Follow TV Tropes


Series / Bad Education

Go To
The members of Class K in Series 1 and 2.note 

Bad Education is a British sitcom produced by Tiger Aspect Productions for BBC Three, originally running from 2012 to 2014. It stars Jack Whitehall as young teacher Alfie Wickers – "the worst teacher ever to grace the British education system" – at the fictional Abbey Grove School. Mathew Horne co-stars as Fraser, Abbey Grove's eccentric headteacher, alongside Sarah Solemani as Alfie's fellow teacher and love interest Rosie Gulliver, and Michelle Gomez as his nemesis, deputy headteacher Isobel Pickwell. It has been suggested that Whitehall's character is a continuation of his "posh twit" persona from Fresh Meat.

The series launch broke BBC3's record for the highest-rated first episode of a comedy, which was previously held by Mathew Horne's previous series Horne And Corden.

A foreign remake, An American Education, also starring Whitehall, began shooting a pilot in early 2014 but ABC passed on it, and the original series continued.

The Bad Education Movie was released in August 2015, which has nothing to do with Pedro Almodóvar's film Bad Education (2004) or the HBO biopic Bad Education (2019). In 2022, it was announced that the series would return for a reunion special at the end of the year, to be followed by a revival series, in which two of Alfie's former students, Stephen (Layton Williams) and Mitchell (Charlie Wernham), follow in his footsteps and become teachers at Abbey Grove, contending with a new class of students, strict new headmistress Bernadette Hoburn (Vicki Pepperdine) and Fraser, who's been demoted to being the school cook.

