Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ted Wragg to a Bull

It's always good to mess with the minds of children in the name of reality TV, so I was particularly pleased to see the launch of 'The Unteachables' tonight on Channel 4, which began with the following mission statement from 'educational guru' Ted Wragg: "Here's the challenge: can you take people who appear on the surface to be unteachable, and turn them into good citizens?" Well, Ted probably couldn't, but fortunately he knows a man who can.

The show selected sixteen teenagers (fifteen of whom probably have ASBOs, and a couple of them children, but I'm guessing there) from three normal secondary schools, and sent them off to Suffolk, which for many people would seem like punishment enough. These kids however, were forced to endure even tougher hardships by being made to live in a barn, and make friends with Phil Beadle, the 2004 'Teacher of the Year' (which sounds like a Channel Five reality show, and probably will be within the year).

The teenagers included such well-mannered delights as 13-year-old Grace, who chatted to the camera in her 'Me. Me. Me.' t-shirt, before addressing her teacher with the words "Miss, I can't be bothered. Fuck off". In her defence, she did state that "I don't want to be bad... but I can't just sit in a lesson and just do loads of maths". Well not if it's a geography lesson, no. She does however admit that the thought of anger management classes makes her angry.

Then there was Dale, whose reputation preceded him, and who had clearly been subject to some unfair victimisation. He told us "Every time a window gets smashed, a stone or snowball gets thrown, or anything like that, they bring me into the office straightaway and just assume it's me". He was then asked "And has it usually been you?", a question to which he gave careful consideration, before replying "Yeah".

KirstyAmongst the others were little darlings such as Zaak, a bright boy who's clearly benefitted from his parents' flair for spelling, and Kirsty, whose acne has to be seen to be believed. I'm not saying Kirsty's a well-built girl, but she wouldn't look out of place squaring up to a matador.

Upon arrival at the remote East Anglian farmstead, the group gave their considered opinion on their new home, one declaring "this is quite good", another going with a simple "oh fuck". But they were soon making themselves at home breaking windows, spraying the barn with lighter fuel, and staying up most of the night.

The next morning, superteacher Phil set them on an intensive course of "dickhead pointing", vertebrae stretching, and orange squeezing, before taking them on a run through a field miming punctuation as they went.

Oddly enough, it seemed to work. Kirsty, who'd previously been content to wander off like the Blue Peter elephant, declared the experience to be "well good", before adding that Phil's teaching methods were also... um... "well good". Well ok, so it hasn't improved her vocabulary, but at least it got her out of McDonalds for a couple of days.