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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Thecustard goes back to school with Bad Education


In May I was lucky enough to find myself in a room with the cast and crew of BBC3's brilliant comedy Bad Education as they shot scenes for the upcoming second series. For those of you unlucky enough to miss out of the first series, it centres on Alfie Wickers (played by co-writer Jack Whitehall), a posh, newly graduated Secondary School history teacher at the fictional Abbey Grove School, in Hertfordshire.

When the series debuted in August of last year it received record ratings for BBC3 and became an instant hit on twitter with huge praise piled on the young cast. When asked what it was like working with Whitehall co-writer  Freddy Syborn said, "we've known each other since we were 14. We were the only people at our boarding school weird enough to like the The League of Gentlemen so we got to know each other that way and wrote, and we've written ever since." Syborn went on to say that the pair went to a very different school to the one being depicted in the show but that the universal things about school life are true to anyone.

This second series sees everyone return for a new term as Abbey Grove gears up for their annual swimming gala. This being Bad Education this isn't your bog standard gala as Deputy Head Fraser (portrayed brilliantly by Matthew Horne) takes inspiration from "the greatest show on Earth...... Splash!" Insisting that everyone take part in a synchronised diving competition. Alfie says "his class would rather take a running jump", but when Pickwell (the incredibly zany Michelle Gomez) mocks his class and their ability to compete, the race is on to get in the pool. Syborn told me that he and Jack had  more fun writing scenes for Pickwell because they knew how wonderful an actress Gomez was. "Being able to hear the voice of the actor has really helped." A lot of attention was rightly placed on the talent of Alfie's class and the young cast playing them and Syborn said they were keen that everyone had their moment this year. "What was great this time was that we had a week of rehearsals so we were able to flesh it out a bit more and work in some of the actors ad-libs. It was nice to be a bit more collaborative with them." Speaking of the show's rating success Syborn said, "it was nice because we hit the demographic we wanted to reach, it's made me very cool with my neighbours. First they thought I was weird, now they know I'm pretty hip! Kids seem to love it but also my Grandmother loves it, apart from the sex education episode which she thought it was a bit fresh."

It would also appear that Alfie has finally convinced Miss Gulliver (the wonderfully uptight Sarah Solemani) to be his girlfriend as he gloats unashamedly about her changing her facebook status to "in a relationship." The brilliance of the series is that all the characters are really well developed. To say it's a talented bunch is to state the obvious, the cast bounce off one another so effortlessly. The swimming gala episode was the perfect way to return to the madcap world of Abbey Grove. Highlights include Alfie's chlorine allergy, Joy the joyless lifeguard and Alfie coming to Gulliver's rescue over a vending machine.

As far as what viewers both new and returning can expect in this second run Syborn said, "This series differs slightly because we've got a narrative arch that runs throughout. We've got a Valentine's day episode and a drugs episode, which is as hard hitting and brutal as you'd expect. It's like The Wire!" 

Bad Education is available to preview on BBC Iplayer now and starts at 10.00pm on Tuesday 3rd September on BBC Three.

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