“ ITV / British Musical - Drama „
It seems the musical ear is back on our television screens, first the American hit 'High School Musical' (HSM), now this, and a remake of the 1980 flick 'Fame' is soon to hit our screens.
For me, this went that little bit further, yes 'High School Musical' is a hip and fun series of films, but this is a little bit more mature, and not so flamboyant. The cast seem to know their roles, have indeed been well casted, and matched with an explosive story it's a perfect combination for what was a Sunday night in front of the box. We see more of the musical side to this English TV series, rather than a few dance numbers misplaced in a teen comedy romance ('HSM').
The series follows a group of six budding musical students, just waiting for that all important break into the danceworld. Along the road, there will be love affairs, friendships made and broken, but in the end, everything works out just how you wanted. It's a real feel good series that will make you get up and move! But will they get that all important break? They definitely come very close; which I guess leaves it open to further series...
What makes this stand out is the memorable songs, most of which were created by music legend Gary Barlow. Can you even remember the words to the hits of HSM? Well I can't, it seems many of them were one hit wonders, unlike some of the tunes to come from this television series. This brilliance, most probably stems from an excellent line of producers who took their time in choosing the right guy for the job, and they certainly got it right.
Of course Arlene Phillips is in part a reason why this series is so great. Her years of dance experience, comes across in the casts excellent dance numbers. It's clear someone made them work for their money, as they all are done to perfection.
This series is perfect for all the family, so why not buy the whole series for under £20!
This review may be highly unfair of me to write, as it's based on watching two episodes that were forced on me by my girlfriend. Maybe the episodes I didn't see were groundbreaking television, and I caught it on off-weeks, so if that's the case I wholeheartedly apologise.
The premise of the series is based around a school for preening tossers, or stage school as I believe it is known. Here several unfathomably attractive young things pirhouette around, taught by the bloke who plays the rubbish bank manager on the Nationwide adverts. His less than lovely visage makes him look like a warthog stumbling into a flamingo convention.
The plot of the first one I saw centred around a gurning peacock who was called Brad or Buddy or Johnny or something, who was the class dreamboat and irresistible to the girls in the school. The fact I was used to the actor playing uber-gay Maxxie in Skins detracted from the realism here. It transpired that he was secretly illiterate, couldn't read a single word, and on discovery (due a contrived Q&A session with two members of Girls Aloud) he launched into a weird song and dance dream sequence, in which he sang earnestly about his dyslexia while dancing letters pranced around behind him. I had to check no-one had put anything in my tea.
In fact that's the weird thing about Britannia High - it's obviously influenced by happy smiley American smugfest High School Musical, but bizarrely juxtaposes gritty storylines with silly dance routines.
The second episode I saw was based around the token black lad of the crew, who, as every patronising cliche would have it, was from the streets and had a brother who didn't respect his prancey lifestyle and was into guns and shooting and gangs 'n' all that. In the episode we had to endure the characters wrestling between wanting acceptance from his low-life brother's gang and from the gang of pirhouetting dandies he went to school with. Rock and a hard place, eh?
Eventually the brother was shot dead off screen, leading to about four minutes of soul-searching, a bit of a song and dance routine, and then everything was OK again. Huzzah!
Like I say, maybe I caught the bad episodes, and the rest is the kind of ground-breaking TV that will define television drama for decades to come. I seriously doubt it though!
It's been dubbed "The English High School Musical" but it's nothing in comparison. The series focuses on the lives of a group of teenagers and their mentors at a fictional London theatre school - Britannia High was based on an idea by Strictly Come Dancing choreography judge Arlene Phillips and David Ian who are both executive producers for the show and It was produced by ITV Productions in Manchester. Airing on ITV from October 2008 - December 2008. The series consists of 9 one hour long episodes, each focusing on a specific character.
The programme shys away from being just a programme involving song and dance, it's first and foremost a drama -- just with music added to it!
- Lola Jonze (Rana Roy) - Considered the best dancer of the group and arguably the school, Lola's naïve and ditzy She has a relationship with teacher Stefan, and leaves Britannia High at the end of the series to be with him.
- Lauren Waters (Georgina Hagen) - Lauren is plucked from obscurity when the headteacher of Britannia High spots her performing in an abba tribute act - she's a fish out of water and struggles to hit high notes, which Claudine seizes advantage of. She dates Danny until the end of episode 6.
- Claudine Cameron (Sapphire Elia) - Claudine will do anything to make it; including sabotaging other people. She is determined to make it big and to be famous, and is the typical baddie of the series 'I want to see my name up there with the greats - Madonna, Celine, Mariah, Claudine'. Claudine begins dating Danny at the end of episode 6 but their relationship ends during the finale.
- Danny Miller (Mitch Hewer) - the "heartthrob" - His central episode showed him dealing with dyslexia. He starts the year as Lauren's boyfriend, but they break up in episode 6 when he starts dating Claudine. In episode 8 he admits he has feelings for both girls, and they force him to choose. He cannot make up his mind, so both girls dump him, but still consider him as a friend.
- Jez Tyler (Matthew James Thomas) - Jez comes from a very rich background, and eventually admits to his father that he attends Britannia High rather than a business school as his father had thought. In episode 3, Jez's father remarks that his son is gay, which Jez himself confirms in episode 8 (after being kissed by Ronnie).
