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Series: Waterloo Road
Drama (2006-Present) set in a dodgy version of The Good Old British Comp.

The new headmaster of Waterloo Road, a failing comprehensive in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, has to turn the school around when it faces closure. Or at least that's how things were in the first season. The show quickly developed a large revolving cast and uses the school setting to explore many different storylines and characters. The end of seasons seven saw the show move filming location and setting to Scotland where it remains based. Currently midway through its ninth season, the show has already been renewed for a tenth.

It should be noted that we only actually see a few of the teaching staff and everything seems to happen to them. And a disproportionate number teach English. This extends to the students as well. While the show makes use of single episode characters to explore some more involved storylines, primarily the core student cast will be involved in just about everything. It's not specified what size Waterloo Road is (it's filmed in an old primary school, considerably smaller than most high secondary schools in the UK) but there are probably many more we haven't seen. Of course this can all be brushed off as part of the nature of setting a television show in a school.

Of particular note is that revolving cast which easily stretches to well over seventy principal cast members over the course of eight seasons. The show can be reasonably divided based on headteacher, of which there have been four so far (with a fifth soon to step up). The tone especially changes with each headteacher. Initially, the headteacher was a world-weary cynic with a more idealistic deputy but the more cynical perspective tends to be sidelined, and occasionally vilified, as the show evolves.

Things have been a little bit crazy here. So far- see the recap.


