'Young Jack Whitehall wasn’t really into actual hard work' | The comic on the reboot of Bad Education © BBC

'Young Jack Whitehall wasn’t really into actual hard work'

The comic on the reboot of Bad Education

Following the reunion episode which aired before Christmas, Bad Education returns to BBC Three next week with Jack Whitehall’s hapless teacher Alfie Wickers having left the school. Instead, former pupils Stephen (Layton Williams) and  Mitchell (Charlie Wernham) have now joined the teaching class and have a new class to deal with.  Whitehall – who created the show with  Freddy Syborn – remains behind the camera as executive producer. Here he talks about the new series…

What can you tell us about series 4?

Series 4 is the passing of the torch. Alfie Wickers  has finally left Abbey Grove and in his place we have Stephen Carmichael and Mitchell Harper who are two young teachers at the school and, much like Alfie, very much bigger kids than the kids themselves.

How does it feel to be leaving the character after such a long time?

Yeah, mixed emotions because it’s been such a big part of my life but what really excited me about being able to do the reunion episode was the chance to give him a proper send-off. I know the fans had been asking for ages about whether we were ever going to bring back the show and it felt like the right time to maybe get everyone back together and do something like that, and all the more exciting to say goodbye to my character and then welcome in this new series and these new characters to the school. So yeah, that’s what makes it exciting for me.

Did Alfie change a lot over the course of the programme?

Not an awful lot. His hair is slightly different. Other than that, I’d say he has remained in arrested development for the ten years since the show started. He is not necessarily a man who matured an awful lot.

What do you enjoy most about the programme in general?

I love the tone of it. It’s so fun, it’s so silly. I love the world that we’ve created here at Abbey Grove. It feels like a community you want to be involved with as an audience member.

I always think that that’s part of the appeal of the show is that people watch it and they think being in that classroom with those kids and that teacher would be so fun. I think that’s the kind of infectious quality that Bad Education has and hopefully this new series will have for a whole new audience coming to it for the first time.

I think it’s been a hit with audiences because it’s relatable for schoolkids to watch this and to think about their teachers and classmates and for older viewers, their schooldays as well, there’s that kind of nostalgia to it.

It’s a show that doesn’t really take itself too seriously and I think that that’s something that has endeared it to audiences.

How have you felt being on the other side of the camera in the executive producer chair?

It’s been really fun producing this. I’ve really enjoyed getting involved with that aspect of things. Particularly bringing through some of the incredible writers that we’ve had working on this series of Bad Education. We’ve been working with the finest up-and-coming talent in the country and I think it’s reinvigorated the brand, so being there to be helpful where I can be and to make the most of those sharp young minds has been a really interesting process for me.

I think the proof will be in the pudding because the quality of the scripts we got from everyone is top-notch.

The cast seem to have a great camaraderie…

It’s such a hard thing to fake, this kind of chemistry between actors, but that classroom, when you watch it, it does feel so fun and you want to be in there, joshing around with all of those kids.

I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Charlie and Layton because I think they’re the leads of this show and they really set the tone. They have this amazing, infectious energy and joy and they bring that to the rest of the cast and the show in general.

Can you tell us more about the new Class K?

The y are definitely just as raucous as the OGs. They each have their own individuality and fun little dynamics between them. And we’ve assembled an incredible cast, they’ve done such an amazing job. I think they're a bunch of characters that Bad Education fans are going to instantly fall in love with.

Final question. Would Alfie Wickers have liked to have taught young Jack Whitehall?

Yeah probably because young Jack Whitehall wasn’t really into actual hard work and learning and was a bit of a clown so I think that would have fitted quite well with Alfie’s ethos when it comes to education or a lack thereof.

• Series 4 of Bad Education starts on BBC Three at 10pm on Sunday, with all episodes then available on iPlayer.

• This is an edited version of an interview supplied by the show's publicists

Published: 10 Jan 2023

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