Jack Whitehall on his Bad Education
"Mr Wickers is a knob, but a knob in a loveable way, I hope... He is quite immature and a bit of a man-child, so I think he is a heightened version of myself in some ways"
Jack Whitehall has written his first sitcom and cast himself as the main character: hapless history teacher Mr Wickers. Here’s a sneak preview...
What’s Mr Wickers like?
He’s a knob but a knob in a loveable way, I hope. The idea was to have one of those teachers who is only a teacher because they missed out on something during their own education, and who’s got back into it because this is his second chance to be the popular kid because he wasn’t the first time round. That’s certainly something I saw when I was at school: the younger teachers who want to be your pal.
How much of you is in him?
That’s probably for other people to judge! He is quite immature and a bit of a man-child so I think he is a heightened version of myself in some ways…
What were your own schooldays like?
My school days were just like everybody else’s. We did the normal things like polo and foxhunting. We had terrible school dinners as well: one time they served red wine with the fish course and it all kicked off.
But seriously, I was very conscious of the fact that it was set in a state school and I went to a private school. The priority was to make it as funny as possible and I didn’t want the setting to be too specific. We wanted it to be as authentic as possible so we went into state schools, so hopefully there are no glaring errors – no references to the hunting lodge
Was it easy to gain access to the schools?
Yes, surprisingly so. They were very open to the idea of us coming in, watching their classes and talking to their students. A couple of times I stood at the front and said to the pupils, “Will you just insult me?” And they were really quick to do that. They didn’t need any encouragement.
Do you ever worry after Fresh Meat that you might be typecasting yourself as the annoying posh boy?
Maybe someone will offer me as a Danny-Dyer character but it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know if I should be worried about it…I’m worried about it now because you’ve pointed it out!
Is it true your mother makes an appearance in episode three?
She has a small role as an angry Daily Mail-reading parent. And you worry about me being typecast!