Teachers behaving (very) badly

29th October 2004 at 01:00
The hit TV sitcom is back for a fourth run - and again it's the staff who are up to no good, writes Dorothy Lepkowska

They bicker, fight and ignore each other in the corridors. And that is when they are not jumping out of windows, peeing in waste-paper bins and boozing in the pub at lunchtime.

As if the pupils doing it was not bad enough, now the staff are at it, too.

It can all mean only one thing: Teachers is back for its fourth series.

This year sees Summerdown School closed down and the staff relocated to the merged Wattkins comprehensive.

Penny is as vain and annoying as ever, beer-swigging Lindsay is just as overweight and blunt, and the new heart-throb head of English, Ewan, is setting pulses racing in the staffroom. Bob, the embittered former head of English, has somehow lost a wife and gained a wig.

Meanwhile, as pupils play with mortars and petrol-bomb the playground, the staff disappear for a crafty fag around the back of the sports hall.

Sound familiar? If this seems like a curious mixture of fact and fantasy, then that is exactly what is it supposed to be, says the cast.

Vicky Hall, 27, who plays Lindsay, began her acting career in the children's drama series Byker Grove and later worked in schools with touring theatre companies.

She is the only cast member with any teaching experience, having taught singing and drama at Hampton Hill, a drama school, in London.

She was considering starting a postgraduate teaching course when the audition came through for Teachers two years ago.

"They wanted someone vivacious, attractive and a size 16-18, so I suppose I fitted the bill," she said.

Ms Hall added: "The series has no bearing on reality, but that is its appeal.

"I spoke to my friends about what it was like to be a teacher and when playing the part, I asked myself how they would react in certain situations.

"And while I based my character on one of my friends, they all love their jobs while Lindsay doesn't.

"In Teachers, the characters are exaggerated because it is a comedy drama.

In real life, teaching is not just about money and status, as it appears to be to some characters. It is a vocation. If you don't want to do it, you won't do it well, as many of them show."

Mathew Horne plays new character Ben, the hypochondriac, atheist RE teacher, and has been a fan of the award-winning series since he was at college.

"Being back in the setting of a comprehensive school was strange, but then the teachers in the series are not representative of the profession itself," he said. "They are more child-like than the pupils and that concept is a fantastic premise for a show. I also think it makes teaching look like a fantastic profession.

"Everyone has had experience of school at some point, so at some level they can relate to it. It is hyper-real and irreverent. Having been a viewer myself, that is what makes it so appealing."

Another new addition to the award-winning drama, Lee Williams, stars as the unwitting heart-throb Ewan. He admitted his role made him see teaching in a new light.

The 30-year-old, probably best known for playing Jon Forsyte in a recent remake of The Forsyte Saga, said: "I have scenes in which I am teaching Othello, and for a split second I can imagine what it must be like to be a great teacher. It is a job I could easily get into.

"I would probably never do it because I love acting, but it must be wonderful to be one of those teachers that children grow up remembering.

"If I had to be anyone in another life, I would have liked to have been that teacher."

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