Dr Who spin-off is no Class act, more of a Buffy-lite

Halloween has become quite the thing, hasn't it? You can't move for pumpkin spiced lattes '“ pumpkin, by the way, is not a spice '“ sexy skeleton costumes, and various ghost-shaped sweets jostling for supermarket shelf space alongside family-sized tins of Quality Street and festive cream cracker selections.

Friday, 28th October 2016, 3:39 pm
Updated Monday, 31st October 2016, 9:46 am
Katherine Kelly stars as Miss Quill in the BBCs new Doctor Who spin-off, Class

A decade or so ago, October 31 was a mere sideshow before the riot of gunpowder, toffee apples and unfortunate sparkler incidents which was Bonfire Night. You were lucky if you got to bob an apple or two.

But now, thanks to the Americanisation of our festivals, Monday – no, the whole weekend – will be spent answering the door to children dressed as The Walking Dead demanding sweets.

Of course, this Yankee Doodle Dandy approach to things isn’t confined to our great pagan events.

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Schools seem to have increasingly fallen foul of this trend, with the loathsome ritual of the ‘prom’ centre stage.

Which brings us to Class (BBC3, iPlayer and online), the latest spin-off from the world of Doctor Who.

Like the previous extension of the Whoniverse, Torchwood, this is aimed at a slightly older audience than the original series, which allows it to include some handsome gore when a minor character is run through with an alien sword, and a couple of swear words.

Based around the Autumn ‘prom’ at Coal Hill Academy – a name to conjure with for Who fans – this first episode introduced an archetypal group of teen students, recognisable from an array of ’80s John Hughes movies – the jock, the nerd, the brain, himbo, etc, etc.

The whole thing was – to put it charitably – an homage to the 90s teen horror classic series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a debt they at least acknowledged in a neat throwaway line about the ‘Hellmouth’.

The problem is that Buffy had a lightness of touch, a chemistry and an inventiveness that will be hard for Class to match – Buffy episodes The Body and Once More With Feeling, to name just two, were really, really great TV.

A number of plot threads were hammered into place, setting up various story arcs for the series, but it was noticeable that the story only hit its stride when the Doctor himself appeared, in the nick of time.

When he’s not in Class, there may be more tricks than treats.