1 9 8 7 (UK)
1 x 60 minute episode
1 x 30 minute episode
This ITV series debuted in a special 60-minute episode with the South African ambassador’s son – rejoicing under the name of Smutts Van der Git (Courtney Roper-Knight) – enrolling at Hardwicke House Comprehensive and soon learning that self-defence, extortion and blackmail were all part of a typical day.
By the second episode, a new term was underway and the teachers were battling to get their hands on the school’s paper and pens.
Roy Kinnear played the harassed, hapless and hopeless headmaster, Mr R G Wickham, in charge of the motliest collection of misfits ever to throw chalk or ink bombs. Other staff members included Deputy Head Mr Mackintosh (Roger Sloman), French Mistress Cynthia Crabbe (Pam Ferris), PE teacher Harry Savage (Tony Haygarth), History master Dick Flashman (Gavin Richards), Head of English Herbert Fowl (Granville Saxton), Maths Master Erik “Moose” Magnusson (Duncan Preston) and Geography Master Peter Philpott (Nick Wilton).
Although seven episodes were made, only two were broadcast (the 60-minute premiere and one 30 minute episode) on consecutive nights. Due to extreme press and public reaction to its anarchic content, the series was pulled from the schedules and has never been shown since.
Bizarrely, Hardwicke House was given a prime-time mid-evening slot and was billed as family viewing. But the show was not a traditional family sitcom. It was zany and over-the-top – similar in style to The Young Ones or Bottom – in the vein of so-called “alternative comedy” in the early-to-mid 1980s.
With a late-night time slot, there would likely have been little uproar surrounding it and it may have survived.
Mr R G Wickham
Mr Paul Mackintosh
Smutts Van der Git
Mrs Van der Git
Mr Van der Git