Teachers TV? It's just before porn

14th September 2007 at 01:00
The wisdom of Henry Walpole

flicking through the channels on digital TV can be dispiriting. When the red numbers on the box click past 300, you enter the twilight zone. Somewhere past deranged shopping channels full of people trying to persuade you that a limited print of a unicorn in a woodland glade is a sound art investment and just before the "adult" channels is Teachers TV.

Until now, I have avoided the temptation. In an attempt at "pre-season training", I finally cracked and spent some of my last holiday week watching it. The programming is a lot like in-service training and just as stimulating. At least I didn't have the attendant thoughts that haunt my inset days, for example, how much the trainer has been paid. A lot of Teachers TV is made on a shoestring.

Often the titles are better than the actual programmes. The last week has featured such gems as Ease the Load I'm Tired of 12-Hour Days (but presumably not the six-week holidays) and Stars out of School the Musical Director and the Tortoise Conservationist. I'm afraid I missed the second one so I am unable to report whether this was a wife-swap style affair with a music teacher attempting to train 40 tortoises to sing Mozart's Requiem.

My favourite title was the frankly insane KS3 Geography Making Geography Popular. Why not start with something simpler, like solving the Palestine problem? One episode seemed to consist of an earnest woman listening to a young man's experiences of Pakistan while he strummed tunelessly on a guitar. It was rather like first year at university, without the passing of the spliff drenched in the spittle of five other people.

Clearly the BBC doesn't need to be too worried yet. When my wife came into the room I actually skipped to the porn channels because it was less embarrassing. However, I proffer some suggestions which might be ratings winners.

Ready, Steady, Teach: each week visiting teachers bring a bag of surprise resources and challenge the chefs to teach a lesson. "Ainsley, you've got a crocodile puppet, a box of elastic bands and a condom. Teach a Year 4 class how to use semicolons in 20 minutes."

Big Brother: a group of secondary teachers select the most annoying attention seeking pupils and lock them up in the Big Brother house. We turn the key and leave them there until they are 16.

Tribe: Bruce Parry visits the little-known tribe of Richmond Prep School Mums. He learns about their superstitious fear of non-organic cotton. Once accepted by them, he is trained in the ancient art of parking a 4x4 so as to bring all West London's traffic to a standstill.

Until my suggestions are taken up, I'll sit on the sofa and wait for the inevitable channel expansion. I'm holding out for Dinner Lady TV, with live discussion of this season's hairnet and tabard styles.

More from Henry in a fortnight

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