DVD review: Bad Education Series 3

Bad Education S3 DVD

BBC Worldwide

Release date: 31st August 2015

Starring: Jack Whitehall, Matthew Horne, Sarah Solemani, Harry Enfield, James Fleet, Harry Peacock

Bad Education is currently following the likes of Alan Partridge, The Inbetweeners and (ahem) On The Buses in moving from the small to the big screen. What better time then, than to revisit the final series of Jack Whitehall’s school-based sitcom first broadcast on the now doomed BBC Three in 2014?

Little has changed at Abbey Grove as the incompetent History teacher Alfie Wickers (Whitehall) embarks on a new term. Eccentric head teacher and self proclaimed “succeed-o-phile” Fraser (Horne) is now sporting a Peter Andre style haircut, there’s a new sassy kid in class (Cleo played by Weruche Opia) but Alfie is still pining for Miss Gulliver (Solemani) as before. However, his embarrassingly sex-obsessed father (Enfield) ha s now been rather improbably appointed deputy headmaster, much to Alfie’s horror and his whole career as a teacher is soon thrown into doubt.

As usual, there’s good stuff here, an excellent extended silent sequence during the “Exam” episode featuring Roger Allam and cameos throughout from the likes of Cardinal Burns, James “Vicar of Dibley” Fleet and Harry “Toast of London” Peacock. On the other hand, the series remains patchy and the final episodes become annoying over-sentimental and indeed, bearing in mind, Whithhall is a co-writer, incredibly over-adulatory towards Whitehall’s character as the end nears.

Bad Education has enjoyed a good run but the final episode is only the 19th of a moderately successful sitcom which has formed an at best very minor role in most of our lives and which has returned in film form already. It is doubtful many viewers will feel as emotionally involved as the over-sentimental finale expects us to.

Still, this remains enjoyable stuff.

Bad Education Series 2 DVD review

School-based comedy series have a somewhat hit and miss reputation as anyone who has seen Teachers or the more recent David Walliams/Catherine Tate sitcom Big School will agree. But while not exactly disproving this rule, BBC Three’s relentlessly hip sitcom Bad Education is well worth skipping homework for.
Jack Whitehall returns as Alfie Wickers, the incompetent History teacher at Abbey Grove Comprehensive. Constantly undermined by his desperate attempts to pursue a romantic liaison with fellow teacher Rosie Gulliver (played by the excellent Solemani, star of Him & Her and The Wrong Mans) as well as by the simple fact that he is only slightly older than the pupils he is supposed to be teaching, Alfie faces challenges old and new in this second series (which includes a Christmas Special) first screened last year.
Matthew Horne’s desperately trendy Head is still a fun and the supporting cast who include the brilliant Michelle Gomez as icy deputy Izzy Pickwell remain strong. New developments in this series include a disastrous school charity swimming gala, an unwanted teen pregnancy, the arrival of a popular new American teacher and the incredibly embarrassing prospect for Alfie of a middle aged romance developing between Alfie’s father (Harry Enfield) and new staff member (Samantha Spiro of Grandma’s House).
Released just in time for the current BBC Three run of the show’s third series, this will leave some of us pining of the return of Jack Whitehall’s other (better) sitcom Fresh Meat, currently in limbo since the end of its own third series. But in the meantime, Bad Education is still a welcome distraction.

Bad Education Series 2 DVD review
BBC Worldwide
Starring: Jack Whitehall, Matthew Horne, Sarah Solemani, Harry Enfield, Michelle Gomez, Samantha Spiro

BBC Three: RIP?

The news that the TV channel BBC Three will exist solely as an online entity as of autumn 2015, struck a damaging hammer blow to the nation’s psyche last week. “Will life be worth living if Snog, Marry Avoid?  is told to “POD off” forever?” many wondered. Others contemplated a world without Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. Would the living come to envy the dead?

Yet snootiness aside, many questions are raised by the imminent demise of the only specifically youth-orientated TV channel in the UK. For one thing: what will be BBC Four be called now? Will it now become the new BBC Three? The potential for confusion is endless.  Another question persists: How will British viewers get to watchFamily Guy now? And, more pertinently, how precisely does BBC Three save money by going online? Surely it is the production of TV programmes, not the fact that they are broadcast on TV, which incurs by far the greatest sum of the costs? How does switching all of the content online save serious money?

More seriously, this is a shame, simply because while it is all too easy to deride much of its content, BBC Three has built up a good record for launching new comedy in the last decade. Both Little Britain and Gavin & Stacey first appeared on BBC Three and became among the biggest British TV comedy hits of the last ten years. Both ultimately transferred to BBC One, where it must be said, their lustre rather faded over each of their three series. But their early freshest TV episodes appeared on BBC Three, (Little Britain, it should be said, technically first appearing on Radio 4).

Nor is it by any means clear that BBC Three’s best days, comedy or otherwise, is necessarily in the past. Him & HerCuckooBad EducationPramfaceUncle and Russell Howard’s Good News have all been typical of BBC Three’s recent comedy output.

In 2010, similar plans to close the BBC radio channel 6 Music were abandoned after a popular outcry. I hope something similar will occur with BBC Three. Leaving aside the issue of whether going online really suggests the “living death” that it initially appears to suggest, with Sky1 already yapping at the BBC’s heels in the comedy output stakes, can the Beeb really afford to do away with BBC Three? For if BBC Three is not there to “feed our funny,” viewers will surely someone else who will.