Sarah Millican on bullies, boobs and Educating Yorkshire

"The programme does not remind me of my school days at all. For a start, we all had eyebrows"

While channel-mooching (I do not hop) the other night, I fell across a repeat of Educating Yorkshire and bloody loved it. I’m a fan of the fly-on-the-wall-type documentary, even if I’m not particularly interested in the location of the wall. For someone who is not a fan of babies (noisy, ruddy poo machines), I have cried my way through One Born Every Minute. For someone who is squeamish enough to put ointment on by feel rather than by mirror, I will happily watch people being stapled back together on 24 Hours in A&E. The common thread is people. I am fascinated by them and Educating Yorkshire has its fair share of characters. 


The programme does not remind me of my school days at all. For a start, we all had eyebrows. I loved and hated school in equal measures. I loved learning and homework and teachers. I was hated. By the other kids. Not by the teachers. They really liked me which, if anything, added to the problem.

I remember my dad once said – it’s in the Dad Handbook along with getting an extra turn on any screwed-in screws and taking hoovers apart on kitchen benches – “School days are the best days of your life”. This during a time when I was the only girl without boobs in my whole year. I once made a dramatic announcement to my parents that I was the only one who didn’t have a ra-ra skirt and guilted my parents into getting me one. For boobs, alas, there was no quick fix, though these days I suspect things are different. My dad’s statement filled me with terror as to what lay ahead if these days of keeping my head down and ignoring bullies were the best of everything. 

Watching Educating Yorkshire, I realised I still prefer the teachers to the kids, just like when I was at school. Though now it makes more sense, of course. The kids are a hotchpotch. Bullies, tell-tales (I have no problem calling us grasses, either), quiet ones, gobby ones, ones with all of Rimmel plastered over their faces, like a scary, drunk, 35-year-old hen party has got lost in a school. And then there’s Ryan. Adorable little old man Ryan, with his smart views on the world and old-school politeness, sticks out like a wonderful thumb.

Headmaster Mr Mitchell is a good man, dealing with all that school throws at him with aplomb. But if he and his colleagues give us faith in the education system, Ryan gives us faith in kids.

The Sarah Millican Television Programme is on Tuesday at 9:30pm on BBC2