Politically incorrect Brit Com
that ran between 1977 and 1979. The show was about a hapless class of students learning English as a foreign language
. It has been much criticized for its xenophobic outlook and heavy use of ethnic stereotypes, but at the time it was appreciated that the show gave actors of colour a bigger presence on TV.
Hilariously, it was outsourced abroad to great acclaim. To this day it is still re-run on Comedy Central in India and elsewhere.
Four main characters worked at the college of adult education where the show is set:
- Jeremy Brown, teacher of English as a foreign language
- Miss Courtney, strict principal of the college
- Sid, the Cockney caretaker
- Gladys, a tea lady with a penchant for gossip
Jeremy's students were:
- Giovanni Cupello, a macho Italian
- Danielle Favre, a French nymphomaniac
- Anna Schmidt, a humourless German
- Juan Cervantes, a Spanish bartender with hilarious '70s sideburns
- Maximillian Papandrious, a stereotypical Greek
- Jamila Ranjha, an Indian housewife
- Ranjeet Singh and Ali Nadim, an Indian Sikh and Pakistani Muslim (respectively) who constantly fight
- Chung Su-Lee, a fanatical Chinese communist
- Ingrid Svenson, a Swedish nymphomaniac
- Taro Nagazumi, a Japanese businessman
- Zoltán Szabó, a Hungarian with a strange tendency to burst into song
The series was later adapted (unsuccessfully) in the US as What A Country
, starring Yakov Smirnoff.
Tropes used included:
- All Men Are Perverts/All Women Are Lustful - When Brown's away from class, his students will either be messing around or reading something racy. With the exception of Jamila who'll probably be reading something about knitting.
- Berserk Button - Miss Courtney's reaction when addressed as "Mrs"
- British Accents
- Brawn Hilda - Anna has no problem beating the shit out of anyone who annoys her.
- Comically Missing the Point - A lot.
Mr Brown: After William the Conqueror came his son, William the Red-
Ali: Oh blimey! You are having a communist king?!
Su-Lee: (open mouthed grin and waving a Chinese flag enthusiastically)
Mr Brown: What? Oh no, he was killed "the Red" on account of his red hair.
Su-Lee: (sullenly stops waving and sits down)
- Catch Phrase - "Oh blimey!", "¿Por favor?", "Okey - cokey", "MISS Courtney!", "Jolly good!", "A thousand apologies"
- Deadpan Snarker: Mr Brown had his moments.
Mr Brown: (seeing Giovanni dressed up in typical Mafia getup, look of disgust) Are you representing Italy or the Mafia?
Giovanni: I REPRESENT SICILY!
- Everything's Sexier in French - Danielle
- Fanservice: Danielle and later Ingrid
- Final Season Casting: Many characters left before the fourth series, leaving Giovanni, Juan, Anna and Ranjeet as the only survivors of the original class (though Ingrid was brought back from season two.)
- Funny Foreigner: Though mostly portrayed sympathetically.
- Fun with Foreign Languages
- Germanic Depressives: Anna.
- Germanic Efficiency: Invoked and discussed.
Mr Brown: (Taking register) And you?
Anna: Anna Schmidt. German. Au paire.
Mr Brown: Ah! Good old fashioned Germanic efficiency.
Anna: Germans are very efficient.
- Hilarity Ensues: Several episodes centred around the characters' brushes with the law through misunderstandings of English.
- Modern Minstrelsy
- My Local: The characters were rarely seen outside of a school setting, but would often congregate in the college canteen.
- National Stereotypes: By the truckload.
- Running Gag: Ali saying 'squeeze me please', Ranjeet's thousand apologies and Taro putting -oh at the end of every word.
- Stock British Phrases: Sid speaks in nothing but these.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Ingrid, replacing Danielle.
- Theme Tune Cameo: During the school's talent night.
- Wacky Homeroom - Oh yes.
- Wimp Fight: Both Giovanni and Maxmillian get into a fight in one episode where they basically skip around each other with fists raised talking about how they're gonna hurt the other, but never once actually throw a punch. Lampshaded by Danielle.
"Fighting?! It was more like dancing!"