The Thieving Headmistress, BBC2

by | Jul 19, 2006 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

While having strong reservations about the way a serious real crime was turned into a comic lark, we did find this drama documentary about Colleen McCabe very entertaining.

What was good about it?

• Pauline Quirke’s performance as Colleen, a nun who decided to go into teaching and then decided to become a principal without principles, ripping off her south London school, helping herself to £500,000 from the school funds.

• Colleen’s dictatorial manner, enabling her to ride roughshod over the timid bursar (a magnificent Mary Roscoe) as jewellery, booze and holidays in Malta (why Malta??) were charged to the school’s credit card.

• Denis Lawson as the priest who was seduced by Colleen’s gifts (rather than Colleen herself) including a £600 Gucci watch.

• The stylish segment in which Colleen’s give-me-loyalty dinner with her staff (depicted rather cleverly as The Last Supper) was intercut with scenes from the police station where they all came clean about Colleen.

• “Blood of Christ, father?” – Colleen’s way of offering around the fine wines she bought for her inner circle of staff

• The scenes of the pupils sweeping the corridors and wearing wooly gloves in the classroom as Colleen cut back on cleaning and heating to finance her extravagance

• Geoffrey Palmer’s narration – no-one does sardonic like he does

What was bad about it?

• There was only a sketchy attempt to explain the motive (maybe Colleen was filling a lonely void by spend, spend, spending)

• Colleen’s silk leopard-print pyjamas, trimmed with lace

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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