Since hearing about Bad Education, a sitcom set in a school I could not wait to watch the first episode.
A few months down the line and the series, produced by Tiger Aspect has just had it's debut on BBC Three. With a fair bit of press coverage leading up to it, I bet you're all thinking 'Did it live up to the hype?', well keep reading to find out what I made of it. Think Waterloo Road with less gangs, less fires and a heavy dose of humour.
Jack Whitehall, best known for his stand-up is increasingly becoming better known for his ability to act, first in Fresh Meat and now Bad Education. Not content with just starring in a sitcom he has decided to write one, which in fact has been a work in progress for three years. And naturally gives himself the lead character to play, Alan Wickers.
The first opening of episode one would have left you thinking that Alfie Wickers was in fact a pupil as we see him getting told off for wearing a hood, being intimidated by some of the school's harder lads and throwing up in a classroom sink after what seems like a one house party too many. However he ends up in a classroom and we find out that he is in fact Mr Wickers, a teacher who at times seems better suited to being a pupil and often the biggest kid in the class.
Described as Abbey Grove's self-styled maverick teacher-in-residence, Mr Wickers doesn't have an easy ride with the pupil, despite his very best efforts to appear cool he receives insults such as "Shut up Downton Abbey" by a kid who want to steal his trainers. Not forgetting a rather embarrasing moment where a pupil calls him dad, a moment we all remember from school. Coming from someone else... obviously!
One pupil in particular who doesn't take too well to Mr Wicker's style of teaching is Jin, played by Kae Alexander. The only Chinese pupil in the class and the butt of many of Mr Wicker's jokes much to her annoyance. She often vents her frustration of being in Mr Wicker's class by speaking to him in Chinese, often spurring him on further to make a joke. Easily one of the standout pupils, she's definitely one to keep an eye on as the series progresses.
I've been a big admirer of Sarah Solemani's work for a while now (Him & Her) and her role as Rosie in Bad Education has reaffirmed my love for her. In an interview she has been quoted as saying that the reason she took on the part is because she really likes School Of Rock and thought that this was really similar to that (the fact one stars Jack Black and the other Jack White[hall] I'm sure wouldn't have been the clincher).
It should come as no surprise that Miss Gulliver, Head of Biology, is Alfie's love interest, or at least that's how he likes to see it. A bit of awkward 'teacher flirting' and putting his post in her pigeon hole to start up conversation is about as far as their relationship goes, or is ever likely to go. despite his elation at Richard breaking up with her describing him as a 'square'.
As if Solemani and Whitehall weren't enough to whet my appetite for this new sitcom then Mathew Horne's triumphant return to comedy since Gavin & Stacey (those of you who remember the sketch show he did will know why that's not included) certainly did.
Luckily his character, the school's headmaster Fraser is completely different to Gavin (Gavin & Stacey) even by the simple fact that the first time we see him he is bouncing on a bouncy ball singing along to KRS-One's 'Sound of Da Police'. This is the start of a series of events that proves that Fraser tries too hard to be 'down with the kids' and isn't as in touch with the kids as he thinks he is. He finds himself in a 'what font are you' argument with Alfie in which Alfie (Comic Sans) calls Fraser 'Times New Roman' when Fraser sees himself as more of a 'Wingdings' kinda guy.
Fraser also has his eyes set on Miss Gulliver, so Alfie has some serious competition in that department. Will she settle for History teacher or will she upgrade to headmaster or worse still will she choose none of them. Who knows? But something tells me that this will be an ongoing thing throughout the series.
Not forgetting Michelle Gomez (Green Wing) who plays Miss Pickwell, the Deputy Head Teacher at Abbey Grove School. She is seen in the first episode to be giving Alfie a hard time pushing him for those mock test results which Alfie has yet to mark.
And just when Alfie thinks he's cracked it by getting the kids to mark the tests but his plan doesn't go un-noticed by Miss Pickwell as she fails every single pupil in his class.
>Next week's episode is definitely one to watch as Alfie finds himself teaching a Sex Education class in front of not just pupils but their parents also, angry Mumsnet users (you know the type)... oh and there's some foreign exchange students thrown in there for good measure.
Episode Three sees Alfie helping Miss Gulliver to arrange a school weapons amnesty leading to a small riot in the school.Look out for a special cameo from Lethal Bizzle as well in Episode Four (4th September 2012).