When I first heard The Demon Headmaster had been 'revived', I was initially quite sceptical. I liked the '90s series as a kid, and couldn't picture how it could work in the 2010s. However, I was pleasantly surprised, having been hooked by the end of the first episode. I was able to see how necessary it was to continue it in modern age, what with the politics around academy schools, and particularly the domination of technology in our lives. The Orwellian references are pretty explicit, but not overwhelmingly so, and feel really natural to the storyline and reflect genuine fears in modern society. For a show aimed at children to be so subtly imbued with political ideas is impressive to say the least.
The series retains the original's plot of the Headmaster's control of a school using hypnotism, but it manages to stay fresh with its different approach to characterisation. The main difference I liked was the fact that none of the characters are immune to the Headmaster's powers, making him seem more of a genuine threat. It also adds strain to the main characters' relationships, as the Headmaster's influence prevents them from controlling their own actions towards each other. The actors portraying the teenage characters, particularly, those of Lizzie and Blake, are exceptional, conveying a range of emotions in a very raw and authentic way.
Nicholas Gleaves delivers an outstanding performance as the titular Headmaster. He manages to stay calm and collected, in an inhuman way characteristic of Hardiman's performance from the original show, but also conveys a barely contained rage at certain moments, which set it apart from what Hardiman did with the role, at make it fresh and exciting.
I can't recommend it enough, not only do I think children should watch it, but adults as well, it's as tense as any 9pm BBC thriller I've watched recently, and brilliantly sharp on so many levels. A must-watch.
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