it into incredible sophistication, acting as the perfect foil for a 900 year old man who’s still a boy at heart. ‘What makes you think I would ever give you back’ made me laugh out loud. It would be churlish not to remark on just how good Matt Smith is in this episode too – it’s hard to imagine David Tennant delivering the Doctor’s joy and bewilderment in such an honest yet alien way. His Eleventh Doctor is a brilliant creation, and his ability to vary his performance (under the right director) from boyish glee to ancient stature really is exactly what Steven Moffat’s run needed.
The production values this time around are also superb – Victorian costumes, possessed Ood and half eaten Tardises sit alongside butchered Time Lords, patchwork people and even a (welcome) return to the coral console room used by the Doctor’s last two incarnations. The revelation that the companions are standing in a graveyard of hundreds of Tardises and Time Lords is particularly fascinating and horrific (and impressively delivered), and Gaiman doesn’t scrimp on the horror. The architect of many of the last of the Time Lords’ people’s demises (voiced brilliantly by Michael Sheen) puts captives Amy and Rory through extraordinary levels of hell, and it’s unsettling viewing. Yet it’s delightfully filled with humour too: from Idris’ remarks about the Doctor’s misuse of her front doors to the freshly revealed irony of their very first encounter and the true nature of their relationship (‘I always got you where you needed to go’), the master author is always sure to vary the sensitivity of his touch.
It’s an episode with enormous heart, as the Tardis of course can’t remain in a human host, leaving the Doctor to continue with the way things used to be between them, and I must confess I was pretty moved by their parting comments. Yet now they understand each other for the first time, and Amy rightly voiced the truth that these two travellers will stay together long after his human friends leave him. ’The Doctor’s Wife’ didn’t expand on the series’ mysteries, other than a cryptic comment about (presumably) River Song, but it didn’t matter. Directed by Richard Clark, this standalone did what others in Steven Moffat’s run haven’t always managed – it delivered humour and horror alongside dramatic character development (which I hope Moffat draws on), whilst evolving the mythos in a way to appeal to viewers old, new, classic and rebooted. I really hope this isn’t the last we see of Gaiman. It may be the best episode of the series ever written.
This should do just the trick. If only the real show were like this…
OK so there are plenty of people (particularly a certain niece of mine) who won’t want to (or shouldn’t) read this post. It’s incredibly spoiler heavy and full of speculation about what the the underlying plot of series 6. So here’s your chance to click somewhere else and here’s a little
Why did the Doctor kill himself?
It was clearly planned – you can tell by the Doctor’s body language. Delaware knew, the Silence knew and River seems to have known something. The secrets are spoken too far away from the companions to know, so what could cause the Doctor voluntarily to walk into his death? It certainly seems connected to something involving Amy and/or River, but what? His and Amy’s true relationship is apparently going to be revealed – what don’t we already know? Remember him lying about the crack in space following her around him series 5…?
What’s the secret of the space suit?
Why is it used to kidnap the little girl and to kill Eleven?
And who was in it when it killed the Doctor (whom he clearly knew in advance would be there)? River Song in ep 1 says ‘of course not’ when she fails to kill whoever was in the suit. Does she know what’s going on because that was her in the suit? It’s highly unlikely Eleven remains dead at the end of the series, so short of rebooting the universe again, how do they do it?
What’s with the quantum pregnancy?
Why do the Silence need the Doctor to know about it? Amy’s nauseous one minute, then not the next. So is River. Rumours are abounding online about two children.
Who is the little girl?
If she’s Amy’s child how can she regenerate? And who’s the father? If she’s River Song, why does she seem to have no Time Lord-related talents at all?
Who is Eye Patch Lady?
Amy has serious lost time from ep 2 when she was kidnapped by the Silence. Did they impregnate her? What is a humanoid doing voluntarily working for/with the Silence? Apparently named Madame Kovarian, is Amy dreaming of her or remembering her? And why?
