CLAUDIA CONNELL reviews Station: Trouble On The Tracks

Boring? At one point we were literally watching paint dry! CLAUDIA CONNELL reviews Station: Trouble On The Tracks

The Station: Trouble On The Tracks

Rating:

Breeders

Rating:

How many times have you sat on a late running train or stared at a board full of cancellations at a station and thought: ‘This would make a really great documentary series’?

Even as someone who suffers at the hands of Southern Rail, I wouldn’t find it at all interesting.

Last night The Station: Trouble On The Tracks (ITV) looked at the workings of Birmingham New Street station, one of the busiest interchanges in the UK — handling 40 million passengers a year.

The first episode was filmed in November when floods led to cancelled trains. While private companies run the trains (five operators run out of Birmingham) the rail infrastructure is controlled by Network Rail.

No amount of dramatic movie trailer style voiceovers and talk of being ‘on the frontline’ with ‘unprecedented access’ could save this train wreck of a show. That’s because people who live the misery of rail travel every day don’t want to be reminded of it when they sit on the sofa for a quiet night of TV

It was at their space-age control centre, which resembles a Bond villain’s lair, that the managers despatched their ‘orange army’ to repair the tracks and paint over the endless graffiti. At one stage we were, literally, watching paint dry.

The only point of interest came when a Banksy mural appeared on a bridge overnight and the men had to cover it in Perspex so thieves didn’t nick it — brick by brick.

On the concourse, frustrated passengers gave their views about delays and dreaded bus replacement services. 

‘You know that saying about people in a brewery? That’s Network Rail,’ remarked one woman. Sounds a bit like the Labour Party.

Sadly, no amount of dramatic movie trailer style voiceovers and talk of being ‘on the frontline’ with ‘unprecedented access’ could save this train wreck of a show. 

Tackling the less rosy side of parenthood has been done before in comedies such as Motherland and Outnumbered. But Breeders takes things to a whole new level. Perhaps family planning centres should screen it in their waiting rooms as a more effective form of contraception

That’s because people who live the misery of rail travel every day don’t want to be reminded of it when they sit on the sofa for a quiet night of TV.

Breeders (Sky One), on the other hand, made a promising start. Martin Freeman recently admitted to swearing at and smacking his children. 

Fed up with shows about the joys of parenting he decided to create one that was painfully honest and even uncomfortable.

Paul Worsley (Freeman) and wife Ally (Daisy Haggard) are the frazzled, middle-class parents of Luke, seven, and Ava, four. 

Like most people with kids, their nerves and relationship hang by a thread due to sleep deprivation.

The episode opened with Paul (whose turn it was to attend to his children in the night) giving himself a pep talk about staying calm and being a better person . . . before bursting into the children’s bedroom and launching a foul-mouthed tirade, screaming at them to sleep. 

Later he told Ally: ‘I would die for those kids . . . but I also want to kill them.’

Out of desperation, Paul loaded the children into the car and drove through the deserted streets. 

Martin Freeman recently admitted to swearing at and smacking his children. Fed up with shows about the joys of parenting he decided to create one that was painfully honest and even uncomfortable

Ally woke to an empty house and, fearing he’d done something awful, called the police. 

When Paul was pulled over by squad cars with flashing blue lights, his only concern was that the sirens would wake the kids he’d finally got to sleep.

Later he admitted parenthood had made him ‘deranged . . . full- on Broadmoor.’

Launching with a double bill, the first episode was darkly funny. The second was less brutal, featuring a parents’ evening and, later, Ally and Paul resorting to sabotage to stop a highly competitive couple from getting their kids into the most sought-after local school.

Tackling the less rosy side of parenthood has been done before in comedies such as Motherland and Outnumbered. But Breeders takes things to a whole new level.

Perhaps family planning centres should screen it in their waiting rooms as a more effective form of contraception.

Rejuvenation of the night: Last night you could watch How To Beat Ageing (Ch4) then switch straight over to 10 Years Younger In 10 Days (Ch5). 

If that didn’t give you wrinkles and turn your hair grey, nothing will. 

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