On Watching Educating Yorkshire
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I probably wasn’t the only one with reservations before watching Educating Yorkshire, the fly on the wall doc (when did documentaries such as this start being dubbed ‘reality TV’?) that showed eight weeks in the life of a West Yorkshire comprehensive school. After the TV advert, which featured one student declaring that letters and numbers are “the same thing” and year ten pupil Bailey debuting her drawn on eyebrows, I had a very strong feeling that the pupils of Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury were going to be sold up the river in a quest for high ratings. Despite the likelihood that Thornhill’s teachers would have their pupils’ best interests at heart we have, after all, become increasingly used to laughing at people on television over the last few years, especially when the guise of ‘reality TV’ is being thrown around. Thornhill Community Academy is only eight miles from my (possibly very similar) secondary school, and (without having watched its predecessor Educating Essex) the thought that these kids might be exploited as ratings fodder was irking on a personal level. Add to this the views of Thornhill such as that from Mail Online, which featured a charmingly catch-all headline that included the words “A school full of unruly pupils with no future in a recession-hit town”, and the expectation that the view presented would be largely one-sided is understandable. So Educating Yorkshire premiered last night, against this backdrop, and pulled in 3.3million viewers – double the usual amount for a Thursday night 9pm slot.
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