Schools of hard knocks

Susan Calman to host CBBC series

Stand-up Susan Calman is to present a new CBBC show in which bored kids are packed off to strict foreign schools.

Each of Extreme School’s five episodes follows two children as they spend a week in institutions ranging from a military academy in Chicago to a convent in St Lucia, learning ‘impeccable manners, a heightened sense of discipline and high academic standards’.

News Quiz regular Calman, who hates flying, will not be going with them.

The documentary series, which begins filming this month, is one of former head of BBC TV comedy Cheryl Taylor’s first commissions as controller of CBBC.

Previously responsible for ordering such BBC hits as Mrs Brown’s Boys, Twenty Twelve and Jack Whitehall’s Bad Education, she revealed in an interview with the Observer yesterday that she has also commissioned a ‘smart, accessible, family-orientated’ studio sitcom and a single-camera comedy with the same tone as BBC One's Outnumbered.

She added that some big comedy names are seeking to develop scripts for the channel. CBBC has previously announced Fit, a sketch show which will be on screens at the start of next year, featuring Peter Serafinowicz, Sara Pascoe, Aisling Bea, Dan Wright and Will Hartley from sketch troupe Clever Peter.

Extreme School is produced by Twenty Twenty, who specialise in documentaries about disciplining unruly children. Previous productions include Brat Camp, Bad Lads Army, The World’s Strictest Parents and Leave Us Kids Alone.

Executive producer Helen Soden said of Extreme School: ‘For any British school pupil these foreign schools would feel like stepping onto another planet.  But for the kids we'll cast, whose disengagement with school is having a major impact on their chances of a good education, the culture shock will be profound and transformative.’

Calman has herself been swotting up recently for a celebrity Christmas episode of University Challenge. The University of Glasgow law graduate is appearing with television historian Neil Oliver and two other famous alumni.

- by Jay Richardson

Published: 10 Dec 2012

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