Bad Education: Giving Alfie our worst characteristics


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Jack Whitehall and I have written together since school, though the first time we spoke, we ended up having a fight.

In fact, Jack is the only person I’ve ever punched. And even then it was only once, despite the fact that we’ve spent months trapped in a cupboard together, writing Bad Education.

Alfie Wickers (Jack Whitehall) is back at school

Jack did nearly punch me recently. I beat him at FIFA at my birthday party, playing right there on the dance floor ie in my front room.

Uncool, but that’s the schoolboy streak in our relationship. (I instantly regret using the phrase ‘schoolboy streak’.)

Though put a schoolboy on a dance floor and off he goes, clumsily flirting, throwing some (bad) shapes, being rejected, then vomiting into a shoe.

Not us. We just want to score points off each other.

With Bad Education, Jack and I give our worst characteristics to Alfie in a competitive way.

For instance, Jack thinks that I’m obsessed with ‘long’ books like Harry Potter. (Yes, I’m a Pot-Head.)

And so Alfie becomes a fantasy geek and we laugh at how dorky he is. By which I mean, at how dorky I am. Jack 1, me 0.

Then we write a scene in which Jack is naked and horrifically blotchy. No goal-line technology required: Jack 1, me 1.

And it’s this spiteful spiral that’s turned Alfie into an even more inadequate, tragic little man in the second series.

Alfie and Joe (Ethan Lawrence) sport matching trendy haircuts

Jack and I are also amazingly lucky to write for actors like Sarah Solemani, Michelle Gomez, Mat Horne, Sam Spiro and Harry Enfield.

After the rehearsal week, their feedback helped us twist lines to land better, harder.

The same goes for the younger actors: give a bland line to Layton Williams and he will jujj the hell out of it.

Writing the first series, we’d sometimes manipulate our characters to suit random jokes.

Now, with the second series, we can hear the actors’ voices in our heads. It sounds creepy, but it’s made everything feel like it fits into place.

Bad Education lets me do the things I couldn’t do as an actual schoolboy.

I can tar and feather teachers, invent legal highs in chemistry or (a personal story now, so imagine violins playing) defy the bullies by taking my top off in swimming lessons.

It also lets me write with my friend, like we used to when we weren’t punching each other. So it’s great, really.

Freddy Syborn is the co-writer of series two of Bad Education.

Every episode of series two of Bad Education will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer seven days before it broadcasts on BBC Three
Episode one is available on BBC iPlayer from Tuesday, 27 August and is on BBC Three on Tuesday, 3 September at 9pm. For further programme times please see the episode guide.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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