How many episodes of The Teacher are there and is the haunting new Channel 5 drama based on a true story?

Fans will likely be wondering how many episodes of The Teacher there are until Jenna’s guilt or innocence is revealed…

How many episodes of The Teacher are there and is it based on a true story?
(Image credit: Channel 5)

The matter of how many episodes of The Teacher there are before we learn what *really* happened that night between Jenna and Kyle is hard to get out of your mind as the drama reaches it’s halfway point. 

Balancing sensitive themes with dramatic storytelling as it tells the tale of teacher Jenna facing accusations of sleeping with a 15-year-old student Kyle, The Teacher is the latest unmissable show to land this winter. From the shocking reality of where The Teacher is filmed to it’s stellar cast, including none other than Gavin & Stacey star Sheridan Smith, there’s plenty to keep you coming back for more in this Bradford-set drama. Thriller fans who loved the journey to the revelations in The Tourist ending and the sense of mystery maintained throughout will find themselves drawn into this disturbing drama. 

But how many episodes of The Teacher are there and is the disturbing drama based on a true story? 

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

How many episodes of The Teacher are there? 

The hit drama landed on Channel 5 on January 31st and is airing on consecutive nights, though there’ll be many people still wondering the ultimate question—how many episodes of The Teacher are there? And there’s good news for those hoping for plenty of scope to see Jenna and Kyle’s story continue as The Teacher has 4 episodes. Now halfway through airing, there are only two more emotional instalments to go before a seriously emotional finale. 

Anyone who’s not yet been drawn into The Teacher’s complex and evocative story of teacher Jenna as she proclaims her innocence amid accusations of sleeping with a student, there’s still time to catch-up on all you’ve missed before the truth is revealed. 

The Teacher starring Sheridan Smith

(Image credit: Channel 5)

So far in The Teacher Jenna has begun to question herself as she faces the harsh realities of the accusations against her and is appalled by what she’s told happened between her and Kyle. So much so, that in The Teacher episode 2 fans were shocked to see Jenna plead guilty to having sex with Kyle in order to avoid a trial, However, the uncertainty wasn’t over for long... 

Kyle later tells Jenna that she shouldn’t have plead guilty and looked genuinely sad for his teacher. Could Kyle have been told to lie to damage Jenna’s reputation or was there an alternative meaning behind his words that viewers aren’t aware of yet? 

Either way, with The Teacher episode 4 now almost here, viewers will be hoping that Jenna’s fate and her guilt or innocence is determined once and for all. Although if it’s anything like the BBC’s Showtrial, the truth might still be left up to your interpretation…

Is The Teacher based on a true story? 

Unlike true crime dramas Landscapers and Manhunt The Night Stalker, The Teacher isn’t adapting one specific true story. The Channel 5 drama is instead an original series written by Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Jon Gilbert and Mike Benson, though whilst the storyline is fictional, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t reflect real and equally sensitive events. Just like Angela Black, The Teacher drew inspiration from similar situations that sadly often occur in real life.  

According to Heart, the show’s creator and executive producer Mike Benson disclosed that one case of a teacher crossing boundaries with a sixth-form student after a drunken Christmas party came to mind when it came to the show. 

“I read one particular article about a respected teacher at a state school, who went to a sixth form Christmas party, got horrendously drunk and slept with a pupil,” he said. “They were rightly struck off and lost their whole career and reputation, but what also struck me was the fact that they didn't remember a single thing of the incident.”

Mike continued, “This idea that you can transition overnight from one of the most respected roles in society to one of the most reprehensible—and not remember a single thing of it - I found both horrifying and fascinating. There are elements of this in Jenna’s journey—the fact that she even considers she might have committed the crime forces her to call into question who she thinks she is as a person and a professional.”

The Teacher Channel 5 drama starring Sheridan Smith and Samuel Bottomley

(Image credit: Channel 5)

The creator also explained how he deliberately wanted The Teacher to take a ‘grey’ route, where things aren’t black and white, exploring the complexities involved when attempting to determine right and wrong and guilt and innocence. 

He added, “The dramas we make tend to have a theme or subject matter at the heart of them that we know people have an opinion on. We’d read a lot in the press about cases of teachers who were accused of having a relationship with a pupil and it's a very provocative, complex and sensitive area.”

It was this, Mike revealed, that convinced him that this controversial subject matter is something that could be explored in fictional form in The Teacher. 

The Teacher starring Sheridan Smith

(Image credit: Channel 5)

“We thought there was something interesting we could explore there, and also in terms of how the press reacts to these cases—more often than not it’s a feeding frenzy, using very emotive language and being quite simplistic and salacious,” he said.

Meanwhile, The Teacher’s director Dominic Leclerc revealed that he researched “real life incidents” between teachers and pupils and even spoke with teachers he knew personally to help him create an “informed” direction for the series.

As reported by Radio Times, Dominic explained he “did a lot of research across a whole range of real-life incidents" before adding that, “My mum was Head of English at a secondary school in Bradford where the series is set, my sister is a teacher and my best friend works at a college in Bradford, so I spoke to them a lot."

The Teacher starring Samuel Bottomley

(Image credit: Channel 5)

"They've experienced a whole range of complex issues with students, so it was good to get their perspective," he added before sharing that he also spoke with cousins working in social care in the same West Yorkshire town The Teacher is set and remarked upon how he wasn’t the only one to conduct research.

"Two of my cousins work in social care in Bradford too, so I talked to them as part of my research,” he disclosed. “We came at the project from a range of different directions to make it as real as possible and our writer [Motherland's] Barunka [O'Shaughnessy] did her own research too.”

Affirming that the “last thing” the showrunners wanted was to get viewers’ attention with “salacious taboos”, Dominic added that instead their approach was focused around creating a “nuanced, subtle exploration of the subject matter”. 

Now fans know how many episodes of The Teacher there are until this complex psychological drama reaches what promises to be an unmissable conclusion, there's plenty of time to form your own theories about Jenna and Kyle...

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use , Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!