My Appalling School Report, BBC2

by | Mar 10, 2006 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

A sporadically enjoyable look back on school days through the variable eyes of famous faces.

What was good about it?

• The breathless narration of Richard Briers who sounds as if he is a wizened misanthrope whispering into a personal diary all the things he hates most about the world.

• Stuart Maconie was by some distance the best of the talking heads. Whereas he once could be quite annoying by his crushing ubiquity on such programmes now he, and his similarly erudite sidekick Andrew Collins, are like beacons of divine light piercing the hellish darkness of Gyles Brandreth and Michael Winner.

• Maconie’s evocative dismay at the contents of his school reports was the only thing that chimed with your own experience, whether it was the time when one afternoon he took an identical exam metalwork that his pal had sat in the morning and he spent the whole of the lunch hour learning the answers to the questions (we did that once but somehow only scored 65%) or his juvenile bafflement at how one teacher described his attitude as “cavalier”.

• And Maconie’s damning of the clichéd phrase “must try harder”, for which he expressed that everyone should try harder, everyone, that is, “apart from Hitler” who should “knock it off a bit”.

• David Puttnam’s anecdote about how in his final report the headmaster had labelled him “and enigma”. Puttnam optimistically took this to mean “interesting”, but the phrase affected him so much that he called his film company Enigma Productions.

• When Gyles Brandreth wasn’t oozing nonsense, he did recall how boarding school reports, such as his own, were always sycophantically gushing to encourage parents to pay next year’s fees.

• The photograph of the cherubic Michael Winner in which he wears a diabolical expression on his cherubic features as though taking a sadistic delight in the burning of some heathen witches.

What was bad about it?

• The main problem was that when the reports were composed, the talking heads were as normal and anonymous as everyone else, so there was little that was remarkable or distinct in them. Sure, there was the odd hint of future greatness such as Adrian Lester’s teacher who noted that he was a bit of a dreamer, but very rarely did an officious, clinical assessment of a pupil teachers probably considered a single ant amid the teeming colony offer any real insight into the future superstars (or lumbering mound of talentless blubber who even Japanese whalers would toss back into the ocean in the case of Michael Winner).

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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