135. Boy Trouble

Tapehead no 135

Trouble With Boys could have been called The Trouble With Boys but where would they start ? Where would they stop ? A programme called the Trouble With Boys would need almost as many episodes as The Trouble With Women.

Paul, the teenager at the heart of the first two episodes, is certainly trouble/troubled/troubling. Like a delinquent version of Jamie from Coronation Street (the only good character left), Paul is a hyperactive, aggressive, attention-seeking, brat of a boy.

“Paul’s parents worry he is out of adult control,” says the narrator. Nothing to worry about there: he is. Having been kicked out of school, Paul hangs around committing all the tedious petty crimes teenagers enjoy, or stays at home making his amiable, ineffectual parents’ lives a misery.

Episode one is a series of scenes of Paul screaming and shouting, whining, whinging, whimpering. It gets so bad Tapehead was on the point of going up to Lancashire to look for the little bleeder and beat the crap out of him.

“He has got some nice points, ” considers his soft mum.”But no-one can see them.”

The point of the two programmes is to let a professor in juvenile delinquency from Ohio go to work on him – no, unfortunately, with a few snooker balls in a sock and the short end of a pool cue but with a newly devised form of family therapy. 

The possibility that being filmed by the BBC only makes Paul worse is something Tapehead would not wish to speculate on.

Driving School begins with a couple arguing – appropriate, really, because that’s what you learn when you take lessons from your relatives; how to argue.

Maureen, a 55-yeaar-old cleaner from Cardiff, has already failed six times spent £5,000 on lessons, and nearly killed her husband Dave several times not just through her driving (which is appalling) but through the arguments, which result.

“Whoa ! Whoa !” he screams, wrestling the steering wheel from her grasp, as he veers across the dual carriageway into the path of an oncoming car. “For Christ’s sake ! That car was up your arse !”

She approaches the written theory exam (her first exam in 35 years) relying on her rather touching faith – in Bob Monkhouse. 

“As Bob Monkhouse says: I know I’m a sinner but God, please make me a winner.” (Eh ?)

Instead of more accidents and more disasters a la Cutting Edge, we end up with loads of rubbish about the instructor’s toy car collection and the need for driving instructors to buy skirts that offer “adequate manoeuverability” – and that’s just the men.

All you learn is that many of the arguments are caused by the fact that every time somebody says “turn left”, the other person will say “right”.

As Bianca in EastEnders, Patsy Palmer obviously knows a thing or two about arguing and about trouble with men.

“Have Patsy’s experiences of a broken home and her stormy relationship with the estranged father of her son made her wary of men ?” asks Oliver James, the psychologist quizzing her on The Chair.

Er…yes. They have.

As far as Tapehead could deduce, Oliver spends most of the interview, trying to pull Patsy, starting by talking about the time a friend of patsy’s stole some pictures of her (topless pictures”, he mentions with difficulty), and sold them to the tabloids. 

“Outrageous !” he mutters, probably wondering exactly what they looked like.

“Bianca’s a bit dim,” Oliver announces, rather bluntly, before asking (rather hopefully), “Do you see any kind of connection between you and Bianca ?”

Oliver tries some old ploys such as getting her to talk about when she met the father of her son (“how old was he?” he demands) and her first boyfriend who, she tells him, invited her home for “beans on toast” which, as everybody knows, is Cockney rhyming slang for “a quick *** ****  up the *******”. 

As psychoanalysis goes, it’s not exactly Sigmund Freud.

“If you had to go out with one of the characters, which would it be ?” he asks (rather jealously). “How has being Bianca changed your pulling power?”

He drifts into pure fantasy, purring suavely: “I can imagine if I met you at a party and I was trying to chat you up…”

By the time Oliver tells her: “You could sleep with some of the men there” (at this mythical party he’s imagining), he sounds as if he’s inviting her to a gang-bang.

Patsy’s sad little face falls into a frown.

“Ooooh, no” she says , pulling the neck of her jumper up round her chin, defensively. “I feel sick !”

You’re not the only one Pats.

The problem is poor Patsy feels she is better off without men.

Certainly without men like Oliver…


Driving School: Tues, 8pm, BBC1

Trouble With Boys: Tues, 11.15pm, BBC2

The Chair: Weds, 7.05pm, BBC2