Thursday, 25 August 2011

Reality TV's Original & Greatest Star - Maureen 'Driving School' Rees

So. Big Brother is back. I blogged here back in September of its long overdue-demise. Reading back on what was one of my formative blog posts nearly a year ago, it still reads well despite the odd spelling error.

It was as I said then, a programme which "split a nation but which has defined a decade". I honestly thought then that it would be the end but no, Channel 5 as I alluded too at the end of that post snapped up the rights for this tired old format. It is still with us but it won't last. It has, like Gaddafi, had its day.

But it made me wonder back over a decade of reality TV and though I stated in that original blog post that it was the launch of Big Brother in the summer of 2000 that kick started an extraordinary decade of television, it wasn't in fact the first of its kind here in the UK.

Driving School
For me, reality TV never really bettered one of its earliest efforts in the late 1990s.

I remember being glued to each episode of the docusoap Driving School when it launched for a single series of 6 episodes in 1997. Watching back the episodes now some 14 years later, still as a non-driver myself, I have much respect for those who tried something which has evaded me to date.

But there was no better and more believable trier than our Maureen. The fact that she was Welsh probably added to it but through the 4 episodes in which she starred, she shone through as a normal, everyday individual who had her dreams and who continued to fight for what she wanted despite the many setbacks that came her way.

Watching that first episode brought back such vivid memories. There was Joan and her dog sitting in the front seat and there were the instructors Paul Farrall and Pamela Carr from Streetwise Driving School. Before I heard it, on seeing Pamela again for the first time in 14 years I knew that there was something unique about her that had struck a chord with me then as a 14 year old. Suddenly, I remembered - her mobile 'phone ringtone! Just seconds before it made its first announcement, I recalled exactly what that memorable ringtone was!

It really is odd the things you remember!

But it was Maureen's relationship with husband David that was the star attraction of the show. Their blazing rows as she tried her best to drive Betsy the Lada gave us moments of sheer comic gold. There are some moments that just can't be staged and their moments of mahem proves that fact sometimes really is weirder than fiction. The series climaxed by witnessing how her determination and stubborness eventually paid off as she finally passed her driving test at the 10th time of asking!

Here below are episodes 1,2,3 and 6 as they were the ones that involved our Maureen Rees the cleaner from Cardiff, the original reality TV star.

Roll over Big Brother, Maureen wins hands-down every time!


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