Miss Chandley and Mr Zacharias by Tyger Drew-Honey
When I arrived as a day boy at Epsom College in Surrey, everyone knew I was on TV and that my parents had worked in the porn industry [Tyger’s parents have both had careers in adult entertainment]. I did get bullied initially, but people got used to it quickly and then accepted me for who I was.
I enjoyed school and had two brilliant teachers there. Miss Chandley was my drama teacher. She was such a big personality, so loud and amazingly mental. The first thing she said to our class was: “Hi, I’m Kim Chandley. I’ve been proposed to twice but marriage isn’t for me.” She did so much for us and put in such a lot of work. She took the drama scholars to New York for five days when we were 15 and we saw a different Broadway show every night.
Miss Chandley never made a big deal about the fact that I was on TV. When it came to the practical side of drama GCSE, you might think my screen experience would have put me at a slight advantage. Yet so much of it was about theatre – staging, lighting, props, essay writing – and as this was all new to me, it was a level playing field.
The other brilliant teacher at Epsom was Mr Zacharias, who taught English. He was like your cool older brother. He was a bit of a hippy, in his mid thirties, and he had been backpacking around the world. The desktop background on his computer was a picture of him and his friends on top of a mountain.
Mr Zacharias reinforced how important it is to be a nice man. I think he was everyone’s favourite teacher
He used to drink this tea throughout lessons – it was called Yerba Mate, a South American tea where you fill a cup with leaves, put a bit of water on it, put in a straw with a filter on the end and suck the juice out. He used to give it out as a reward. If you’d done something good in class you could have your own cup for the lesson. Let’s just say it was an acquired taste.
Mr Zacharias reinforced how important it is to be a nice man. I think he was everyone’s favourite teacher. He wasn’t a pushover but he made boring books interesting and he made school fun. He didn’t even mind when a kid accidentally punched a hole in a temporary wall on the last day of term.
When I was filming Outnumbered, I missed 30 to 40 per cent of the school year. I had a tutor on set for three hours a day, who liaised with my teachers to ensure that I was doing what everyone else was doing in class. It meant I never fell behind and I never felt lost when I went back to school.
I left school at 16. At that stage, my parents had split up and the fees were expensive. I had an opportunity to pay for them myself but it would have used up almost all the money I’d earned, so I did some A levels on my own – French, Spanish and Psychology – with textbooks and then went into school to sit them. I got a B, a C and an E. I might consider university later.
The last time that I saw Miss Chandley, she had her hands full of books so I couldn’t give her a hug. I said, “I promise I’ll come back and give you a hug soon.” Four years on and I haven’t stood up to that promise. But I will do – I’ll visit them both.
Tyger Drew-Honey was speaking to Kate Bohdanowicz. Outnumbered is coming back for a Christmas special later this year. Cuckoo will return for a fourth series in 2017.