It took over two long years in the making, so it’s no wonder that Jack Whitehall’s alter ego ‘Alfie Wickers’ has taken the UK comedy scene by storm, and that Bad Education has been suggested to be ‘one of the best comedies that BBC3 has ever screened‘ (Time Out).
In a recent interview, Whitehall claimed that the million-dollar idea materialised when he left University, and he discovered that many of his childish, immature friends were looking to start working in teaching, something that he could just not imagine from them. Thus ‘Alfie Wickers’ was created – a combination of every awful (but loveable) teacher you have ever had, placed in a school of typical, yet slightly eccentric teens.
Having only just finished main-stream education myself, it’s strange watching the show and actually being able to place my own classmate’s personalities to those of the characters in the show. The characters that Whitehall has cleverly created mirror the stereotypes of a standard UK public school, and is something that most of the younger audience can relate to. Take ‘Chantelle Parsons’ (played by Nikki Runeckles) for example, the provocative teen best known for her actions in the bedroom…I think that we can all safely say that we all knew someone at school that also mastered the role of Chantelle quite well…
Although many of the character’s actions have been exaggerated for entertainment purposes, I think that the behaviour we see in the show from the students and teachers really is quite accurate for that of a teenage public school classroom. It’s no wonder that Whitehall has got it right on the mark however, as he also revealed that he actually researched for his show by going into real classrooms and asking the students to basically through insults at him – most of which he went on to use within the script. One of the classics, being shown in episode one, in which a bully at the school tells ‘Alfie’ to ‘shut-up Downton Abbey‘. It was a brave move from the young comedy king, but an action that certainly paid off and reeled in the laughs along with the ratings!
Whitehall’s posh and somewhat ‘geeky’ exterior that he portrays when he’s on stage doing stand-up, also made him the perfect person to play the awkward school-teacher. A bellow-the-line teacher but with a heart of pure gold, ‘Wickers’ is constantly under ridicule from students and teachers alike, whilst always trying to attract the attention of fellow colleague Miss Gulliver (Sarah Solemani, famous for another BBC3 comedy, Him and Her). It is often sometimes hard to distinguish between Jack Whitehall and his fictional character Alfie Wickers, as both emit an uncomfortable but loveable feel, and show the witty humour that is evident both in Bad Education and Jack Whitehall’s famous stand-up scenes.
It is also said that when Whitehall started to write the script, Matthew Horne was on the forefront of his mind to play head-teacher Fraser – the eccentric individual that believes himself to be ‘down with kids’ and ‘cool’, but fails be either. Evidently, it seems that Horne has grasped this role perfectly, as week after week we are presented with an energetic performance that showcases not only his incredible acting skills, but brings to life Whitehall’s humorous mind just right.
The show broke the BBC3’s record for the highest-rated first episode of a comedy, and if you know just how many comedy’s the channel broadcasts, then you’ll know it’s a hard title to claim. Thanks to this, Bad Education has now earned it’s right as one of the most popular UK comedy series this year, especially in the eyes of BBC3’s young audience. I truly believe that the on-the-mark research taken out by Whitehall, combined with the simple yet brilliant concept of the show, is what has made it so successful. We can all firmly say that Alfie Wickers has been present at some point in our educational journeys (and for some of us still is), something that the whole entire nation can relate to and laugh at together.