Bad Education - In The Press

Jack Whitehall has said that he will have to make some changes to his BBC comedy Bad Education following this week's cabinet reshuffle.

Written by Harry Fletcher. Digital Spy, 18th July 2014

Jack Whitehall, who will star in An American Education for ABC, and told Digital Spy that the script by Peter Huyck and Alex Gregory had not "butchered" the BBC show.

Written by Morgan Jeffery and Daniel Sperling. Digital Spy, 21st February 2014

Bad Education's Christmas special saw Alfie Wickers facing another big problem, as he'd been tasked by the headmaster (Matthew Horne) to direct the school play or face being sacked by the governors. Inevitably his ramshackle group of students are roped in to be the stars of the show with Stephen (Layton Williams) being the only one with any discernible talent to speak of. Alfie is then shocked when school bully Frank (Jack Bence) auditions for his production and delivers an incredibly awful audition. But because Alfie is incredibly scared of Frank he casts him as the human lead opposite Stephen in his original production Robocracker a combination of Robocop and The Nutcracker.

Elsewhere, Alfie is attempting to impress Miss Guilver (Sarah Solemani) by volunteering at a soup kitchen where his class are insulted by a mouthy tramp (played by Whitehall's Fresh Meat colleague Greg McHugh).

Right at the start of the Bad Education Christmas Special, Horne and Whitehall warn us that festive editions of shows are often sloppily written with a loose seasonal feel. I would say that was true of Bad Education to an extent as it just didn't have the energy the sitcom normally possesses. The funniest moments were provided by Steven, whether it be his one-man production of Precious or his performance in the incredibly entertaining Robocracker.

Overall, while I can't say I wasn't entertained, I just expect a little bit more from Whitehall and his class of talented young actors.

The Custard TV, 24th December 2013

Yes, it sent up teachers convinced they're the next Terence Rattigan, with Alfie writing a multi-faith mash-up of Robocop and The Nutcracker. But that was about as satirical as it got. Whitehall's script relied once more on toilet humour and tired, tasteless digs at 'the fat kid', 'the kid in the wheelchair' (who is given Twister for Christmas) and the homeless.

Written by Lucinda Everett. The Daily Telegraph, 18th December 2013

The ubiquitous Jack Whitehall wrote and stars in this school-based comedy, back for a badly behaved Christmas special. Fed up with the nativity, his hapless history teacher invents a new festive story, a cross between Robocop and Nutcracker: Robocracker.

Sitcom staple Sarah Solemani plays the altruistic art teacher, while Mathew Horne sports an elf costume as the immature headmaster fond of tragic puns ("Snow-k?" "Yes sir, yours-elf?") Look out for Greg McHugh, Whitehall's co-star in Fresh Meat, as an expletive-spewing tramp.

Claire Webb, The Radio Times, 17th December 2013

This is one of those shows that looks like it was filmed in the blazing heat of the British summer with the cast sweltering in their winter woolies as they get up to their usual mischief, with a bit of soppy sentimentality lobbed in for good measure like a lucky sixpence in a Christmas pud.

Written by Bruce Dessau. Beyond the Joke, 17th December 2013

With a glut of costumes, Christmas songs and festive trappings, the Bad Education Christmas special is far from an understated affair. Forced to put on a play by elf/headmaster Simon (Mat Horne), the reluctant but unfazed Alfie (Jack Whitehall) must use the questionable student talent at his disposal to stage a story which incorporates every major world religion.

Sensitivity and subtlety not being Alfie's fortes, the Robocop- Nutcracker hybrid that he creates isn't exactly traditional Christmas fare. Silly, fun and light-hearted, Bad Education is patchy and seldom cerebral, but it still makes for an entertaining half-hour. Filled with puns, cultural references, extravagant dance routines and displaying a distinct lack of either taste or tact, it's a gaudy smorgasbord of verbal and physical comedy. Even the most committed of scrooges may find this raises a smile.

Dylan Lucas, Time Out, 17th December 2013

Jack Whitehall, fresh from retaining his crown as King of Comedy, takes a crack at that old favourite, the school nativity play, with the help of his Bad Education reprobates. A somewhat uneasy marriage of Robocop and The Nutcracker, teacher Alfie's ambitious production finds room for tolerance channelled through the medium of expressive dance, guest turns from Frances Barber as Alfie's mum and Howard from Fresh Meat (Greg McHugh) as a thespian tramp, and no shortage of near-the-knuckle humour. Not forgetting some clinches with no need of mistletoe to pack some heat.

Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 17th December 2013

With Jack Whitehall due to reprise his role as the toffish, self-deprecating teacher in a US pilot next year, Alfie Wickers is arguably one of the most successful characters in Brit comedy today. This seasonal outing of the sitcom is a triumph of awkwardness, as Alfie combines RoboCop and The Nutcracker for the school play. There's even a role for bully Frank, who shows his sensitive side. Meanwhile, headteacher Fraser tries to organise a Christmas miracle: a reunion between the hapless Mr Wickers and his estranged mother.

Hannah J Davies, The Guardian, 17th December 2013

The Nutcracker is a delightful festive tale, but wouldn't it be better if it were more like Robocop? Mat Horne's deranged wordplay-loving headmaster certainly thinks so, and it's up to Jack Whitehall's bumbling educator Alfie Wickers to make his vision a reality.

While bonkers school play Robocracker is the focus of the Bad Education Christmas special, there's plenty more going on in the halls of Abbey Grove, as Mitchell (Charlie Wernham) attempts to get Alfie's estranged mother back from Spain for the holidays and Miss Gulliver (Sarah Solemani) encourages her class to volunteer at a soup kitchen, making way for a guest appearance by Whitehall's Fresh Meat co-star Greg McHugh as a foul-mouthed hobo.

Daniel Sperling, Digital Spy, 15th December 2013

Having won the top gong at The British Comedy Awards for the second year running Jack Whitehall has now set his sights on cracking America.

The Daily Express, 14th December 2013

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

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, stealing slang from teenagers and finding comedy in schools.

Written by Ellie Walker-Arnott. The Radio Times, 3rd September 2013

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, 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

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