Tonight on Channel 4 there’s a chance to catch up with Musharaf Asghar. Remember him? The Thornhill Academy pupil who had the nation reaching for their hankies as he overcame a debilitating stammer in arguably the best TV moment of all time.
If you recall, it was all down to English teacher Mr Burton who – inspired by The King’s Speech, no less – popped his headphones on Mushy’s ears during Educating Yorkshire’s finale and had him recite a near-perfect speech with the help of some “beats”. It was telly gold dust – and saw the show pick up plenty of silverware earlier this year.
Tonight’s Stammer School reunites us with Mushy, now a graduate of Thornhill and hoping to be a teacher. There’s just one obstacle in his path… the stammer, because, as Burton puts it, “You can’t always go around with headphones”.
Mushy has decided it’s time to take action so, together with a group of fellow stammerers, he enrolls on a four-day course that has the potential to transform, well, everything.
For some viewers, this will be their first introduction to Mushy. For everyone, tonight is a chance to really get to know him. “I know to some people it may be just speaking but to me and my family it is for me to show this world who I am,” he muses. “I just want to make my family proud of me.”
I watched Stammer School earlier today in the RT office and spent much of the hour-long episode hovering on the verge of tears. The struggles Musharaf grapples with are staggering, as are those faced by one-time extrovert Vicky whose minor stroke has left her with a severe stammer, and nursery worker Debbie who’s struggled to speak since the age of four.
All three are – excuse the cliché – inspiring. The battles they face, the bravery they summon, the success they enjoy are something to behold. This really is must-see telly. With Yorkshire follow-up Educating the East End poised to begin next week, it looks like Channel 4 have already reacaptured a dash of the spine-tingling magic we witnessed in that Thornhill Academy classroom. Don’t miss out.
Stammer School begins tonight at 9:00pm on Channel 4