Big School, Bad Education, The Inbetweeners and the best school comedies

David Walliams' new sitcom is set in a secondary school, but he's far from the first to pen a comedy based on the education system...

David Walliams stars in Big School tonight alongside Catherine Tate, Frances de la Tour and Philip Glenister. But Walliams is far from the first to dream up a comedy inside a school’s graffiti-ed halls.


Just what is it about our school days that makes for such good comedy? Is it the teachers with their strange dress sense? Perhaps the big bullies? The boys who haven’t learned to use deodorant yet and sport patchy facial hair? The cat fights between the girls? The first cringe-inducing crushes? Oh, yeah… we get it now…

Bad Education

Forget stand up, Jack Whitehall turned his hand to scripted comedy for Bad Education. Unlike his own education in swanky schools (he went to the same college as the Middletons, don’t you know) this sitcom focuses on the teachers and pupils of an average school in Watford.

Whitehall plays Alfie Wickers, a privileged, recently-graduated teacher with little to no grasp on the curriculum – or how to control his classroom. More childish than most of his pupils, Alfie is much more interested in trying to woo hot teacher Miss Gulliver (played by Sarah Solemani) than getting his class through their GCSEs.

The second series of Bad Education comes to BBC3 this autumn

The Inbetweeners

What do you get when you cross a bunch of misfits with sixth form college Rudge Park Comprehensive? Comedy gold, in the form of Channel 4 sitcom The Inbetweeners.

Will, Simon, Jay and Neil spent their school days bunking off, being verbally abused by their teachers, embarrassing themselves in front of the ladies and coming a cropper in the toilets. Well, that only happened once, but you know what we’re talking about, don’t you? Never going to forget that episode.

Here, head of sixth form Mr Gilbert shares some parting words of wisdom with the boys…


Ba, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da…

This one’s a little glossier than British school-set comedies. Starring Lea Michelle, Jane Lynch and the late Cory Monteith, Ryan Murphy’s hit show tells the trials and tribulations of a group of Glee clubbers in McKinley High.

As they try to avoid the poisonous stare of PE teacher Sue Sylvester, the musical theatre fans navigate the corridors of high school via teenage pregnancy, bullying, bereavement, questions about their sexuality, broken hearts and LOTS of slushies to the face. Brain freeze!

Summer Heights High

Chris Lilley’s Australian mockumentary is a parody of high-school life – warts and all. Most of the funniest characters are played by Lilley himself (which is probably why they don’t ever appear in the same scenes together).

His impression of stuck-up exchange student Ja’mie is uncanny, but here he is playing drama teacher Mr G, who has decided to turn the death of a student into a musical. As you do.

That said, it is a pretty catchy tune… *sings* “She’s a bad girl with a bad habit. A bad habit for drugs”

Mean Girls

Written by the wonderful Tina Fey and starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried, Mean Girls is the ultimate high school film. There’s cheating, boyfriend stealing, bitchiness, back stabbing, bullying… Not to mention that Burn Book. Just your typical afternoon in a secondary school, eh?

The film follows newbie Cady who arrives for her first day at school after being home schooled. Queen bee Regina George takes her under her wing and soon fresh-faced Cady finds herself morphing into a Plastic…


Why make a programme about school pupils when the teachers are infinitely more interesting? Channel 4’s dramedy was about a group of dysfunctional teachers who spent more of their time smoking and down the pub than instilling wisdom into their pupils…


Bad Education is on tonight at 9pm on BBC1