1 9 5 8 (UK)
10 x 30 minute episodes
Based on the 1950 novel by Anthony Buckeridge, Jennings At School had already been produced as a radio series for Children’s Hour on the BBC Home Service (with future Top Gear host Jeremey Clarkson voicing the character of Atkinson in some episodes!) before making the leap to television from September to November in 1958.
Set in Linbury Court preparatory school in England, Jennings (John Mitchell) shared his dormitory with his “right-hand man”, Darbishire (Derek Needs) and fellow boarders Venables (Colin Spaull), Atkinson (Jeremy Ward), Temple (Peter Wood) and Bromwich (Major) (Janek Smigielska).
Mr LP (Lancelot Phineas) Wilkins (Wilfred Babbage) was Jennings’ form master. “Old Wilkie” was a man of limited patience with a volcanic temperament – redeemed by a hidden heart of gold.
Mr Michael Carter (Geoffrey Wincott) was Jennings’ housemaster, a friendly man of great imperturbability and patience, with a phenomenal and unfortunate ability to detect dissembling and violations of school rules.
Much of the humour stemmed from misunderstandings attributable to Jennings’ literal-mindedness and impetuosity. Although good-natured and well-meaning, his tendency to act on impulse resulted in Jennings frequently getting into trouble.
John Mitchell who played Jennings later found fame as the drummer in The Jimi Hendrix Experience, using the name Mitch Mitchell.
Another series of six episodes – simply named Jennings with David Schulten in the title role – aired on the BBC in 1966.
John Christopher Timothy Jennings
Charles Edwin Jeremy Darbishire
Mr LP Wilkins
Mr Michael Carter
Jennings Learns the Ropes | Jennings and the Tinkling Glass | Jennings and the Fateful Date | Jennings and the Scientific Frogmen | Jennings and the Farewell Gift | Jennings Entertains the General | Jennings and the March of Progress | Jennings and the Roman Remains | Jennings and the Organised Outing | Jennings Takes the Stage