Bad Education - In The Press
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Lessons I learned from watching Bad Education
I'm not calling Bad Education groundbreaking television, but I eventually came to feel affection for history teacher Alfie Wickers (Jack Whitehall) and his classroom full of underachieving teenagers.
British Telly Blog, 26th October 2013
When Bad Education works, it is brilliantly, deliriously stupid. But often, as with many modern sitcoms, there's something awry about the timing: a vuvuzela blast, followed by lots of floundering around. This Valentine's Day episode, though, is as disgusting as you'd wish for. Mr Fraser stages an in-school Take Me Out to get "the shy kids off Virgin rail and on to the Poontang Express", and Chantelle needs Alfie's help with a delicate matter. Will he ring her mum? "I can't; she's so flirty. Plus, I think her number's a premium line."
Ali Catterall, The Guardian, 24th September 2013
I remember teachers exactly like Alfie (Jack Whitehall), who desperately sucked up to the classes that bullied them. We had a German master who turned his "lessons" into an eternal Rubik's Cube competition (prizes of cash and Smarties).
At Abbey Grove School's swimming gala, the wimpish Alfie claimed a chlorine allergy so bad it would turn him "from Jamie Redknapp to Harry Redknapp just like that". But then, in the cause of trying to prove his class wasn't a bunch of complete losers, he agreed to enter the synchronised diving contest and his face swelled up until he looked like Avid Merrion in Bo' Selecta!. God, it was funny. I sniggered all the way through and then - old habits die hard - nipped out for a bag of cheese and onion crisps, the swimming gala snack of choice, whether you're 14 or 40.
Rachel Cooke, The New Statesman, 12th September 2013
As ever, Bad Education isn't really about the plotting. Tonight's paper-thin scenario involves a hotshot American teacher arriving at the school, taking over Alfie's class and making the kids love him. So far, so predictable. But writer and lead Jack Whitehall has an enviable way with a one-liner and a remarkable eye for the feeble posturing of male loserdom.
It's hard to work out which of the male teachers is more cringeworthy. Is it the pathetically needy Alfie? Or Mr Fraser, the self-proclaimed 'Archbishop of Banterbury'? Actually, tonight it's probably Mr Schwimmer, the Yank with his secrets and lies. Whitehall doesn't write women quite as well - Mrs Pickwell increasingly feels like a dangerously close copy of Michelle Gomez's Green Wing character Sue White - but this is still an incredibly entertaining half hour.
Phil Harrison, Time Out, 10th September 2013
The decision to make the classroom comedy by Jack Whitehall available in advance on iPlayer - the flagship for BBC3's plan to push all its comedy that way - paid off with a big hike in the audience for a farcical mix of wit and slapstick. Tonight, Alfie, Whitehall's overgrown kid of a teacher, has his nose put firmly out of joint when new teacher Mr Schwimer dazzles his pet pupils with his all-American charms. How will Alfie bite back?
Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 10th September 2013
Bad Education has got Jack Whitehall in it and Jack Whitehall is sick. (As I believe young people are wont to describe things of which they violently approve.) Whitehall (born 1988, the bastard!) is someone you might certainly wish to hate if he weren't so utterly charming, enormously talented and disarmingly honest. He went to Marlborough (he's the son of an actress and a leading theatrical agent) and one of the things that's great about him is that he makes absolutely no pretence that he's anything other than a smug, louche, overprivileged, desperately middle-class public school tosser with a weapons-grade sense of entitlement.
Whitehall has built his career on playing thinly-disguised versions of himself, whether as the eyelash-batting school tart flirting outrageously with susceptible prefect Stephen Fry on QI, or as swaggering Old Stoic JP in Fresh Meat or, in Bad Education, the spectacularly useless, impeccably middle-class, Mumford & Sons-loving Mr Wickers.
There is lots wrong with Bad Education, starting with the fact that it has nothing whatsoever satirically insightful to say about the failings of sink comprehensives like the one in which it is set. And how come the class sizes are smaller than you get in many private schools? And how come the kids, even the supposedly delinquent ones, all have hearts of gold? In truth, Bad Education would work just as well on a spaceship, or in a jungle village, or in the lodging house shared by three priests on a remote Irish island...
Just like Father Ted, though (which of course gave us little insight into the Catholic Church), Bad Education transcends its obvious limitations by simple virtue of being naturally funny. From the way it's shot to the way it's acted, it oozes the cocky, infectious confidence of a winner.
It doesn't matter that the jokes are hit and miss. When they work, you love them, like the one where the white headmaster, who has already upset a black parent with the insensitive use of a racial term ('Perhaps, with hindsight best left to rappers. Eh, bro?'), decides to open the school swimming gala as if it were an Olympic ceremony. He does so in a white bathrobe, lighting a candelabra of torches which unfortunately collapses to become a flaming cross, even as the pointed hood on his robe sticks up and he dances in embarrassment as the black parent looks on in horror. Totally contrived; utterly ludicrous; but a gag that will stick in the memory like the rude vegetables scene from Blackadder II.
