Big School is a British Sitcom that began last year and was highly successful and incredibly popular. It has a common set up, being set in a regular secondary school, but the two main roles are filled by the nation’s sweethearts, and comedy legends, Catherine Tate and David Walliams. The double act is striking because it blends two of the biggest comic actors from when I was very young, and I wouldn’t necessarily have thought they could work so well together. But, God, do they.
We all know that Walliams is a brilliant character actor from his memorable performances in Little Britain, but here he plays a character I have never seen him attempt before. Socially inept and shockingly childish, Mr Church is a Chemistry teacher at Greybridge School. Upon the arrival of the new French teacher, Miss Postern (Tate), Church falls head over heels in love and makes it his mission to sweep her off her feet.
Tate and Walliams’ personalities bounce off each other fluently and with great ease. They compliment one another with their quick, abrasive dialogue and clearly find each other utterly hilarious. Their obvious compatibility makes this programme a very easy and enjoyable one to watch, with the help of Philip Glenister’s role of PE teacher, Mr Gunn. Trevor Gunn is painfully dense but also very likeable. He has a fantastic screen presence, and a certain vulnerability that makes him very endearing.
Another stand out performance is that of Frances de la Tour, who plays the role of Ms Baron, the abhorrent but hysterically funny headmistress of Greybridge. Her character is similar to that of Michelle Gomez’s Sue White in Green Wing but a little less insane, and significantly more hateful. Morgana Robinson pleasantly surprised us all with a guest appearance in one episode as Miss Postern’s school ‘friend’ turned novelist who seems somewhat more successful than the French teacher herself, much to Postern’s disgust.
The only criticism I have of this show regards a very minor detail, and that is the role of the school children at Greybridge. Individually they are all wonderful actors, of course, they wouldn’t be there otherwise, but the way the school acts as a collective seems abnormal to me- though this may be because I spend most of my life at school. And then again, Greybridge isn’t an entirely normal school, so maybe that’s just me being too rational: something that Big School definitely is not! You will have to make your own judgements in that case, and that can only be done by catching up with the whole series on BBC iPlayer.