Can time really be rewritten?
His previous incarnations insisted not, but Eleven was gung ho about it in series 5. What are the implications for rewriting time and who would really benefit from it?
What’s with the Silence’s Tardis?
It’s the same one cloaked above James Corden’s flat in series 5, which needed a Time Lord to be activated. So why is it constantly hidden, whose is it really, and why not just try to kidnap the Doctor to power it?
Who is River Song?
In her first appearance in the Library she knew his name. The kiss in ep 2 suggests just the relationship that Ten theorises. If they’re destined to be together in her past, and if a past River killed Eleven, how can their relationship happen at all? There has been talk of parallel timelines happening at the same time, and it wouldn’t surprise. Since the start right until last night’s episode Moffat has based his run on the theme of things happening in front of your face which you can’t see.
After the universe was rebooted it took Amy remembering the Doctor to return him to existence. River had never forgotten. She could well be the Time Lord who seems to be revealed in ep 2, but why not regenerate in the Library when she saves Ten?
What are the Silence really up to?
On the planet for centuries, manipulating humanity to what? The moon? Purely to justify the space suit which kills the Doctor in the future and kidnaps (and houses) the little girl? They’re at the Doctor’s death despite him tricking them into suggesting humanity kills them all, and constantly focus on Amy. Have they been doing that off camera in series 5 too? ‘You are Amelia Pond: you will bring the silence.’ Is that so?!
What is this all leading to?
Pond’s pregnancy, River Song’s secret, ‘silence’ falling, and whoever manipulated the Tardis to destruction, causing the cracks in space. All connected? I wonder.
I’ve seen an excellent theory suggesting…
the young girl is River – an assassin created to kill the Doctor (remember even the Daleks fear her adult self), which she seems to do. But all is not as it seems – by inviting the adult River to the deaths she’s already caused, he can successfully cover up the fact he isn’t really dead – he’s sustained by something to do with the second shot (which she remembers and makes sure Amy doesn’t interfere with), and of course she is hardly going to kill her younger self. That younger self goes on to meet the future Doctor whom she presumably marries, and who knows to share his name with her (if only so she can gain his younger self’s trust in the Library). The slap in the diner was for making her watch her ‘kill’ him again.
But even though the Silence created her (Amy is clearly her mother, but which father?), are they really working for Eye Patch Lady (Madame Kovarian apparently) or someone else? And has River concealed Time Lord abilities as long as we’ve known her? Did the pregnancy (as Rory’s rebirth as an auton) happen in the timeline aborted by the Tardis’ explosion, but not in this one (causing the fractured memories/problematic pregnancy)? Does the Doctor die in the aborted timeline? Is that where the orphanage is hidden? Another great theory is here.
In this theory characters are bouncing between the two timelines, possibly without any of them realising it. The Doctor might be dead in one reality but not the other. What he and everyone else (except perhaps River Song) doesn’t yet know is why. What’s the Silence’s Tardis? And what the hell was that regeneration?
Stephen Thompson’s first shot at the Doctor is much lighter in tone than Moffat’s opening two-parter – a great big pirate romp on a pirate ship, without very much mention of the Silence, rewriting time, mystery pregnancies, unexpected future deaths or River Song. For me personally it made it a lesser outing – showrunner Steven Moffat has raised the stakes so high now that any delay in dealing with his increasingly intricate plot strands is just annoying and it’s a little bit of a shame. Having said that the episode had its merits – the Tardis trio opt for an adventure on a pirate ship being terrorised by a Siren, who apparently kills crew members at the slightest drop of blood. But is she all she seems? And why is Amy still seeing visions (memories?) of the Eye Patch Lady from episode 2?
