Sheridan Smith’s new thriller is all about consent, power and accountability

Teacher, a new psychological thriller TV series starring Sheridan Smith, promises to be “challenging” and “provocative.”

Earlier this year, BBC Two’s A Teacher stirred up controversy with its tale of a teacher’s dangerous and abusive relationship with one of her young students.

Now, Channel 5 has announced that it will be following in the Beeb’s footsteps with its own four-part psychological thriller, Teacher.

Here’s what you need to know about the series.

What’s the plot of Teacher?

The TV show aims to tell the story of Jenna, a teacher whose life falls apart after being accused of a drunken sexual encounter with one of her pupils.

As per the official synopsis provided by Channel 5: “With no memory of the night in question, Jenna’s only hope of redemption lies in uncovering the truth about a dark event in her past that returns to haunt her.”

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Who stars in Teacher?

Sheridan Smith will take the lead in Teacher as Jenna.

Speaking about the decision to cast the Cilla actor, Mike Benson, managing director of production company Clapperboard, says: “When we first developed Teacher we had Sheridan in mind as someone who could bring empathy and complexity to the character of Jenna, so the fact she has agreed to come on board is hugely exciting.”

Sheridan Smith will star as Jenna in Channel 5’s Teacher.

Smith will be joined by the likes of former Strictly Come Dancing champ Kelvin Fletcher, as well as Samuel Bottomley, Cecilia Noble, Sharon Rooney, David Fleeshman, and Ian Puleston-Davies.

What are people saying about Teacher?

Benson has promised that the drama will “explore the challenging and provocative themes thrown up by these types of cases” – and tackle a series of difficult questions around consent, power and accountability.

However, it is worth noting that Teacher is set to walk a very difficult line. Because, by making the main drive of its story one of doubting a person’s allegations of rape (and by empathising with the woman who stands accused of committing the crime), it has the potential to perpetuate a dangerous myth.

False rape allegations are very rare. By contrast, the experience of rape and other forms of sexual violence and abuse is much more common than most people realise.

As Katie Russell, national spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales, previously told Stylist: “False rape allegations are very rare. By contrast, the experience of rape and other forms of sexual violence and abuse is much more common than most people realise. 

“The impacts on survivors are significant and long-lasting, and the vast majority of those who are subjected to these serious, traumatic crimes never report to the police.

“Among the reasons survivors tell us they don’t report are fear of not being believed and of being treated like the one under suspicion. The criminal justice process is long and difficult and it’s not something people routinely put themselves through for petty reasons.”

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Who is working behind-the-scenes on Teacher?

The series has been created by Barunka O’Shaughnessy – whose previous credits include several episodes of Motherland – and Cold Call’s Mike Benson.

The A Word’s Dominic Leclerc, meanwhile, will take on directorial duties.

When will Teacher become available to watch on Channel 5?

Filming on the series is currently scheduled to begin this month, with a broadcast expected to follow later in 2021.

Images: Getty

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