Bad Education. Alfie (Jack Whitehall). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions.

Bad Education

BBC Three sitcom about a bad teacher. 19 episodes (3 series), 2012 - 2014. Stars Jack Whitehall, Mathew Horne, Sarah Solemani, Layton Williams and others.

Bad Education's girls interview

Bad Education. Image shows from L to R: Cleopatra (Weruche Opia), Jing (Kae Alexander), Chantelle (Nikki Runeckles). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions.Nikki Runeckles (Chantelle), Kae Alexander (Jing) and Weruche Opia (new character Cleopatra) discuss Bad Education Series 3.

This is your last year, isn't it? How does it feel to be graduating and leaving Abbey Grove?

Nikki: It is really sad. We got a bit tearful the other day as we filmed the scene where we leave and say goodbye to Alfie. It's really emotional!

What sort of scrapes can we expect in Series 3?

Kae: There's been a little bit of progression with some of the characters, now it's coming to the end. For example, Jing has got into philosophy so she's become even nerdier, but in a kind of cool way, I guess. She's a bit looser, she's into writing. We've all evolved a little bit.

Nikki: Chantelle is studying hard this year because she wants to get her exams. She's realised she can't get into beauty school without her GCSEs!

Have you found that bits of your own talents or personality have been taken on board and written into the characters?

Kae: Yeah, definitely. Especially with Layton Williams' character [Stephen], his own references are chipping in because he's such a brilliant personality anyway.

Nikki: Often you'll do something, you'll just be talking to Jack or Freddie [the writers], and they'll be like "Do that!" and you're going "No, that's me!"

Do you get recognised? You're now in your twenties, do people think you're schoolgirls and shouldn't be in the pub?

Kae: I don't really get recognised often. I think it's because I wear glasses and I don't wear uniform! So they're like "Oh wow, you look so different." What about you, Nikki?

Nikki: Yeah, I suppose I do, and people are like "Oh. You're older..." They're expecting me to be "Hello!!" A lot of people are surprised by it, they expect you to be about 16. It's weird.

Bad Education. Image shows from L to R: Miss Gulliver (Sarah Solemani), Cleopatra (Weruche Opia). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions.

Weruche, how does your character - new girl Cleopatra - fit into it?

Weruche: Well, she's quite feisty, which is nice! She comes in with a bang. But she does fit in with the rest of the class. Everyone's got their own personalities, but the class is so erratic she does fit right in with the craziness!

Nikki: It must've been really hard for you coming in, but we've really bonded so well.

Weruche: Yeah, I watched the first two series and thought it was amazing, so coming in I was like - well, I'm not a kid anymore so, school uniforms! And then people on set call for 'the kids' to be in the classroom: we're adults! But no, it's been brilliant. Everyone's been really welcoming and I haven't felt like a sore thumb at all.

How does Alfie treat her?

Weruche: I think he's scared of her! He tries hard not to get on her bad side. Because she's very feisty, she has a response for everything. When he speaks, she's straight at him. She keeps him on his toes.

Who do you find to be fans of the show? You'd have thought it'd be largely younger people but it seems that there are a lot of older viewers who love it too?

Nikki: A lot of mums and dads I know really like the show, which is definitely weird because you do expect it to be schoolchildren. And also people who are really young and you think "Really? Aren't you TOO young to watch it?"

Weruche: Yeah I think it's got a really huge audience, because sometimes we're filming and we have young kids coming up...

Kae: They're like 11 or 12...

Weruche: Yeah, you think, "You shouldn't be watching this!" But then you have them as young as that kind of age, and then you also have adults. I think it's quite amazing it's been able to go across that whole audience.

What catchphrases are most often repeated back to you by fans?

All three: Hmmmmmm...!

Bad Education. Image shows from L to R: Mitchell (Charlie Wernham), Stephen (Layton Williams), Alfie (Jack Whitehall), Chantelle (Nikki Runeckles), Miss Gulliver (Sarah Solemani), Fraser (Mathew Horne), Joe (Ethan Lawrence), Rem Dogg (Jack Binstead), Jing (Kae Alexander). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions.

Nikki: Well I get a lot of "Are you really a slut?" and "Are you fifteen?" because in the first series I think I did mention something about being a slut and 15. So people do keep asking me.

Kae: I get the same sort of thing, "Are you really that clever?" Definitely not! Weird, how they ask you that.

How strange is it to be putting on a school uniform in the morning again?

Kae: It's THE weirdest feeling ever.

Nikki: It doesn't feel very nice! I didn't like school so it's like... it brings back bad memories.

Weruche: It's really weird for me too. I hadn't worn a school uniform in a long time and I remember the first day on set, I was like "I can't do this..." It was so strange just looking at myself in the mirror! And when you put the uniform on, you strangely start to act like a kid. It's like it has powers, straight away. It's really strange.

Nikki: You can't help it, can you?

How does Bad Education compare to your own school days?

Nikki: It's very different!

