TV Review: The Teacher

The televisual equivalent of a trashy airport novel, Channel 5’s drama The Teacher is silly but watchable fun, helmed by Sheridan Smith

“What am I supposed to do? Go to All Bar One?”

Written by Mike Benson, Barunka O’Shaughnessy and Jon Gilbert, the Sheridan Smith-starring The Teacher was a rather entertaining piece of nonsense that definitely appealed to the trashier part of my nature. A four-part drama centred on Jenna Garvey, a secondary school teacher accused of having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old pupil, it was ridiculous and farcical and fun.

Which may well have not been the original intention but let’s face it, the level of improbability of this type of twisty would-be psychodrama is what makes them so diverting. Whether in its interpretation of school life, legal processes or general interactions with people, The Teacher’s ridonkulous contrivances and dangling plotlines did the job for me. 

So Garvey is a teacher who is professionally sorted – highly beloved by her students and in line for the Head of English post – but personally a shambles, going out drinking and clubbing most nights whilst somehow barely impacts on her work life… But when a particularly boozy night ends with her being charged with shagging one of her pupils, the shambles comes to the fore, not least when she decides to plead guilty despite not remembering what happened because she doesn’t want the young Kyle to have to give evidence.

From then on, she tries to put back together the pieces of her life but the nagging suspicion that she might not be a sex offender after all leads her on a journey to investigate whether the evidence was fabricated. Smith is good value for money, tapping into the vulnerability that makes her so engaging a performer, and the likes of Cecilia Noble, Sharon Rooney and Kelvin Fletcher support her well. Samuel Bottomley’s Kyle is less well served by the script though, which is ultimately less interested in him as a character than as a device to put sexual consent in the programme description. One to not take all that seriously at all. 

Photos: GALGÓCZI NÉMETH KRISTÓF / CHALKBOARD TVCHANNEL 5

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