James Delingpole, The Spectator, 7th September 2013
Bad Education, Jack Whitehall's enjoyably puerile sitcom, has returned for a second series and this time around has to contend with Big School, another BBC school sitcom in which the main joke is that the staff are no more grown-up than the pupils. For my money, Whitehall's Abbey Grove edges Walliams' Greybridge in the comedy league tables, thanks mainly to its youthful anarchy. At 25, Whitehall is barely out of short trousers after all, and it is his admirable willingness to make himself look silly - often repellently so - that carries the show. He is ably supported in the staff room by an understated and terminally unimpressed Sarah Solemani and an unhinged, livewire Mathew Horne as the would-be trendy Head who wears neon trainers and lives for the banter.
The opening episode was defiantly gross-out, involving a swimming gala, toilet humour, nudity, and a disfiguring reaction to chlorine. Around the edges, it packed in a lot of good jokes, from hair puns to digs at Mumford and Sons. It's scattergun stuff, but the clearly gifted Whitehall should trust his writing and the performances to carry the comedy more. He resorts to off-colour, physical gags too often here, but that may just be start-of-term hijinks. Shows promise.
Alice Jones, The Independent, 4th September 2013
Bad Education - TV review
Jack Whitehall and Abbey Grove School need some special measures - unless, of course, it's all a send-up.
Written by John Crace. The Guardian, 4th September 2013
Jack Whitehall on being unlucky in love
Jack Whitehall on being unlucky in love, stealing slang from teenagers and finding comedy in schools.
Written by Ellie Walker-Arnott. The Radio Times, 3rd September 2013
Bad Education, BBC Three, review
The second series of Jack Whitehall's school-based sitcom offers nothing new, says Judith Welikala.
Written by Judith Welikala. The Daily Telegraph, 3rd September 2013
Jack Whitehall on public schools
Jack Whitehall, the star and scriptwriter of BBC Three's Bad Education, says public schools are "less detached from reality" than people might expect.
Written by Ellie Walker-Arnott. The Radio Times, 3rd September 2013
Jack Whitehall's hapless teacher Alfie, the indomitable deputy head Miss Pickwell (Michelle Gomez) and master of the one-liners Grayson (Jack Bence) are back for a new term at Abbey Grove, where kids and staff are as gleefully caricatured as ever. That's gleefully in the proper sense of the word, not in the Glee sense, where the caricatures might be more subtle but the lines are a lot less funny.
Plotwise, everything centres around Alfie's ongoing infatuation with Miss Gulliver and a swimming competition, with the two strands fusing beautifully in a rip-roaring conclusion. But the plot is throwaway, something to hang a load of laugh-out-loud, knowing one-liners on, as delivered by a deft cast that breezes through them.
Chuck in a load of cultural references that anyone aged ten to 30 will easily get, and star and writer Jack Whitehall can put his feet up and relax. Job done. Grayson's withering 'Oi, Mumford & Sons called. They want their gay one back!' to Whitehall's Alfie stood out for us, but there are so many more. As far as school sitcoms go, Bad Education is top of the class.
Yolanda Zappaterra, Time Out, 3rd September 2013
Series two of Jack Whitehall's sitcom kicks off with that most excruciating of school rituals: the swimming gala. Naturally, the teachers are far more competitive than the pupils and place hefty bets.
Sporting a new bowl haircut that will also bring back ugly memories for some viewers, Whitehall's character sets about bribing his class into the pool but is thwarted by a lifeguard even meaner than the deputy head.
Michelle Gomez plays the latter with gleeful menace, while Mathew Horne returns as the highly inappropriate, equally frightfully coiffed headmaster. Prepare for lewd gags and the eye-watering sight of Whitehall in nothing but Y-fronts.
Claire Webb, Radio Times, 3rd September 2013
The first series of Jack Whitehall's "newly qualified teacher" sitcom was the highest-rated comedy in BBC3 history, so naturally it was commissioned for a second. In this opener, Abbey Grove is holding its annual swimming gala, and in a direct homage to ITV's Splash, it closes with a special synchronised diving competition. Elsewhere, Miss Gulliver reveals a new lover, and it's not Alfie. The jokes are pretty thin; you'd do better waiting for Whitehall's return as posh "ledge" JP in Channel 4's Fresh Meat later this year.
Bim Adewunmi, The Guardian, 3rd September 2013
Jack Whitehall has said the new series of his sitcom Bad Education will feature a Breaking Bad-esque scene as his character Alfie attempts to make drugs with his pupils.
Speaking about the second season of the hit BBC Three show, Whitehall revealed that there is plenty of nudity and drug-taking for viewers to enjoy in the new series. 'There's some nudity in this... there's actually quite a lot of toplessness!' the comedian said.
'The other day we filmed a big sequence where Alfie cooks up drugs with his class - à la Breaking Bad - but then ends up consuming some of the drugs. We do a scene where I'm tripping out and... I got completely f**king mad! I end up losing some of my clothes and losing a lot of my dignity.
'When I was at school, I got caught being drawn naked by my friend. It was like Titanic - except my friend wanted to draw a girl and the girl would only let him draw her if I agreed to let him draw me first - so that it was an art project rather than just... perverts drawing people!
