Most of us were probably at school not too long ago and it’s hard to imagine why any of us would want to watch a fly on the wall documentary about those days. Moments into ‘Educating Yorkshire’ though, and I can guarantee you’ll be hooked. The show, filmed at Thornhill Academy, a Dewsbury comprehensive, for me captures the experience of what it was like to be at a Northern school perfectly.
The opening preview of the show depicts the mischief and laughs that have continued throughout the series and resulted in making hilarious television. The lovable characters too are the main genius behind the show as the children featured are characters that you couldn’t make up, even if you wanted to. As we’ve seen with hit show Outnumbered, letting kids decide on their own lines can only lead to better television. The show is sprinkled with great one liners that you can’t help but laugh at, such as “Did you stamp on his head?”, “I don’t know, I might have done…”. The teachers are evidently stressed, but brilliantly down to earth, and Mr Mitchell, the school head, is the hero of the whole tale. Bald-headed, extremely Northern, occasionally caught swearing and often seen dancing, Mr Mitchell is the authoritative but loving figure every school needs.
One episode, which featured bullied student Jack Henry and gobby, bleached-blonde trouble maker Georgia was particularly interesting in exposing the most frustrating, brutal, but also heart warming moments of school life. It made fascinating television by taking viewers on a rollercoaster of emotions. People at home would have been shouting at the television when Georgia’s friends seemed to hero-worship her terrible behaviour and when Jack Henry got expelled for lashing out at a bully. Soon after though they would be cheering when his friends band together to resist this, depicting the heart-warming power of friendship in a way that fictional dramas often can’t.
As my house sit around on a Thursday evening to watch together, it takes us back to our own school years and for a while it’s nice to reminisce on a world where an essay constituted of two written sides of A4 and perhaps this makes ‘Educating Yorkshire’ a more enjoyable to us as students than it may be to the rest of the world.
While current show ‘Harrow: A Very British School’ documents the minority of children’s schooling, the joy of ‘Educating Yorkshire’ is a brilliant testament to the too-often criticised comprehensive.
The series finale of Educating Yorkshire is this Thursday, 9pm, C4 or the whole series is available now on 4OD.
Photo: Property of Channel 4