Bad Education: Giving Alfie our worst characteristics

Tuesday 27 August 2013, 16:00

Freddy Syborn Freddy Syborn Writer

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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.

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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 Wickers and students at the pool 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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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    This is one of the best comedy programmes on tv. I absolutely love it and look forward to the weird and wonderful things that will happen to Alfie and his class. A brilliant watch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    So I've gone through the rigmarole of registering now hear my words. someone.

    Flippin fan daby dosey to Jack and Freddy. I don't know whether they knew it at the time but it was going to pitted against another school based drama. I've got to say I brushed past this even though it was featured but eventually succumbed. I would say though with my critical hat on, and I know I look silly in it, but would have liked some fantasy moments, I'm thinking Green Wing.. Not totally inspired by Michelle Gomez but so glad to see her back. Gomez? is there something she's not telling us...

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Totally NOT funny. Yet another complete failure of the BBC to make me laugh. Turned off after 15 mins. Stereotypical and dull.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    in fact so bad I cant evensay any more about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Much of the humour's either based on stereotypical characters, or toilet humour/lets mention our sexual parts because that's really funny isn't it? All rather, like most stuff nowadays, written to a formula. But then hasn't humour down the ages? Not the worst comedy I've seen for a while, some clever moments too, but not the best.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I think this is a top-end sitcom, warm hearted and character based. I hope very much it will run and run, series two is better than series one, so far...
    It seems to me that the program subverts the stereotypes it superficially appears to reinforce, in part by the imaginativeness of the script, also by the excellence of the ensemble acting.
    Keep up the good, witty, work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    so not original. Poorly derivative and unsubtle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    A superbly written series for the most part, although can be a little hit-and-miss. As a teacher myself I can really identify with some of the things in it, like the nightmare cover class and the comically heartless Miss Pickwell. Not to mention the school trip episode which was the best ever... "it's like they're on a spectrum... beyond the spectrum" still makes me crease up. The new series has been some good, some bad, but I do still have high hopes. Much better than other school-based comedies around at the moment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    No civil war in Malawi! Never been!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I shouldn't like this as it is so crude, and a bad example of how teenage kids (and adults) should NOT be. But Alfie is such a sweet idiot and tries so hard to be a teacher when in his head he is about 12, that it does come over as really funny. They should cut out some of the overdone sexual references though, or it will become repetitive and boring.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Jack, I think your performance in this series is getting close to the the pace and creative weirdness of Jim Parsons in BBT.
    Freddie, Jack this is really good sit-com, perfect for it's time with top, top production values I love it. Hope Tiger Aspect manage to sell it lot's of places especially America, they sooo deserve the full Alfie.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I only caught a couple of episodes of the first series but have watched all of series two which has been really good in my opinion. Some of the characters are excellently done.

    I don't understand some of the criticisms posted here. ie. for being 'unsubtle'?.. Really?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Anything with Sarah Solemani in it catches my eye.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    i am 56 and my daughter is 17. this is one of the few programs we watch together. we agree not a school you would want to send your children too but a school you would have liked to have gone too. makes us laugh what more could you ask for from a comedy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I have never given negative feedback to a show before but I could not even watch a whole episode it was so daft and the characters and set-ups so "pantomime" in style. Except for Sarah Solemani, I would expect more convincing performances from a year 7 improv. Sorry, Beeb, disappointed.


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