1 9 9 7 (UK)
12 x 30 minute episodes
This BBC1 sitcom was the first major school-based comedy series since Please, Sir!
David Bamber played Eric Slatt, the desperately ambitious deputy headmaster at Galfast High School, a one-man argument for the introduction of corporal punishment – for teachers.
Approaching his 40s and trapped in the stressed-out concrete jungle of a modern comprehensive school, Slatt seethed with fury at the encroaching dangers of Socialism, arts subjects and single-parent families, and dreamt of one day having his own school where all the kids wear uniforms.
Slatt kept his eye on the kids with a pair of binoculars and wasn’t fussy who was punished when he discovered a broken window (“Pick any boy with an earring!”).
He was aided and abetted by no-nonsense school secretary Janet (Geraldine Fitzgerald) who was not afraid to answer him back – mainly because she was his wife.
Both were bastions of sanity compared to the headmaster, Mr Richard Nixon (John Wells) who insisted on teaching from a cupboard and was blissfully unaware that his class had scarpered and left him locked in. Nixon was replaced in the second series by a new headmaster, the equally improbably-named J.F. Kennedy (Duncan Preston).
The staff room was packed with over-the-top characters like the neurotic music teacher Amanda Trippley (Amanda Boxer) who fired the entire fifth form and Mr Carkdale (John Grillo), the bearded head of English who kept reading swearwords from essays out loud.
It was left to attractive miniskirted new teacher Suzy Travis (Nicola Walker) – fresh from teacher training college – to bring a touch of reality to the place.
Written by Stephen Moffat, Chalk was inspired by his time as an English teacher. Compared in initial press releases to Fawlty Towers (from which at least two plotlines were lifted), the series received a critical panning but made it to a second series.
Exterior location shooting of the fictional Galfast High took place at Acland Burghley School in the Tufnell Park area of Camden, London.
Suzy Arrives | The Interview | Rumours & Leaks | The Object of Desire | The Inspection | Women and Football || The New Student | Irregular Spending | Criticism | Dreams | The Star Pupil | Party