This series provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Grayson kisses Stephen full on the lips during the Christmas musical, even though it wasn't in the script. And then proceeds to give him tickets to football game as a Christmas present, wanting to go with him.
    Stephen: You can give up that act now, babes.
  • Argentina Is Nazi Land: Pickwell fakes her death to retire there to be with her 90 year old new German boyfriend.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Grayson, as of the Christmas special.
    Grayson: (asking Stephen on a date) So do you wanna go? I mean, it don't mean nothing!
  • As Herself: Bianca Del Rio appears at the end of "Whodunnit", with Geoffrey the Ofsted inspector turning out to be her biggest fan.
  • Ass Shove: One of the many moments where Alfie's dad embarrasses him implies that he (Alfie) did this to Atticus Hoye with a set of Pogs.
  • Becoming the Mask: Rosie ends up transforming into Pickwell (including the Scottish accent) when she becomes deputy headmistress, after Pickwell's "supposed" death. She snaps out of it at the end of the episode.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Alfie and Rosie, particularly throughout in the series 1 finale.
    • This goes nowhere as of Series 2, as Rosie reveals she's now dating a woman.
    • At the end of Series 2 they kiss again and although they're more careful with privacy and Alfie is immediately pulled away by Pickwell, who saved the school with funds gained from her associate, it seems more serious this time due to the fact that Rosie decided to stay at Abbey Grove rather than go to Africa mostly on his insistence.
    • As of the first episode of Series 3, they are living together.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Preet, the hypermacho PE teacher from South Africa, calls Alfie a "moffie". This is a non-PC Afrikaans word for a Camp Gay. His PE class is dismissively referred to as a "kinderbok".
  • Boomerang Bigot: During the school election, we see the BNP candidate... is Black.
  • Brain Bleach: Alfie, Rosie and Joe's reaction to hearing Alfie's dad and Professor Green having sex upstairs on Alfie's bed.
    Alfie's Dad: I'm just going to put these sheets in the wash. I tried to keep a lid on it, but it's been a while; Postman Pat's fine, Mrs Goggins took the brunt of it...
  • But Not Too Gay: Played straight with the teachers, averted with the students.
    • In season 2 Rosie starts dating a woman, but though it's often talked about we only see the couple together for a few minutes, holding hands. Made all the more obvious because Rosie kisses Alfie twice.
    • On the other hand there's the students Stephen and Grayson. Several straight students mention having boyfriends/girlfriends or are seen flirting, but only Stephen and Grayson are seen kissing.
    • Preet, the macho PE teacher, is suspiciously fond of patting bottoms and cupping genitals. Usually with Alfie.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Mitchell's dad's porn stash in Series 3 Episode 1. It's used as a joke in the first scene, gets another mention around two thirds of the way through the episode when Mitchell mentions it's gone, and one of the final scenes reveals that Alfie glued it to his dad's car as an act of defiance.
  • Christmas Special: Aired during Christmas 2013 following the second series.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Fraser. How he got to be headmaster is a complete mystery.
  • Coming-Out Story: Parodied in the sex-ed episode. When Alfie wants to impress the parents watching in on his sex-ed lesson, he concocts a plan to have one of his students come out as gay during it. Stephen offers, but Alfie ends up choosing Joe to do it.
    Stephen: Sir, after a good deal of soul searching and a powerful journey of self-discovery, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am gay.
    Alfie: Ah, that’s lovely, Stephen, but what we need here is surprise.
  • Covered in Gunge: In "Trailblazer", Inchez, Harrison and Indigo get covered in chicken satay (mistaken for katsu curry from Wagamama's) after Hoburn uses her shoe to take down Mitchell and Blessing's drone takeaway delivery service. Indigo unfortunately turns out to have a nut allergy, meaning that the "splashback" results in her having to be rushed to hospital.
  • Credits Gag: Twice:
    • In the series 1 finale, "Politics", the song Sledgehammer (1986) by Peter Gabriel plays over the title sequence, as a Brick Joke towards the previous scene of Fraser accidentally showing a video of an elderly man singing the song with his genitalia to an exam hall full of students.
  • Crosscast Role: In-Universe, in the titular "School Play", some of the real-life figures parodied are performed in this manner - including Inchez as Meghan Markle and Jinx as Prince Andrew.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pickwell. But everyone else gets their time to shine as well.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Fraser claims his first name is "Simon". It's actually "Shaquelle". Possibly subverted in Series 4 when he reveals that he changed his name to Shaquelle by choice.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: At Aflie's posh alma mater Middleton House, the term "Wickers" literally became an insult.
  • The Ghost: Alfie's old schoolfriend Atticus Hoye who he is mentioned to have had a number of gay experiences with. At least until the movie, in which he's played by Jeremy Irvine.
  • Gym Class Hell: Preet van der Plessis' PE lessons. He builds a military assault course and talks about trucking in assault dogs to give the fat kids an incentive to run really fast. His invective to a mixed class of thirteen year old students - and Alfie - is a master class in PE teacher sadism.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Sexually Active Today?: Alfie keeps up this act for a bit, before admitting he's a virgin in the Sex Ed episode.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the reunion special, Alfie takes responsibility for organising an illegal rave in the Abbey Grove gym even though the rave was was actually organised by Mitchell, and gets fired as a result. His reasoning is that Mitchell would've lost the PE teacher job he'd just been given for doing so, while he was looking for a way out of Abbey Grove anyway in order to go to Lebanon to be with Rosie.