- BB Simons (Marcquelle Ward) - BB is the most grounded and mature of all the students. His parents passed away when he was 8 years old. He has a brother, Julius, who died during the episode Go Your Own Way.
Although the ratings dipped by more than half throughout the series run that in no means shows a deterioration in the show - However, There are currently no plans for a second series of Britannia High.
The Soundtrack was released and for me, the stand out tracks have to be:
- "Start Of Something" - The anthem to the series, a dance song thats catchy and makes you want to sing along.
- "Growing Pains" - Danny and Claudine's duet - my favourite song. Its a catchy ballad sung after Claudine opens up to Danny.
- "Wake Up" - perfomed by Jez - the song that plays over the credit - again a catchy dance song.
Britannia High is a teen musical drama co-produced by ITV and Globe productions. It is based on an original idea by Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips and theatre producer David Ian. The show follows 6 teenage drama/dance students and their teachers at their drama school. It has been created following the popularity that High School Musical has created. This is aired on ITV1 on Sunday at 7pm for an hour, including breaks and has been running from October through to December. The show is a series consisting of 9 episodes, the last of which is a combination of live and recorded scenes. There have been a variety of celebrity appearances from Boyzone, Girls Aloud and Matt Willis. Each episode of the show is character centric. Britannia High is produced by Brian Grant and Steven McGreal and sponsored by playtq. I wanted to watch the programme as soon as I realised that Gary Barlow was the director of music. And to be fair, he didn't let me down.
Lauren Walters - Georgina Hagen: Lauren is a shy, quiet girl who you can tell initially feels totally out of her depth at this dance school. She fights with Claudine for the affection of Danny throughout the series. I like Lauren as she comes across as a normal girl, who you could relate to in real life. Her strength is singing, and is not a particularly strong dancer.
Lola Jonze - Rana Roy: Lola is thought of as the best dancer out of the three girls. She is extremely naïve and gullible, often laughed at by her friends because of this. She loves her pink and is very sweet. I like Lola, as she often breaks up the tension between Lauren and Claudine. In the series, she falls in love with Stephan, the dance teacher, although who wouldn't. She is a complete daydreamer that just wants to be famous.
Claudine Cameron - Sapphire Elia: Claudine is obsessed with making the big time. She is predominantly selfish and determined to become famous at anybody's expense, however you see at times, she has a heart. She fights with Lauren throughout the episodes for Danny's attention. As much as you want to hate Claudine, you do feel sorry for her. You can understand why she is the way she is due to the mental abuse she was subject to by her mum when she was younger. She is the ultimate triple threat.
Jez Tyler - Matthew James Thomas: Jez is an intelligent, gay young man. His ultimate talent lies in song-writing. He comes from a very wealthy background which he initially hides from his friends, as he does not want them to treat him differently because of money. He pretended to his father that he was a business student until his father finally sees his immense talent.
Danny Miller - Mitch Hewer: Danny is an easy-going, sincere young guy who thoroughly enjoys any sort of performing. He is torn in a love triangle between two beautiful girls, Lauren and Claudine. The final show will determine who is the one for him. He suffers from dyslexia which is picked up on by one of his music teachers when he acts as a jack-the-lad in her classes.
BB - Marcquelle Ward: He has had a tough start to life, after being brought up by his brother Julius from the age of 8 when his parents died. He then loses Julius in episode 5 and shows his maturity when he doesn't seek revenge. He is probably my favourite of all the characters as he is so likable. He gets along with everyone and has strong morals that he sticks to.
Ronnie Nuttal - Sophie Powles: A very sweet girl who works in the canteen after failing to get into Britannia High. In episode 8 she is completely embarrassed when she auditions for the end of year performance but is definitely not up to scratch.
Stefan - Adam Garcia: Stefan is the fit dance choreographer of Britannia High. He quits his job after getting close to Lola throughout the series.
Mr Nugent - Mark Benton: He is the head of Britannia High and will do anything for any of his students. You can see that he is passionate about drama, singing and dancing and is always looking out for the best interests of his students.
Mrs Troy - Michele Austin: Mrs Troy is the landlady of five of the teenagers that attend Britannia High. She is a very small part in the show and you only really know that she isn't very could at the sculptures she attempts to make.
Episode 1: Let's Dance - Lauren centric
Episode 2: Behind The Mask - Danny centric
Episode 3: Who Are You? - Jez centric
Episode 4: Fame - Lola centric
Episode 5: Go Your Own Way - BB centric
Episode 6: Miss Independent - Claudine centric
Episode 7: Don't Stand So Close To Me - Lola and Stefan centric
Episode 8: With A Little Help From My Friends - Lauren and Ronnie centric
Episode 9: Finale - All cast members
To be honest, the best thing about the show is the dance teacher Adam Garcia, who was in the film Coyote Ugly. He is gorgeous. If there is one reason I am not going to miss the show, there it is. Britannia High is fun and light-hearted, whilst covering a series of important topics. If I am being totally straight, I don't think that it lives up to the hype, but it is certainly something great to watch whilst you are doing something at the same time (like for me tidying your room).
The cast of Britannia High are supporting Girls Aloud in their 2009 tour, so if you want to see more from the cast, you know where to find it. You can also buy the Britannia High soundtrack from places like amazon or play. It features 19 of the songs from the show.
For further information about the show visit www.itv.com/britanniahigh.
The series focuses on high school students and their mentors at a fictional London theatre school.