Class, Series One. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7.5/10

Cast: Katherine Kelly, Greg Austin, Sophie Hopkins, Fady Elsayed, Vivian Oparah, Jordan Renzo, Pooky Quesnal, Aaron Neil, Paul Marc Davies, Shannon Murray, Ben Peel, Anna Shaffer, Con O’Neil, Nigel Betts, Peter Capaldi.

In a television programme that has spanned over 50 years, to not expect the occasional spin off would be folly, both commercially and in the interests of expanding that institution’s universe. Doctor Who, certainly since it re-emerged on the nation’s screens back in 2005, has been ripe for spin offs and the magic was kept alive by the sentiment surrounding the much loved Elizabeth Sladen as one of the most adored companions of the classic series and it was only right that she finally had her own series in the Sarah Jane Adventures.

Whilst this spin off series was mostly aimed at the young teenage market and for all the Whovians who cannot get enough of any world that the Doctor may pass through, Class is a different matter; yes it is stylish, enjoyable in many places and centred around arguably the most important school or place in the history of Doctor Who, but for all of that, at times the story line feels forced, the character development rushed and whilst Katherine Kelly is undoubtedly a star turn in the series, the other actors around her unfortunately need more time perhaps to bed in to become likeable or even to care about.

The exception to this is Sophie Hopkins character April to whom many of the stories invariably turn as she was attacked by the Shadow Kin’s Corakinus in the opening episode. Her back story makes her the most interesting of all the sixth former’s to feature and with the great Con O’Neill playing her father, and one who tried to take hers and her mother’s life when she was a child, this family unit is as interesting as any fan of the series could ask it to be. Sophie Hopkins performs well and brings the rest of the cast up to hers and Katherine Kelly’s high standards.

It is always welcome to have a spin-off of a highly decorated series but it does ask the question of why the B.B.C. and Big Finish, who make the outstanding audio series, haven’t got together to produce some of the other possible stories, including the exceptional I, Davros or U.N.I.T. series.

In a Class of its own, it will surely return for a second series, one that might explore more deeply the relationship between Coal Hill School and The Doctor’s universe.

Ian D. Hall