Review: Sheridan Smith does her best, but The Teacher is another failed drama from Channel 5

Some people don’t learn their lesson, do they? And when I say ‘some people’, I mean Channel 5, as their new drama series The Teacher (C5, Mon-Thurs, 9pm) showed.

By Phil Cunnington
Friday, 4th February 2022, 5:00 pm

Sheridan Smith starred as the teacher of the title, Jenna Garvey –the sort of teacher who encourages the pupils to call them by their first name and arrives in the staffroom stinking of fags, booze and low self-esteem.

Naturally, being a free spirit and something of an inspirational figure, she is a great teacher, close to her students – and in one particular case, rather too close.

She is soon accused of inappropriate behaviour with the pupil, a working class kid from the wrong side of the tracks called Kyle.

Sheridan Smith starred in the new Channel 5 drama The Teacher

However, because Jenna suffers from that staple of the TV drama boozehound – the alcohol-induced blackout – she can’t remember and soon suspects she has been set up.

Smith is fine in the lead, a mix of outward bravado and inner vulnerability, but what’s going on around her is nonsense, with malicious emails, poison pen letters, and a subtext involving her mother’s suicide which seems important in the first couple of episodes but goes nowhere.

To fill the time as the plot meanders along, there are lots of directorial flourishes – shots through grime-smeared windows or around corners, people staring meaningfully off into the distance and, in one case, the camera lingers on a chip in the windscreen of Jenna’s car, which leads you to think it will be somehow important, but is just filling time until the next ludicrous yet dull scene arrives.

C5 have form with this kind of thing, Intruder being the worst thing I saw in 2021, and with The Teacher, they’ve once again failed to make the grade.

Sheridan Smith with co-star Kelvin Fletcher in a scene from the Channel 5 drama The Teacher

Sketch comedy seems to be a dying art, but Lazy Susan (BBC3, Tues, 10.15pm and iPlayer) had a very high hit rate of funny sketches to duds. Intelligent with a healthy streak of silliness.

In its 15th series, you might think Would I Lie to You (BBC1, Fri, 8pm) had lost its lustre. However, the stories are still ridiculous and Lee Mack and David Mitchell so well-matched, it still entertains.