Bev (Jessica Hynes) is a downtrodden wife who's failed her driving test eight times. Desperate to pass, she feels frustrated by her husband Ian's (Shaun Dingwall) approach in teaching her to drive. Inspired by glamorous driving school owner Fiona (Sarah Hadland), Bev is determined to succeed along with a group of other learner drivers. Chris (David Tennant), a devout Christian with the patience of a saint, is assigned as her instructor - and it's not long before Bev develops a crush on him, despite his geeky appearance.
I saw Learners when it was first broadcast, and liked it but not enough to buy it till the price had dropped a bit.
On second viewing it was better than I remembered. There are some great comedy moments, some touching scenes, and it is a good cast with no real weak links even down to the really rather small roles of the driving school's other learners and Bev's workmates. ("Ukrainian Ivana" is fantastic!)
I was especially impressed with the two children: good performances from these two youngsters.
Anyone who has seen David Tennant in anything else will not be at all surprised to learn that he plays geeky-but-cute driving instructor ably, with his usual wonderful comic timing and also his ability to convey compassion, pathos and sadness seemingly at will.
Hynes is sometimes a touch shrill but often very funny as multi-failing learner driver Bev. This is not maybe quite as convincing a performance or writing as she has produced elsewhere (notably in Spaced with Simon Pegg); it's above average, just not quite to her usual high standards. She does have some lovely moments, both comic and serious, and she pulls off several scenes that are very important to her character with aplomb.
Shaun Dingwell is also good as her longsuffering husband, though his character seems to flip between a sympathetic man who we pity and a bit of a good for nothing grumbler who shouts at his wife for being no good at driving. Realistic to a certain extent, but the two sides of this role never really mesh; a common problem with several of the characters.
The script is a little uneven, and I think many of the rough edges are due to this. I would agree with a previous reviewer who remarked that it doesn't know what it wants to be - drama, comedy, love story, what? Some films manage to pull all these different genres off in one package, Learners never really manages it. It's funny, sweet, mostly quite light-hearted, with some good performances, and is certainly nice feel-good, above average telly, but it can't quite pull itself up into excellent.
The DVD is very plain and simple (the disc doesn't even have the right rating on it, or did I get a duff one?), with scene selection and optional subtitles. Great picture and sound, but it does seem an opportunity missed - am I the only one who longs for a set of bloopers and unintended improvs from this great comic cast? That alone would have been worth the purchase price!
Don't expect brilliance; overall, though, it's very enjoyable fluff, which I am sure I will watch again whenever I need a bit of feelgood comedy. Well worth a fiver, and 4 stars for a brilliant cast and a good if flawed script.
My husband and I had heard about "Learners" and are big fans of Dr Who but hadn't planned to watch this. We caught the beginning by accident and ended up abandoning plans to watch a dvd as it was so good.
Wonderfully written characters who are quirky and real, a lovely story and something we will definitely watch again. My only complaint is that it didn't last longer!
I'd definitely watch anything else Jessica Hynes writes in future.
This is a good, solid, above-average drama which veers - rather like Bev's driving - between drama and comedy. For Doctor Who aficionados it is something of a cast reunion, Shaun Dingwall and Jessica Hynes both having appeared with Tennant in that show; and while Dingwall performs the down-on-his-luck wheeler-dealer in both, Hynes and Tennant get to play very different characters from those in their sci-fi outings.
All of the cast give it their all, although Tennant - despite his image being used to promote the programme - is actually not in it very much. This is very much about Hynes's Bev, and Tennant's Chris gets very little character development. It is worth watching the short scenes of Tennant as Chris more than once to see how the actor puts in little gestures and movements that provide more depth to the character's emotions than the script alone; and, as in ITV's 2005 drama 'Secret Smile', his character is a world away from the Time Lord. Hynes too shows off her range as an actor; watch this, then see her performances in Doctor Who as an Edwardian nurse and a little cameo as that character's descendant in Tennant's Who swan-song. Also worth appreciating are the actors playing the other driving school clients, who all have their own idiosyncrasies.
Otherwise, the story suffers from not being very funny; it would have been better-sold as a light drama. Worth watching if you admire the cast and in particular if you have ever been a learner driver.
As someone trying to get through my test, I was looking forward to this as a bit of light entertainment. Bev has failed her test eight times and is hoping that her new instructor (David Tennant) can help her pass.
It started out well. Bev was likeable and her driving made for some real comedy moments. However, I did feel that the scriptwriter couldn't quite decide if it was a comedy or a drama. At times, there were some genuinely touching moments, but on the whole, this is really only an average programme. There wasn't really enough of David Tennant's character and far too much of the Buddest driving school owner, who started out being horrible and then rapidly had a personality transplant.
I feel that this was a good effort, but there was something missing. Certainly enjoyable, but instantly forgettable.
I didn't enjoy this as much as I wanted to. It was too shallow. There wasn't enough of anything to feel things for the characters. Had the series been longer, we probably would have had the chance to love all the characters, but by the end of it, I just felt a bit...nothing. It'll make you smile but not laugh out loud. It's also like a Dr.Who Reunion with The Doctor (DT), Nurse thingy from The Family of Blood and Pete Tyler. Mostly enjoyable for that, and for Stevie from Miranda. Wanted more.
Saw this on the Beeb,then got the disc a while back It is all very low-key, ,but It has a certain charm,and actually improves with each viewing David Tennant is playing 'plain', but still has something about him! He couldn't do ' ugly',if he tried! If you take it for what it is, a low budget film where not-a- lot happens,it is a truly charming little film