Big School
First series titlecard
GenreSitcom
Created byDavid Walliams
Written byDavid Walliams
Dawson Bros.
Directed byTony Dow (2013)
Matt Lipsey (2014)
StarringDavid Walliams
Catherine Tate
Philip Glenister
Frances de la Tour
Joanna Scanlan
Daniel Rigby
Steve Speirs
Jocelyn Jee Esien
ComposersDavid Arnold
Michael Price
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes12 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producerMark Freeland
ProducerJo Sargent
Production locationSalisbury
Running time30 minutes
Production companiesKing Bert Productions
BBC
DistributorBBC Worldwide
Release
Original networkBBC One
Picture format16:9
Audio formatStereo
Original release16 August 2013 (2013-08-16) –
10 October 2014 (2014-10-10)

Big School is a British sitcom, starring David Walliams, Catherine Tate, Steve Speirs, Frances de la Tour, Joanna Scanlan and Philip Glenister. It is set in a secondary school and follows the comedic relationships of the teachers.[1] The first series began airing on BBC One on 16 August 2013,[2] and was met with polarised reviews. The final episode of the first series aired on 20 September 2013. On 2 December 2013, BBC One controller Charlotte Moore announced that Big School had been renewed for a second and final series, which concluded on 10 October 2014.[3] In June 2015, it was officially announced that Big School would not be returning for a third series.[4]

Plot

The series follows Keith Church (David Walliams), a socially naive chemistry teacher at the fictional Greybridge Secondary School, near Watford, who falls for new French teacher Sarah Postern (Catherine Tate), who believes herself to be an inspirational teacher, in tune with youth culture and a beautiful woman. However, she is also getting attention from the arrogant and rude sports teacher Trevor Gunn (Philip Glenister). Other staff members include Ms Baron (Frances de la Tour) as the alcoholic 'no nonsense' headteacher, Mr Martin (Daniel Rigby), a music teacher with ambitions to be a singer-songwriter, Mr Barber (Steve Speirs), a geography teacher who is having a nervous breakdown and is employed as a caretaker in the second series and Mr Hubble (James Greene), the elderly and unwell head of science. The pupils at the school are portrayed as being mainly interested in social networking, texting and partying and as being bored by the attempts of Mr Church and Miss Postern to engage with them. The most prominent of them in the first series is a streetwise pupil called Manyou, played by Joivan Wade, who is asked for advice on how to succeed with women by Mr Church.[5]

Production

The show was written by David Walliams (who had previously produced Little Britain), along with Dawson Bros., and directed by Tony Dow.[6] Many scenes for the series were shot at Bishopshalt School, Hillingdon, West London.[1] The pupils gave up their school holidays to come to the school and be extras.[7] Other inside shots were filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.[8] The titles were scrapped in Series 2 and were replaced by simple text at the centre of the screen.

Cast

Actor Character Profession Duration Year
David Walliams Mr Keith Church Deputy Head of Science (2013–14)
Head of Science (2014)
1x01–2x06 2013–14
Catherine Tate Miss Sarah Postern French Teacher 1x01–2x06 2013–14
Philip Glenister Mr Trevor Gunn PE Teacher
Geography Teacher (2014)
1x01–2x06 2013–14
Steve Speirs Mr Gareth Barber Geography Teacher (2013, 2014)
Caretaker (2014)
1x01–2x06 2013–14
Joanna Scanlan Mrs Janine Klebb Drama Teacher 1x01–2x04 2013–14
Frances de la Tour Ms Margaret Baron Headmistress 1x01–2x06 2013–14
Jocelyn Jee Esien Daphne Secretary 1x01–2x06 2013–14
Daniel Rigby Mr Luke Martin Music Teacher 1x01–2x05 2013–14
James Greene Mr. John Hubble Head of Science 1x01–2x05 2013–14
Matthew Fenton Nicholas Pupil 1x01–2x06 2013–14
Cheryl Fergison Jo Lab Assistant 2x01–2x06 2014
Julie T. Wallace Pat Carrington Lab Assistant 1x01–1x06 2013
Joivan Wade[9] Manyou Pupil 1x01–1x06 2013
Georgia Thompson Beyoncé Pupil 1x01–1x06 2013
Carla Ryan Tina Pupil 1x01–1x06 2013
Connor Goodliff Ryan Pupil 2x04-2x06 2014

