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Teachers on TV: it's a laugh a minute

Carol Adams gives her views on the new TV teacher drama to Karen Thornton Offensive, grating, trivialising - or just popular culture's perception of teaching?

Teachers, the new series which started this week on Channel 4, might garner all these responses from the real-life classroom professionals watching it, according to Carol Adams, chief executive of the General Teaching Council, who became The TES's armchair reviewer for the night.

Following the first instalment, she notes that its makers have been keen to insist that it is not a programme about the education system, but a "contemporary, lighthearted series" about young people on the cusp of adulthood.

"'The cusp', as defined by Teachers, turns out to be your late twenties, which may surprise many of our 20-something colleagues who already shoulder high levels of responsibility," says Ms Adams.

Teachers in this age group are more likely to relate to the professional Jenny - "unfortunately portrayed as humourless" - than the gang of young teachers who ock her, she says.

The series's star is immature Simon (Andrew Lincoln, best known as Egg in This Life), who spends his time cycling at breakneck speed between school, home and his policewoman girlfriend, marking homework up the pub and making sexist remarks about colleagues. He and his colleagues, break into their own school to leave an unfortunate sheep in the dour Jenny's classroom.

But in so far as Teachers flirts with serious issues - such as Simon's attempts to take a Dead Poets' Society approach to teaching Romeo and Juliet - the show does bring teaching into focus, says Ms Adams. But she adds: "Teaching, just like the law and medicine, has become a backdrop against which to explore issues about life which extend beyond the specific professional context.

"I suspect the reality is that most teachers simply won't have time to watch it; they'll be too busy marking and preparing lessons - but not over a pint down the pub."

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