Waterloo Road review – a lesson in how not to revive a TV show
The BBC has brought back the high-school drama after it became a Covid hit, but its attempts to crowbar heavy social issues into a soapy setting are jarring
Waterloo Road (BBC One) was always a show that felt more important for the boxes it ticked and the services it provided than for the quality of its drama. First shown in 2006, the chaotic secondary-school saga was a breeding ground for new talent – Jodie Comer, Jenna Coleman and Phoebe Dynevor had early roles in it – and one of those continuing dramas that provide work for likable light comedy/drama actors who aren’t cut out for A-list stardom while producing hundreds of episodes to fill schedule space.
Such shows, especially BBC ones, are vulnerable to the whims and politics of broadcasters and to being given the burden of reflecting the issues of the day. Waterloo Road suffered from both malaises. When it was axed in 2015, it felt natural. So, why is it back?