Guest characters

Character Actor Profession Duration Year
Mr. Rupesh Kulvinder Ghir Bus Driver 1x06 2013
Fenella Forbes Morgana Robinson Author 2x01 2014
Dr. Dalton Jimmy Akingbola Geography Teacher 2x02 2014
Trish Karen Taylor N/A 2x03 2014
Ms Steele Sylvestra Le Touzel Ofsted Inspector 2x04 2014
Dean Jack Carroll Pupil 2x05 2014
Rita Gunn Michele Dotrice Retired (presumed) 2x06 2014

Episodes

Series overview

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1616 August 2013 (2013-08-16)20 September 2013 (2013-09-20)
2629 August 2014 (2014-08-29)10 October 2014 (2014-10-10)

Series 1 (2013)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [10]
11"Episode 1"Tony DowDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.16 August 2013 (2013-08-16)5.28
Mr Keith Church decides it's his time to leave the school as none of his pupils seem interested, but the arrival of a new, young, French teacher Sarah Postern has him change his mind; however, the new teacher is catching the eye of all the staff. Meanwhile, the pupils decide to play a prank on Mr Barber, with a slightly imaginative picture.
22"Episode 2"Tony DowDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.23 August 2013 (2013-08-23)4.50
The school decides to hold a staff talent show; however, some of the staff's 'talents' are not as amazing as hoped. Keith decides that if he performs with Sarah they may get 'closer'. Meanwhile, the students decide to play judge, giving the best Simon Cowell impression they can muster when commenting on the quality of the teachers acts.
33"Episode 3"Tony DowDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.30 August 2013 (2013-08-30)3.68
Sarah is landed with running the draughts club and suggests merging with Keith's chess club, creating the school's first 'chaughts' club. She goes to his place to discuss a merger and watch Strictly, but Keith is about to regret his first attempt at social networking. Meanwhile, a drugs scandal looms when gym teacher Trevor Gunn is seen with a dealer.
44"Episode 4"Tony DowDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.6 September 2013 (2013-09-06)2.89
Sarah warns the other teachers to be careful around troubled student Josh, whose mother has run off and divorced his father whilst on holiday in Kenya to fall in love with a Masai tribesman. Keith is fired from the job as theatre critic for the school, and so Sarah has to watch Mrs Klebb's production of "Juliet & Romeo", taking Josh's dad with her. Could Keith be... jealous?
55"Episode 5"Tony DowDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.13 September 2013 (2013-09-13)2.93
Sarah puts herself down for an Ironman competition, but realises all too late what is involved. Trevor offers to help her train, and Keith tags along, taking an unusual interest in PE suddenly. Mrs Klebb tries to stop violence at school, but the teachers aren't listening. Meanwhile, Mr Barber has taught the wrong Geography course.
66"Episode 6"Tony DowDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.20 September 2013 (2013-09-20)3.85
Keith bargains his way onto Sarah's school trip to France, and events on tour do not go as planned for the staff.

