TV review: Educating Yorkshire, Channel 4

Mum and Dad Are Splitting Up, BBC2

"He's 70 and I'm 71. I've got angina, right? We don't need this," complained a local resident to newly appointed headmaster Mr Mitchell, whose pupils have just pelted her with snowballs. Even though this is Mr Mitchell's first headmaster job, he remained unfazed, as this is just one of many misdemeanours he has to deal with in a day. Other crimes were less tangible – "I hadn't heard of it," said a shocked head of Year Eight, Mrs Stevens, on her office phone, "but apparently it's a massive thing, they call it… sexting."

This first episode of this new series, Educating Yorkshire, which follows on from Channel 4's successful Educating Essex, focused on a handful of affable characters at the Thornhill Community Academy in West Yorkshire. There was Mr Mitchell, a hard but fair disciplinarian with a sense of humour, Bailey, a quick-tempered, overly made-up Year Nine rebel, with aspirations to become a prefect, and Year Eight boy Ryan, who resembles a mini Boris Johnson, but with better hair, who wants to become an actor, or a policeman, or a fireman, but for whom his teachers foresee a career in politics. He was already sweet-talking the voting public, sidling up to his teacher at the end of class, bowing and stating: "Miss, it's an honour to be taught by you." Then there was Cameron, who is troubled and gets into trouble, but the teachers have a soft spot for him.

As with all other school documentaries, our assumptions were challenged as we got to know the students – Bailey's love of thick orange foundation is intended to cover up facial scars, not for an on-screen audition for a bit-part in TOWIE. Mr Mitchell brought in some unorthodox punishments, such as "isolation", where children are made to work alone. It's less severe than the prison version, solitary confinement, but Bailey still described it as: "Death: two boards, a wall and work."

Through it all, Mr Mitchell kept his sense of humour. We saw him arduously collecting testimonies, like a detective, over an alleged racial slur, finally concluding the evidence was insufficient, "I'm not Poirot," he told the accuser, before explaining how he'd just have to punish everyone equally. His charm worked and he slowly won over even the naughtiest of students, who admit he is tough but fair. Surely, though, we have seen these characters before. Before Educating Essex, Channel 4's Jamie's Dream School took a similar tack with its radical treatment of struggling pupils. But although this was not ground-breaking, it was occasionally funny – and heart-warming.

A documentary that seemed even less innovative was Mum and Dad Are Splitting Up. Arbitrarily hooked on to the long-known statistic that one third of children now live with just one parent, it told the story of five families who have broken up. It would have been far more interesting to have a longitudinal study of the children, seeing if they would repeat the mistakes of the parents, but that would take time and money, so, instead, we had this. One message is clear: even though divorce is common, it doesn't make it any less hard to deal with. Particularly poignant was Darryl, a strapping 20-year-old whose parents separated nine years ago and who was convinced they will get back together. He justified the gap in their union, saying: "After spending a bit of time apart, maybe it would… start again."

Then there was Tasha, 16, whose father walked out on her and her mum when she was 10. She never sees him. Dressed all in pink in a bedroom covered in posters, she openly discussed her trust issues, which are the clear result of her DJ dad's departure. Cut to her dad, who was no longer the wild-haired stud her mum fell for but a lonely man in a sparse flat, the only sign of personality being his guitar, just in the frame. "Having kids has been a life experiment for me," he said, remorseless. Some people shouldn't be allowed to have children.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice