Big School series 2, BBC One, review: Doesn’t make the grade. Must try harder

The second series of the school-based sitcom returns with a dire episode that only vaguely improves towards the end

It seems that Friday night comedy is just not what it used to be. Tonight saw the return of David Walliams’sitcom the about unrequited love in the staffroom at Greybridge School.

Unfortunately, the problem with Big School  is that it's trying too hard to be funny. It’s as if Walliams, dressed as Vulva from Spaced  and brandishing a cane in one hand, is looming behind the sofa bellowing: “THIS IS COMEDY GOLD! YOU MUST LAUGH!”, but no such opportunity arises. 

Both Walliams and Catherine Tate fail to elicit the laughs despite rising to fame on their own comedy shows. Oh, the irony. 

If anything, the only tender moment comes when Mr Church comforts Sarah Postern at the end, which is more drama than comedy.

Tate's character Sarah Postern is generically annoying and has nothing remotely likeable about her. She is supposed to be the lead and yet there is very little sympathy for her.

When she invites an old friend from teacher training college and ends up having an aggressive face off with her in front of a group of pupils, viewers are supposed to feel a little sorry for Sarah - but they don't.

Perhaps the most painful "comedy" moment of this episode was when her character attempts to speak Chinese. It may have just about cut it by Little Britain standards but the scene is just offensive and horrendous in Big School.  

Even Philip Glenister’s Trevor Gunn, the boorish PE and “geo-graphy” teacher with questionable facial hair, misses the comedy funny bone in Big School.

Glenister is best known for his role as the ‘ard as nails copper Gene Hunt in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes and the contrast between Hunt and Gunn should be funny in itself but it just isn’t.

The problem with this show is that it isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. Is it a surreal comedy, courtesy of the caretaker being fed fish fingers through the canteen window? Is it a dramatic comedy, as the heart-to-heart between Mr Church and Miss Postern would suggest? Or it is the cringe-y schoolboy humour of Little Britain when Miss Postern’s attempts to “speak” Chinese? 

Little Britain worked so well was because it was crass, silly and excruciatingly honest. When viewers watched it, they knew exactly what was in store.

But Big School seems to trying to be too many different things and the comedy suffers as a consequence. It was more like a set of sketches badly stitched together.   

As Friday night sitcoms go, it’s certainly no My Family or Mrs Brown’s Boys.    

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week