The final episode of Ackley Bridge served as a liminal zone, a place of resolution for a number of the issues explored so far as well as a threshold for further possibilities to be developed in the next series. There is going to be one.
The extent to which school dramas represent school life, while not necessarily being representative of school life is discussed elsewhere (See my posts about Waterloo Road).
The banner unveiled at the start of the episode displaying Collage might have been an indicator of what was to come. The episode was, indeed a collage of loose ends from the series. Indeed, when Mr Bell asks “how much damage can he [Jordan] do in the canteen with a couple of paintings?” we know we are being invited to begin to quantify the likely damage left at the end of the episode.
Firstly, there is Jordan. Reeling from the news that he is not the father of Candice’s baby he descends into his course of damage causing when he discovers that his brother Cory is the father. Cory, is tall, handsome and articulate. He is everything that Jordan is not, and all the girls like him. However, Candice reveals he has some questionable sexual politics:
“We only did it the once…and he didn’t even talk to me after. You were really nice.”
Jordan fails to hear the important point on the end of Candice’s protestation and instead chooses to cause ‘a scene’ in the canteen, as pupils in school dramas do.
Elsewhere, Missy is showing prospective parents and pupils around the school. Dropping into a science lesson she relays that “hands on experimentation with students is encouraged”. A thinly veiled reference to the more than problematic behaviour of Miss Sharriff, the science teacher, towards one of her pupils, Nasreen. Missy accompanies this phrase along with some suggestive hand gestures. There should have been a warning to viewers to cover eyes and ears.
The deserved embarrassment of Miss Shariff, whose behaviour warrants, at the very least, a teacher misconduct hearing, is interrupted only by a chemical reaction overflowing in phallic form. From there, we move seamlessly on to the next humorous scene which is introduced by a cringe worthy performance from the school’s Brass ensemble (revealing the hitherto unknown absence of a Brass Band culture in West Yorkshire?). Setting the stage for a car crash recruitment presentation to an audience that seemed, strangely, to consist largely of staff and students, Alya Nawaz, the daughter of the sponsor Sadiq Nawaz announces:
“My Dad’s screwing the headmistress, that’s the only bit of integration that’s going on here”
Gasp. And, then we see the reaction of the assembled crowd, and we realise why there had to be staff there. They need to pass round the gossip. This they do.
Shifting to a corridor scene we witness the utterly disgraceful attempt by Miss Sharriff to claim the status of victim as she admonishes Nasreen, the 17-year-old VIth former she has had a sexual relationship with:
“Yesterday,in class anyone could have found out the way you two were carrying on”
Before recognising, in an all too late moment of self-awareness that she “should never have gone near” Nasreen. Bold and incredulously, she asserts that she is
“here to be trusted”
Seventeen year Nasreen stands her ground, failing to recognise the enormity of what has happened between them:
“I’m not gonna say anything and I’m not gonna tell anyone”
So, that’s alright then?
To be fair, maybe this storyline is in a transition zone and will be developed in series 2. Who knows?
Meanwhile, back to Jordan. Thinking he can only impress a girl as ‘sophisticated’ as Chloe by driving a stolen car at high-speed, rather than just being himself (i.e dozy, lovely and thus ultimately more decent than his brother) faces existential angst whilst looking out across the wilderness that is, presumably, Calderdale.
Throughout the episode we revisit the sexual tension between Miss Keane and Mr. Qureshi which has been brewing from the very beginning of the series. It is a case of will they/won’t they before we are put out of our misery by Miss Keane deciding to be an adult and choosing to focus her attention on her daughter, Chloe, who we now know isn’t as sassy as she makes out.
Then, in an effort to save himself, Sadiq Nawez shafts Miss Carter, this time verbally, in front of the governors. Drawing on familiar misogynistic tropes to make her behaviour seem worse than his he stakes his claim to remain as the school sponsor. Miss Carter returns from a brief impromptu trip to the family court, where she has demonstrated to viewers that she really does have the best interests of the pupils at heart. Symbolically, her character too is resolved, reunited with her husband, Mr. Bell. As she strides through the school doors the battle to keep her job begins. But, we are in a zone of possibilities. We will not know who has ‘won’ until the start of the next series. This is a message to us to not to forget to come back for series 2.
In summary, the final episode suggested everything can be resolved by having a chat. It is Yorkshire, after all. Nevertheless, this was unrealistic, there was not a pot or mug of tea in sight and everyone knows liminal spaces need tea, Yorkshire tea.