21 January 2015

TV: Excluded i

You might notice that we don't tend to cover many documentary or reality series on the site. 2015 is the year that all changes, and I've resolved to review every piece of television (news and soaps aside) I watch. Excluded: Kicked out of School is BBC Three's new three-part series covering the Bridge AP Academy in Fulham.

The Academy is designed to help students who have been permanently excluded from other secondary schools achieve their maximum potential, with the use of specialist staff and methods. All kinds of circumstances have brought these teenagers together, but the Bridge is willing to forgive any past misdemeanours. You may think this is just another vehicle to showcase some of the country's top teachers (see also: Educating Yorkshire) but this really is a different kind of programme.

The most notable thing about these initial sixty minutes is the tone of the presentation. It always places the students at the heart of it, and really gives them the chance to explain their points of view, rather than dismissing them as unruly outsiders. Among the most engaging segments were those of Jess, who the viewer grew fonder and fonder of throughout this opening episode.

The most affecting elements though, that made me want to jump to the keyboard immediately, were those of thirteen-year-old Millie. Having gone through some quite tragic circumstances, she had fallen from an academically gifted student to a girl dismissed simply as a nuisance. This viewer really felt for Millie and her story across the episode had me welling up, something which TV and film do very rarely indeed. Perhaps it's the little background we share, but whatever the reason, I think the structuring of her story highlighted the talent of the creative team behind this.

Despite my earlier comments, a number of gifted staff are shown off very well here. Coming across as particularly wise was Steve, but every member of staff was clearly an intelligent professional. I'm so glad I stumbled across this series on the iPlayer front page, and will definitely be tuning in to the next two episodes. While understandable, there is a certain irony in the fact that iPlayer states you must be sixteen or older to watch this show about eleven to sixteen-year-olds. 

I do hope BBC Three still manages to commission and produce content of this calibre once it moves online.

In a Nutshell: An engaging, often moving, opening episode.

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