For me, those two words Jack Whitehall are magic! I’m a huge fan of the comedian – he excels on panel shows (which has led to him taking a regular slot on Sky’s A League of Their Own) and never fails to please audiences with his stand-up. Add to this his brilliant performance as JP in Fresh Meat last year and you really have a comedy talent. Therefore, Bad Education – which he penned and starred in – was bound to be a hilariously funny, wasn’t it? Well, it’s funny…but not hilarious. It certainly has its flaws.
The acting in Bad Education is brilliant, I’m not denying that for one second, but the characters who the actors play aren’t so much. They’re just too clichéd for me: there’s the camp boy, the loud-mouthed stroppy boy, nerdy girl and the flirty girl to name a few. In reality, you don’t meet many people who actually behave like this in class, and if they do it’s certainly not to this extent! Plus, at the moment, the Head Master (Fraser, played by Mathew Horne) is far too similar to David Brent, perhaps mixed with a bit of Gavin & Stacey‘s Smithy. I write scripts – I have to invent characters, their personalities, their likes, their dislikes, their flaws. Every comedy writer wants to be responsible for creating the next big thing – the next David Brent, before that they probably wanted to create the next Victor Meldrew, and before that Basil Fawlty. What I’m saying is, it’s okay to take inspiration from previous writers’ achievements and character successes but not actually write another copy of them, just as I feel Jack Whitehall has done with Fraser.
THE GREAT ELEMENT
There are great elements to this show, though, and – sticking with the theme of character – the Deputy Head, Miss Pickwell (portrayed by Green Wing‘s Michelle Gomez), is brilliantly written and has some inspired one-liners, despite still having something of the Brent about her. My favourite line of the whole episode was undoubtedly Pickwell reprimanding Alfie (Whitehall):
“The trouble with you, Mr. Wickers, is that you’re all fart and no poo. When I fart, I follow through.”
So, I’m sure you can see where I’m coming from when I say that Pickwell is akin to Brent but it’s still a terrific line – it completely sums up this aloof, condescending character.
The end scene about Palmer’s syndrome was really funny, too, packed with genuinely brilliant jokes, mainly from Whitehall’s character Alfie Wickers. The fact that this was an unprofessional – and quite unpopular – teacher was immediately obvious and the visual gag which revealed his pupils to be segregated during a lesson on Apartheid was actually quite imaginative. I think Alfie’s relationship with the staff (particularly Pickwell and his love interest Rosie, played by Him & Her‘s Sarah Solemani) could develop into a great plot but – as this was the opening episode – it’s still, understandably, very much in the early stages.
I’m sure Bad Education displays promise, and I hope that Jack Whitehall’s talent as a comedy writer is showcased more.
There’s more Bad Education next week, which means there’ll be another review. In the meantime, why not follow me on Twitter @UKTVReviewer? Go on!