Alfie Wickers, an immature hapless young man has a monumental hangover and has to get to school in time for his class, pity he is the teacher…
Jack Whitehall stars in his self penned comedy of a teacher who perhaps doesn’t take his teaching responsibilities as seriously as he really ought to but still somehow manages to teach his pupils something of use. Well, I say that, the first lesson the young adults were taught was that getting a pupil to pretend their Mum has a degenerative disease to imply deep sensitivity is not the best way to impress the love of your life, obvious you would think but apparently not to Alfie. His teaching methods are somewhat unorthodox but you get the impression that he may learn more from the kids than they ever will from him.
Despite his obvious shortcomings as a teacher, Alfie is a caring if not misguided soul, achingly in love with the passionate and serious Miss Gulliver (Sarah Solemani) and terrified of ball-busting deputy headmistress Ms Pickwell (played terrifyingly well by the fantastic Michelle Gomez). Coupled with the hilarious Mathew Horne as Fraser who appears to be a Kevin Bishop sketch style character channelling David Brent from ‘The Office’ as the school’s headmaster – there is a glittering array of comedy talent…and that is just the teachers. The young actors shine as students but some of the characters themselves are a little predictable – the loudmouth, the promiscuous girl, the young boy desperate to be liked, the class swot etc… however there are a still some excellent performances coming through.
The first episode was mainly concerned with the fact that Alfie had yet to mark the class’ mock exams and if he didn’t have this done by 5pm, the students would all fail and Alfie would have to face the music at parents evening that night. Mainly concerned with his failed attempts at getting a date with the fragrant Miss Gulliver before Fraser, Alfie was bereft until his pupils essentially told him to man up, afraid that if he didn’t get the papers marked then he may get sacked (and they may get a real teacher who makes them do homework!). Alfie’s ingenious idea was to get the students to mark the papers for him but this had pretty much expected consequences. As Miss Gulliver is preparing to make a speech about the school’s charity calendar, Alfie’s attempt to seem caring by pretending to understand the disease being discussed leads to his mouth running away with him and leading to an ill thought out plan that inevitably ends in public humiliation.
While actually very comic and accessible it may be a little in bad taste for some people, given the current views that teachers are undervalued, having a feckless, work-shy excuse for a teacher in a comedy may not be to everyone’s liking. Jack Whitehall is effectively resurrecting other roles that he has played but he is still very funny as Alfie so can probably be forgiven for some overlapping in his acting. There were some real laugh out loud lines in the show such as “If I was a font, I’d be Comic Sans. You are soooo Times New Roman” and Alfie’s sheer disgust at the mere suggestion that any of his teaching techniques are anything other than inspired genius was incredibly funny. The interaction between Alfie and Pickwell was also charged with a weird sort of chemistry and the pair really work as a comedic team.
All in all, the show has real potential and amused me right from the start and with the anarchic humour and embarrassments that are sure to occur in Alfie’s life, I’m really looking forward to the next episode already.