  • Hidden Depths: For all his incompetence and shallow behaviour, Alfie deeply cares about his students. This is perhaps best illustrated when Chantelle falsely tells him she is pregnant, and he is nothing but supportive and protective of her, particularly against Professor Green's snide remarks.
  • Holiday Volunteering: The Christmas Special has Miss Gulliver attempting to persuade her students to volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
  • I Banged Your Mom: In "Valentine's Day", Mitchell and Rem Dogg both have Valentine's cards, claiming they came from the other's mother. Rem Dogg's card apparently reads "Dear Rem Dogg. Here's your £20 back. I can't charge you because you were so good. P.S. You banged me so hard, now I'm in a wheelchair.", while Mitchell's card contains a packet of Wotsits that he apparently payed Rem Dogg's mum with.
    Alfie: *Before leaving the classroom* "Rem Dogg, by the way, if you have been sleeping with Mitchell's mum, I suggest you go and give your cock a thorough clean."
    • This happens to Alfie when Professor Green has sex with his father.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Alfie to Jing and Cleopatra.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: When Alfie makes his class do a reenactment of the Battle of Pearl Harbour, he gives Asian student Jing the role of a Japanese soldier, even putting a Rising Sun headband on her. He is soon reminded that "She's Chinese, you muppet!"
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Rosie, much to Alfie's distress and misery. However, it's implied the reason they later broke up was because her partner believed she wasn't actually comfortable with her new sexuality.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Mr Humpage is repeatedly mistaken for one by Rosie after Alfie mentions something he refuses to explain happened between them in his second year at school. Turns out it was simply Aflie quitting his sports team, which Humpage refused to forgive him for. He could have become a professional Irish Dancer!
  • Musical Episode: "School Play", which features Class K (plus Stephen and Mitchell) performing songs in the titular school play.
  • One of the Kids: Alfie is this in relation to his class. He gets bullied by some students and even gets constantly propositioned by another. The first episode even lampshades it by not revealing that he is actually a teacher until the end of the cold open.
  • Overly Long Name; Preet Cornelius Hennihenwig Hoitetoit Goosenhuissen Tabactablanche Vestavasen Voota van der Plessis. note 
  • Pet The Villain: How Alfie reacts to Frank, following Pickwell's (faked) suicide.
  • Porn Stash: Mitchell's dad gets rid of his after stealing an iPad.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy:
    • Fraser's attempts to be hip. Which, according to one episode from a Noodle Incident, got him into trouble with a Racial Insensitivity Panel, implied to be because he mistakenly believed he had N-Word Privileges.
    • Alfie is also sometimes this, like when in one episode he raps part of "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio. So is Pickwell of all people, who responds to Alfie's rap by quoting Tupac Shakur.
    • Jinx in Season 4, who's shown joining in in a rap cypher with a group of otherwise entirely Black students.
  • Put on a Bus: Pickwell in Series 2 after she fakes her suicide. The Bus Comes Back for the last scene of Series 2 though.
    • Professor Green as of Series 3. The opening scenes of the first episode reveal that she left Alfie's dad and took all his money.
    • Alfie as of the reunion special, after he gets himself fired from Abbey Grove by taking the rap for the illegal rave Mitchell organised, both so that Mitchell can keep the PE teacher job there, and so he can depart to go to Lebanon with Rosie.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Alfie's attempt to clear Fraser in front of the school board.
    Alfie: Look, I've done things here that in any other school would get me fired, maybe even arrested. But Fraser has never shouted at me once!
  • Reunion Show: The 2022 special, which is set amongst a Class Reunion In-Universe.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: In-Universe, in "Whodunnit", Stephen decides to work out which one of his class told Hoburn he was planning on taking them out for a school trip to his audition by planting false rumours and seeing which of them get spread around, a tactic which, as he describes, famously used by tabloid celebrity Coleen Rooney to unmask fellow tabloid figure Rebekah Vardy as the friend who was selling stories about her to the press. It doesn't work, all of the false rumours get spread around the school - despite them including that Hoburn uses body doubles and that Mrs. Mollinson had died - and the person who did tell Hoburn wasn't even one of his class, it was Mitchell.
  • Run for the Border: Pickwell at the end of "The Funeral".
  • Sadist Teacher: Pickwell. And PE master Preet van der Plessis, a displaced South African.
  • School Swimsuit: Pickwell insists on this in the school swimming competition episode, much to the discomfort of the girls; the deputy headmistress even wears one herself, causing Alfie to speculate that his heterosexuality is making its final successful escape.
  • Shout-Out: The school bully is called Frank Grayson. In Michael Palin's Ripping Yarns, the bully in "Tomkinson's Schooldays" was called Grayson.
  • Sex for Services: In "Whodunnit", Hoburn offers to perform a sex act on Fraser's newly hired assistant, who she believes to be an Ofsted inspector in exchange for keeping the school out of special measures. He accepts, not realising that she doesn't understand who he is.
  • Snap Back / Status Quo Is God: The series 2 finale focuses on the school's ultimately successful attempts to raise enough money to keep the school open after Fraser bankrupts it by falling for a 419 Scam. At the start of series 3, the school is bordering on bankruptcy again thanks to Fraser investing the money raised in series 2 in his new Dolce & Gabanter clothing range.
  • Teacher's Pet: Joe has shades of this, generally Alfie's favourite and teased by the others. Overall averted because Alfie tries so hard to be matey with his class as a whole.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Chantelle for Alfie, much to his annoyance.
    Alfie: *Reading an anonymous question* "I'm fifteen, he's twenty-three. What will it feel like?" Illegal, Chantelle!