Bad Education, a new sitcom on BBC Three, fervently hopes you have either never seen Teachers or found it too long or subtle. Teachers was (for the first three series, at least) a very funny comedic drama about a group of teachers at an inner city comprehensive. Bad Education is more of a sitcom, with more broadly defined characters, a stack of cyphers and running jokes after just two episodes.
Bluntly, it isn’t very good. Where Teachers would exaggerate for comedic effect and have moments of absurdity in the background, Bad Education doesn’t even seek to attempt anything like realism. While this isn’t necessarily a detriment to comedy, it completely wrecks any attempts at character moments and leaves precious little else to hold the viewer’s attention when the comedy elements are (as they often fail to be) crushingly unfunny.
The main character is a posh teacher with webbed feet who allows himself to be bullied by pupils, is lazy, incompetent and has a crush on another teacher. We’re meant to care about the fact he has a crush and sympathise with him, but the situations he finds himself in means it is impossible to take him seriously and he is so annoying that i find myself wishing that something dreadful befalls him. Preferably something dreadful and genuinely funny.
And that is the main problem with the show: the jokes aren’t funny enough and there are too few of them. That’s not to say that there is a large gap between each joke. On the contrary: often they run one after the other or even at the same time. The problem is they are usually the very same joke, done with varying degrees of ineffectiveness, that really don’t get any more welcome through extreme repetition.
The other characters, too, are deeply annoying. The two authority figures are every bad character from every bad British sitcom (tellingly, nearly all of them commissioned by the BBC) over the last 30 years. The love interest is so wet and uninteresting it is impossible to tell why anyone would actively pursue her. And the protagonist’s behaviour around her completely vomitous.
Hopefully Bad Education won’t be recommissioned. We have a strong tradition of humorous school based comedy in this country: from Tom Brown to Molesworth, via Teachers and the recent Inbetweeners. This doesn’t follow that proud tradition and is merely one of those sitcoms on the BBC that inexplicably exists. Unfortunately they also have an annoying and utterly confusing habit of also being renewed.