Review of Learners

Written by Jessica Hynes, Directed by Francesca Joseph

Television film, originally aired 11 November 2007 BBC One


by Monika Lewis                                        Reviewed 9 June 2008

I found this film enjoyable because of the talented actors involved and the interesting characters.  The three main actors, Jessica Hynes, David Tennant and Shaun Dingwall have all performed in Doctor Who.  Hynes and Tennant have a similar dynamic to their roles in the episodes "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood," in which the practical Joan Redfern (Hynes, credited as Jessica Stevenson)  romanced the Doctor's human alter ego, a schoolteacher called John Smith.  In Learners, Hynes plays Bev, a woman whose career ambitions are held back by her inability to pass her driving test.  David Tennant's character, Chris, is an instructor at the driving school who is very good at his job but is socially awkward.  He defines himself by his Christian faith and is very moral.   Bev's partner Ian (Dingwall, who previously played Rose's dad Pete Tyler in Doctor Who) has a variety of odd jobs while Bev supports the family with her cleaning  job. 

Bev likes Chris a lot and learns a lot from his classes, but has trouble coming up with the money to continue lessons.  The show has amusing moments from the interaction of different personality types among the students and teachers in the driving school, although it doesn't commit to being a comedy or a drama, but is a combination of the two.  Tennant shows his versatility in the role.  In contrast to the confident Doctor, who seems comfortable in any situation, Chris must learn during the course of the story how to get what he wants.  Though the plot is not as eventful as a crime drama or science fiction show, the lives of the characters in Learners are relatable and pleasant to spend time with.