'I was complicit in it - I was his wingman and took it for the team. The irony was we got caught by our teachers halfway through so she never got naked...'
The first episode of Bad Education, which aired on iPlayer last week, featured a naked Alfie being humiliated in front of teachers and pupils after a sychronised diving competition went badly wrong.
Metro, 2nd September 2013
The second series of Jack Whitehall's crazy popular Bad Education has been available on iPlayer for a while now, but you know what, we're TV purists and have decided it's worth waiting to see it premiere in all its glory on the big(ger) screen. Keep your laptops and your smart telephone android things, youths!
That wait is finally over this week when the comedian's bumbling teacher Alfie Wickers, who's now sporting a retro bowl cut, kicks off a new term by bribing his long-suffering class into taking part in a swimming gala organised by clueless headmaster Fraser (Mathew Horne) after taking a bet from the terrifying Miss Pickwell (Michelle Gomez). Oh blimey, there's surely only one way this can be heading... Jack Whitehall in Speedos.
Daniel Sperling, Digital Spy, 1st September 2013
It receives its TV debut on Tuesday, but those looking to catch Jack Whitehall's classroom comedy early can watch it on iPlayer, as part of BBC Three's quietly revolutionary policy of premiering all of its comedy online. Bad Education's still not essential by any stretch, but Whitehall's impudent presence, not to mention that of the always-great Michelle Gomez, means that it remains watchable.
Gwilym Mumford, The Guardian, 31st August 2013
If Bad Education was a child, it would be one of those bright but infuriating kids with ADHD who fly around the room never quite settling at anything. One whose moments of brilliance are punctuated by tiring bouts of 'look at me, look at me' daftness.
At least Jack Whitehall's comedy - debuting on BBC iPlayer - feels like it's taking place in the 21st century unlike David Walliams and his oddly dated Big School. Whitehall's hopeless goon of a teacher, Alfie Wickers, one of those types who wants to be mates with the kids rather than, you know, actually teaching them anything, feels absolutely in tune with the way education is going.
And, in-between descending into cringe-making farce, Whitehall mines comedy gold from potshots at Mumford & Sons ('you're too young to appreciate a good dinner-party anthem when you hear one') and his ill-fated efforts at convincing colleague Miss Gulliver of his boyish charms. Efforts not entirely dissuaded by her admission that she bats for the other team.
'I am angry and aroused and upset,' was his reaction to her sudden conversion to lesbianism. 'But mostly aroused.' When he's dishing out the banter, Whitehall is a sharp writer. But a lot of Bad Education flails around in the shallow end of physical comedy, with extended sequences at a swimming gala failing to make much of a splash.
That said, it did allow the somewhat niche delight of watching Mathew Horne's head (teacher) attempting to break in a pair of Speedos and Whitehall streaking around the corridors, blinded by a horror-movie spin on a chlorine allergy that made him look like a Doctor Who alien. It was high on energy but low on subtlety, driven by the false assumption that physical freakiness is so funny it requires no other target.
Whitehall should ditch the slapstick and stick to the staff and classroom sniping. Because when he does it's A*. Otherwise, it's an epic fail.
Keith Watson, Metro, 28th August 2013
Jack Whitehall interview
Jack Whitehall discusses the second series of Bad Education.
Written by Elliot Gonzalez. I Talk Telly, 27th August 2013
BBC Three is launching all its new scripted comedy online ahead of being broadcast on ye olde-fashioned telly.
First new kid out of the block is the second series of Jack Whitehall's school room farce, available tonight a week ahead of its official BBC Three premiere.
Whitehall's character, Alfie Wickers, is still a tragic plonker, getting his trunks in a twist at the school swimming gala and fantasising over his imaginary relationship with foxy Miss Gulliver (the excellent Sarah Solemani).
All that, though, is trumped by Mathew Horne's 'down with the kids' headmaster and his extraordinary barnet, a triumph of dodgy coiffing if ever there was one.
Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 27th August 2013
TV preview: Bad Education, BBC3
Out of Bad Education and Big School so far Bad Education easily tops the league, passing with flying colours when it comes to laugh-count, which is what you really want in a sitcom after all.
Written by Bruce Dessau. Beyond the Joke, 26th August 2013
Jack Whitehall's Bad Education ended as it began, a baffling mix of great lines ('Pol Pot and Paul Potts, I always get those two mixed up') and misfiring scenes even Waterloo Road would have thought twice about. Still, it's worth a second term, if only to find out who's living in Mathew Horne's hair.
Keith Watson, Metro, 19th September 2012
Everyone is on the campaign trail in this final episode of a series that never quite lived up to its potential. Jack Whitehall's slacker teacher wants one of his miscreants to thwart a junior politician-in-the-making for the job of school president, while Fraser (Mat Horne) campaigns to get his job back after a misdemeanour in the exam hall sees him suspended - much to the undisguised, flared-nostrilled glee of Michelle Gomez's evil Miss Pickwell.
Sharon Lougher, Metro, 18th September 2012
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