Kae: It's quite similar; I went to quite a crazy school.

Nikki: Really?!

Kae: Yeah! There were like, fights, people stabbing people with compasses. A really rough state school.

Nikki: I went to an all-girls' school so just having boys in the class is kind of a thing for me!

Weruche: That's like me as well. I went to a Catholic all-girls' school so it is quite extreme from what I was used to!

Just how much more studious is Jing than you, Kae?

Kae: I'm not very studious at all - hence I'm acting! I just couldn't sit still at all. It's really nice to play a character so different to me though. Freddy [Syborn, co-writer] is incredibly intelligent; some of the lines I really had to study, some of the philosopher's I've never even heard of. It's great to get deep into a character who's so different from you.

Bad Education. Image shows from L to R: Miss Gulliver (Sarah Solemani), Stephen (Layton Williams), Jing (Kae Alexander). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions.

Is the breaking into occasional Chinese rants easy or difficult? Are you fluent?

Kae: You know what, I really enjoy doing those lines. It's just different, playing with a different rhythm with the two languages. But I don't really get to speak much this year! So..

Nikki: Much Chinese; you do speak!

Kae: Ha, yeah, much Mandarin lines. Yeah, I think we've swapped the Chinese for philosophical quotes instead, which is quite an interesting twist.

Who would write those lines? Are Jack and Freddy fluent in Mandarin?

Kae: No! They'd be like "Oh Kae, can you read this line" - and then I'd have to phone my friend who's more fluent than me and ask how you say the line! They write it in English.

Are you all on Twitter? Do you get a lot of interaction when the show's going out?

Nikki: Yeah, lots. It's really nice actually. When I first did this, I had like 10 followers I think, and within minutes of the show finishing it'd gone up to thousands! It's really nice people appreciate it and follow you. They want to know what you're doing. It's really nice.

Do you have a favourite moment from this series?

Kae: Ooh, loads! Just this morning we did a scene where Jack comes in and he's trying to be cool, pretending to be like Coolio. It was hilarious.

Weruche: We kept cracking up. Luckily we were allowed to laugh. If we'd been asked to be silent it just wouldn't have worked because it was truly hilarious.

Kae: He's so funny. It's going to look amazing.

Nikki: I really liked the prom episode. Because ... we get to look pretty! It is really nice though.

Kae: You looked amazing!

Nikki: Thank you!

Is there a corpsing problem on set? Who goes first?

Nikki: Yes! I've got to say that me and Layton are really bad. The thing is, when everyone's on a tight schedule people are like "Come on now" because you're holding them up. So you can't do it too much as it's so annoying. But once it starts we all go.

Jing was Alfie's biggest critic in Series 1, but warming to him a little in Series 2. Is she a bit more on his side at this point?

Kae: Yes a bit more so I guess. We've got Cleo now who challenges him again. Jing's ... sort of, a bit of both I guess. But really into her writing and her books and philosophy. I really like the warmth Form K has for Alfie. It's so nice. Although we criticise him and cause trouble, we're always on his side.

Nikki: That really comes out more in this series as well.

Kae: I guess Jing becomes the one who helps him out toward the end. It's lovely.

Bad Education. Image shows from L to R: Miss Gulliver (Sarah Solemani), Cleopatra (Weruche Opia), Rem Dogg (Jack Binstead), Chantelle (Nikki Runeckles), Stephen (Layton Williams), Alfie (Jack Whitehall), Grayson (Jack Bence), Joe (Ethan Lawrence), Jing (Kae Alexander). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions.

How does it feel to be leaving the series behind then, going onto new things?

Kae: It's exciting, it's been really great. We became sort of like a family because it's so intense. We're in every day, so it's also sad.

Weruche: I feel like I've missed out on quite a bit, coming in at the end. They've all been really nice but everyone's like a family from the past however many years they've been doing it, and I'm here for just a little time. So I'm going to be quite sad when it's done, although it'll be something I remember forever. I'm glad I got a bit of it!

Nikki: I think we'll probably stay in touch though!

How's it been for you as young actors working not just with Mathew Horne and Sarah Solemani, but now the likes of Harry Enfield as well?

Nikki: It's been really, really, really nice. A lot of the time when you're just standing by on set, you get to have good talks and seek and advice and stuff. Really nice.

Weruche: Definitely, I agree. Obviously meeting everyone for the first time I was like "Wooahh ... this is ... quite cool. Talking to all these people." and obviously they interact and having them see you working and being like "Oh that's quite good" is really appreciated.

What sort of advice has Harry been giving out?

Nikki: Ooh I'm not sure we could tell you that! But it's more like, watching him work.

Kae: He's so playful. He's constantly changing it and always suggesting new ideas. He's like a child, it's incredible, it's so fun to be around him.

Weruche: It's very encouraging, watching them, seeing how they are, how seriously they take the art. It's very encouraging for us as younger people trying to be like they are and stay in the industry as long as they have been.

More Bad Education interviews

Published: Monday 15th September 2014