This show contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Well, naturally.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Or rather just Maxine wanting Earl. Which results in the former's death.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Possibly the reason why none of the girls complained when it was created.
  • An Aesop: Frequently used, in all formats of the trope.
  • Apathetic Teacher: Mr Budgen.
  • Axes at School: Several times, notably in the series 4 opener.
  • Badass Teacher:
    • Mr Rimmer.
    • Standing up to the woman he loves and putting himself between a thug with a knife and a student, all in one day? Who expected that from Chalky?
    • Tom Clarkson, stood up to Earl Kelly amongst others
  • Berserk Button:
    • Lindsay is quick to offer a death threat to anyone who hurts her sister. She means it.
    • And increasingly, Mr Mead tends to lose it whenever one of his students are endangered or harmed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The second season finale, everything seems to be going right for the school and then a teacher gets stabbed to death right before the closing credits. It was left open as to whether she was actually dead until the start of the next season, probably because the actress was involved in contract negotiations.
  • British Brevity: While Series 1 stands at eight hours, and Series 2 at twelve, the trope is averted for all seasons from Series 3 onwards.
    • Series 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 get 20 episodes a piece, including a 90-minute opener in Series 4
    • Series 7 and 8 avert the trope to an extreme, with 30 hours per season. (The former premièred just 4 weeks after Series 6's finale)
  • Broken Bird: Lindsay James in particular. The girl just doesn't catch a break... Further deconstructed in that her hidden issues make her more short-tempered and aggressive towards others, rather than just being a shut-in.
  • Book Ends: The first episode introduces Tom Clarkson going up the school roof to help someone in need. The finale of Series 8 shows Tom going up to the school roof to help someone in need, but this time, events take a more tragic turn.
  • But Not Too Gay: Josh and Nate's romance in Spring Term of Series 6 was consistently less explicit than every other couple on the show.
    • In 6.13, when Nate is staying over at Josh's place, what would be their first (on-screen) kiss is interrupted by the doorbell.
    • Toward the end of the series, at a party, Josh and Nate dance together, but while their straight classmates are getting hot and heavy, the boys dance with excessive space between them. A couple of background moments show them giving each other a comforting hand on the back.
    • By the time Nate leaves the show, they still have not kissed even once.
      • This despite 6.04 showing Josh making a pass at Finn, kissing him squarely on the lips against Finn's will
    • Possibly due to viewer backlash, this trope is averted in 7.23, when Josh's drug dealer is shown openly flirting with him, and kisses him outside the school gates.
  • Coming-Out Story: Josh.
    • Nate to his father, to a lesser extent
  • Corrupt Church: Gerry Preston.
  • Crapsack World: One reviewer described it, not entirely inaccurately, as being set in a town that resembles a cross between Dante's Inferno and Baghdad.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • In Series 5 we find out that Lindsay James was sexually abused by her father leading to her eventually murdering him.
    • Rachel Mason was revealed to have worked as a prostitute before becoming a teacher.
    • Bex appears to have had one, from the time she was missing.
  • Dawson Casting: Considering UK laws on child filming and the fact that the pupils are a major part of the show, it's pretty much a given.
    • A possible Lampshade Hanging in the third season when a teacher successfully passes herself off as a student for a football match.
    • Taken to the extreme with the casting of 28 year old Roxanne Pallett as a 17 year old. [1]
  • Diabolus ex Machina: At the end of series seven, in one of the most bizarre Mood Whiplashes ever.
  • Driven to Suicide: Lorna Dickey.
  • Does Not Like Men: Lindsay has a few moments like this, due to her abusive father.
  • Dysfunction Junction
  • Economy Cast
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: A female teacher gets hair extensions... and then kills herself.
  • Fake Nationality: Francesca Montoya is played by an Indian actress of British extraction, born in India.
  • Fanservice:
    • Elizabeth Berrington aka Ruby Fry, and an uncredited teacher played by a blonde extra.
    • And more recently pop star Karen David as Francesca Montoya.
  • Freak Out: the very first episode starts with the old headmaster, Mr. Vaisey, being driven to a nervous breakdown by the appalling state of the school.
  • The Good Old British Comp
  • Heroic BSOD: Nearly always Grantly Budgen, or Tom Clarkson.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Several, namely:
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Rachel Mason, sort of.
  • Idiosyncratic Block Naming: Although not used explicitly by The BBC or in promotional materials, the DVDs assign names to each series' 10-episode blocks, starting with Series 3. The first block of 10 episodes in a series is titled "Autumn Term", and the second block is titled "Spring Term". For Series 7 and 8, with 30 episodes, the final 10 episodes were given the title "Summer Term".
    • This system is by analogy with the British academic year, with the Series individually representing school years.
  • I Object: Donte and Chlo's first wedding.
  • Katy Perry: Her music is sometimes used as background music.
  • KidAnova: Aiden, who manages to get two girls pregnant during series 7.
  • Jerkass:
    • Ralph Mellor.
    • Lewis Seddon (though he eventually reforms).
    • Max Tyler
    • Earl Kelly
    • Barry Barry (who may in fact be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, given how much he cares for his family, but his actions make this hard to credit at times).
  • Large Ham: "Amy is NOT BANKSY!"
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Chloe's hair-style goes up when she separates from Donte for a while.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Rose Kelly, post-straightening herself out.
    • Rachel Mason towards her students.
    • Carol Barry
  • Mood Whiplash
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Averted by filming and setting it in a real town, though they goofed once or twice in the first season.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever Danielle keeps going on about with her friends that involves "a bottle of Diet Coke, some chips and a night out in Rochdale town centre". Also, Karla's background and her Asperger's Syndrome.
  • Oop North: A reasonably authentic portrayal, less the more over-the-top plotlines.
  • Parental Abandonment: Kevin's father left him and his mother when he was 5. His mother and step-father then left him homeless at the age of 10, thus sending Kevin in and out of numerous foster homes before arriving at Waterloo Road.
  • Psychologist Teacher:
  • Put on a Bus: Mika, who is stated on the official website to have gone to university.
  • Real-Life Relative: Steph and Dave the security guard are played by actors who are married to each other in real life.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: a particularly ludicrous case. The BBC decided it needed to make more of its programmes in Scotland, including Waterloo Road. So at the end of series 7 the local authority closes the school. Meanwhile a rich philanthropist and former pupil of headmaster Mr. Byrne has decided to set up a private but non-fee-paying school for local children in a deprived area near Glasgow...so Mr. Byrne decides to move there, along with most of the named teachers and even some of the pupils (the new school will have a boarding house). All this is about as realistic as an episode of Doctor Who.
    • Similarly, the Diabolus ex Machina at the end of that series happened because the writers didn't yet know which of the cast would be moving to Scotland.
      • Actually, there are some non-fee paying schools which have boarding houses. Just not many of them.
  • Reality Subtext: A few times.
  • Rich Bitch: Lorraine Donegan (Series 8) and Gabriella Wark (Series 9).
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Too many times to count.
  • Rule of Funny: Used too many times to count.
  • School Play: The aforementioned musical, which of course contains Suspiciously Apropos Music.
  • Sexy Schoolwoman: As yet averted. It looks wrong for the time slot (8pm) and the people who wear school uniforms are school-age characters, who don't do that sort of thing.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Philip goes from sending Flick cheesy cards to leaving a set of his aunt's underwear in her school bag.
  • Stern Teacher: Mr Treneman. On his first day, when he sees a pupil take another boy's bus pass in the queue for the school bus, he calls the police. He then introduces the "cooler" for those who misbehave.
  • Stock Punishment: Mr. Budgen gets sponges thrown at him for a fair to raise money for Rwanda aid projects.
  • Strawman Political: Mika as tree-hugger. Seriously, that woman needs some help.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Somewhat subverted. Miss Koreshi got verbal, but never physical.
  • Viral Marketing: Inverted. The semi-regular appearance of WRTL 2600 and Delta streetlights in outside broadcasts makes it look that way, anyway. No, the streetlighting firm WRTL does not have any involvement with the show, despite popular belief.

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alternative title(s): Waterloo Road
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