Series 2 (2014)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [10]
71"Episode 1"Matt LipseyDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.29 August 2014 (2014-08-29)2.90
When Miss Postern sets up a careers workshop, it seems her 'Which Way Now?' slogan applies as much to her as it does her pupils.
82"Episode 2"Matt LipseyDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.5 September 2014 (2014-09-05)2.60
It's Miss Postern's birthday and she is upset when everyone forgets. But the arrival of a new teacher (who just happens to be blind) changes everything and puts her day into a different light. Mr Church and Mr Gunn hear this news and are not happy about it.
93"Episode 3"Matt LipseyDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.12 September 2014 (2014-09-12)2.30
It's parents' evening and all the staff want to make sure it is over before the new episode of 'Great British Bake Off'. Mr Gunn thinks that he has a secret child at the school, and sets out to make his days as fun as possible. Miss Postern struggles to stop people looking at her cleavage and is told by Ms Baron (who tries to avoid the event all together) that she is a "Parisian prostitute".
104"Episode 4"Matt LipseyDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.19 September 2014 (2014-09-19)2.60
When Ofsted arrive to conduct an impromptu inspection, Greybridge School is thrown into even more chaos than usual.
115"Episode 5"Matt LipseyDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.3 October 2014 (2014-10-03)2.40
The staff celebrate when Mr Hubble chalks up 40 years of service at Greybridge School—although no sooner has he accepted his gift, he drops dead without anyone realising. When Mr Gunn and Mr Church finally cotton on, it's left to the bumbling duo to get the body out of the school before anyone else notices. Meanwhile, Miss Postern has a new poster boy for her anti-bullying campaign—a disabled boy who was moved from his last school because of intimidation. But the well-meaning French teacher soon discovers nothing is as it seems.
126"Episode 6"Matt LipseyDavid Walliams & Dawson Bros.10 October 2014 (2014-10-10)N/A
A homeless Mr Barber spends the night in the school, only for disaster to strike when he causes a fire in Miss Postern's classroom. It falls on the reluctant Mr Gunn to put a roof over his head. The disaster is good news for Mr Church, as Miss Postern moves into his laboratory while her room is redecorated—but they soon find sharing doesn't come naturally.

Overnight ratings are not official and do not include views on BBC iPlayer, BBC HD or recorded catch-up services. They are just a note of the number of viewers on the BBC channel at the time of airing, and therefore are not an accurate representation. Official accurate figures are released 10 days after original transmission by BARB.

Reception

The series was met with mixed feedback. Dan Owen of MSN described it as "An amusing and pleasant way to spend 30 minutes",[11] and The Guardian said of Walliams: "This performance, and his writing, gives the show good jokes and heart."

There was negative feedback to the opening of the series, with The Daily Telegraph stating: "A bit tired, perhaps, the school thing, but surely a straightforward setting for a sitcom" before concluding "Let's just put it this way: amusing it was not. Mission aborted."[12] MSN UK said, "Like most BBC comedies aiming to please mass audiences, there were plenty of moments that didn't work, but the writing avoided being outright terrible. A family show like this (even one inexplicably broadcast post-watershed) simply can't please everyone all the time".[11]

The series opened to 4.2m viewers. The second instalment scored 3.63m (17.4%) for BBC One, making it the most watched programme of prime time outside of the soaps and news for the night.

DVD release

The first series of Big School was released on DVD on 23 September 2013.[13]

The second and final series was released on DVD on 13 October 2014.[14]

References

  1. ^ a b "Remains of the school day: David Walliams and Catherine Tate in Big School - Features - TV & Radio - The Independent". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ "BBC One Sets Premiere Date For 'Big School' - TVWise". tvwise.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  3. ^ "David Walliams comedy Big School gets second series on BBC One - TV News - Digital Spy". digitalspy.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  4. ^ Nicola Methven (7 July 2015). "David Walliams to write new sketch show 10 years after Little Britain ended". mirror.
  5. ^ "Big School at BBC Media Centre". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Big School - Production Details & Cast and Crew - British Comedy Guide". comedy.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  7. ^ "BBC One - Big School, Series 1 - Interview with Catherine Tate". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Big School Information". Philipglenisterfans. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  9. ^ "BBC One - Big School, Series 1, Episode 2". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Weekly Viewing Summary (see relevant week)". BARB.
  11. ^ a b "Big School: decent David Walliams and Catherine Tate sitcom". tv.uk.msn.com. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  12. ^ "Big School, BBC One, review - Telegraph". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Big School - Series 1 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Big School - Series 2 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2014.