Hope and Glory puts a contemporary spin on all this. We are in the age of school inspections, the exclusion of unruly pupils and that most tiresome cliche, "naming and shaming". Hope Park School (the irony is driven home rather too hard for comfort) is on the verge of closure. And - a touch that distinguishes it from all the other teacher dramas I've mentioned - Lenny Henry's idealistic newcomer, Ian George, is not just a rank-and- file teacher, he's a head teacher.
The notion that everything, good and bad, about a school flows from the head may well be correct, but its acceptance as dogma by the educational establishment has been comparatively recent. The death of Philip Lawrence, the head teacher who was fatally stabbed outside his school while going to the aid of a pupil, played a part. And I don't think it's a coincidence that the rise of the head and the emphasis on leadership has coincided with the rise of our most presidential Prime Minister - though which is cause and which is effect would be hard to say.
It seems a bit ironic, then, that Gannon apparently sets out to rubbish the Blairite educational agenda. Last night's episode opened with George, a celebrity head, giving a keynote speech at a teachers' union conference and taking the opportunity to rubbish the government. He wouldn't be used as a stick to beat other teachers, he said; instead, the government should just give his colleagues the resources they needed and leave them to get on with the job. And the whole thrust of the drama was to argue that it is shortsighted and cruel to staff and pupils to declare a school past helping. As George patrolled Hope Park, inspecting it with a view to recommending its closure, he kept on being touched by little signs of humanity, and offended by the offhand cruelty of the departing head teacher.
It came as no surprise, then, when at the end of this first episode George decided to take over as head of Hope Park. In fact, the moment had been so heavily signalled for the past 20 minutes that in dramatic terms it was completely ineffectual. This first part had its pleasures - notably Peter Davison cast well against type as the burned-out head, screaming "You filthy little whore" at a pupil. But it also had an irritating "Your 100 Best Tunes" classical soundtrack and a vein of manipulative, saccharine sentimentality. Gannon, go and stand in the corridor until I call you.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
- 3 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 4 Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
- 5 Largest ever study into the gay gene 'erodes the notion that sexual orientation is a choice'
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Angelina Jolie confirms retirement from acting: 'I've never been comfortable on-screen'
Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
Willow and Jaden Smith talk duality of apples, holographic realities and the melancholia of the ocean in incredible New York Times interview
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'