The humour is clumsy, Smith seems completely out of his element, but the script does have some warm moments, particularly when the Doctor bonds with pirate captain Hugh Bonneville, playing off one another as fellow ship’s captains. And director Jeremy Webb does a fair enough job, particularly in the more intense moments late on in the episode between Amy and Rory, but will the kids care? It’s a difficult one – I have a suspicion that the core audience for series 6 is a fair bit older than under Russell T Davies, and although the mystery around Amy’s pregnancy is touched upon, I don’t think enough was presented for the more sophisticated audience Moffat seems to be aiming his run at.
The story had a happy enough ending and it’s cute (if unremarkable) how they get there, but this felt distinctly like filler material. Writer Thompson has very little to say even about the Doctor himself, unlike Simon Nye in ‘Amy’s Choice’, and it leaves the episode feeling bland, despite some highly emotive exchanges.
The questions about the ongoing subplots remain though: who is Eye Patch Lady? Casting Frances Barber is serious stuff so she’s clearly someone significant. Why is Amy pregnant one second and not the next? Is it because rebooting the universe created a parallel timeline? How would this benefit the Silence? And what the hell was that regeneration at the end of the last episode? And who the hell is River Song really? Memories are being played with still, very little is as it seems (and since Amy’s introduction never has been) and I’m getting impatient for the payoffs to start. Episodes under Moffat’s management come off best with high stakes and a certain amount of darkness. I hope we get some of it next week with Neil Gaiman.
His hatred of the Tories is self-evident (and quite right). Cameron says he believes a free media is a building block of a free society? He has a funny way of showing it indeed. But Mitchell’s hatred of Labour is equally valid – for them to attack the BBC for cowardice when the Hutton witchhunt was entirely their doing is unbelievably hypocritical. The two of them together have reduced BBC News to a supine gathering of cowards and sycophants, uncritically presenting what each government has told them is fact, without any meaningful critical evaluation. I would say the biggest problem is their refusal to stand up to both parties – if they end up diminished, under-funded or wholly trampled over by Murdoch, much of it will be their own fault.
When the series was announced, the initial promotional material was couched in the trad Bash Street Kids visual language of British school-based capers: chalk, blackboards, board rubbers, pencil cases and so on. It looked like Jamie versus Grange Hill. But, presumably because the authorities wouldn’t allow the production team to meddle with the education of actual children, they’re reduced to teaching teenage volunteers who’ve already left school. So: no real kids, no real teachers, and no real exams. Nothing is real. No wonder they called it Dream School. It’s effectively a youth club with Starkey instead of a pool table.
I have to say he has a point. The kids aren’t in the system anymore, the teachers are celebrities who wouldn’t have the time to become real, full-time teachers (and who certainly would undermine all normal, full-time teachers by their mere existence if they did), and the conclusions so far are vapid and pointless. I could have told you that proper mentoring and valuing the voices of young people invariably ends up with better results than shouting at or talking down to them. Instead though we get David Starkey making the programme all about him (for a change), and Alistair Campbell teaching politics, without Jamie Oliver even remarking ironically about getting one of the biggest culprits in British history at turning young people off politics to volunteer for him.
The issues undermining the kids are serious - social deprivation, poor parenting and abuse, and suggesting somehow that bringing in ‘super teachers’ to fix them in a remedial school for kids who’ve already failed in the education system is borderline ridiculous. For every young person whose appears to ‘turn themselves around’ in the ‘Dream’ School, it simply doesn’t matter – their problems in the real world are deep and, as Brooker goes on to say, growing because of the ConDems’ assault on public services:
The first episode opened with Jamie recounting how he left school with no qualifications. The British educational system failed him, just as it fails millions of others like him every year. Now he wants to make a difference. Not by campaigning against education cuts – which might be boring – but by setting up his own school. Not one staffed by actual teachers – which might be boring – but by celebrities. And it won’t be open all-year round – which might be expensive – but for a few weeks. Thus our education system will be saved.
In short the Tories and anyone who supports their outrageously dumb policy of ‘free schools’ can just fuck off. Those who think they can boost their own celebrity off the back of both can fuck off even more.