Little Britain 'makes pupils behave badly'

Teachers blame sketch show and 'Big Brother' for rudeness and excessive swearing in the classroom

Education Editor,Richard Garner
Tuesday 31 March 2009 00:00 BST

Television executives are to be urged by schoolteachers to tone down the language and behaviour shown in programmes because pupils are copying what they see and hear in the classroom.

A survey of almost 800 teachers found that the rudest behaviour in the classroom was caused by pupils copying Big Brother and Little Britain.

Two-thirds of teachers said they believed Big Brother had led to bad or inappropriate behaviour in their school – while 61 per cent cited Little Britain.

Other offenders include Waterloo Road – the BBC1 drama about a comprehensive school – which encourages pupils to wear their uniforms in a sloppy fashion and The Catherine Tate Show which has prompted pupils to reply to teachers with the Lauren Cooper catchphrases "Whatev-ah!" and "Am I Bovvered?"

The survey was told of one boy with behavioural difficulties who kept hitting himself on the head and saying "Doh!" – mimicking what he had seen on The Simpsons.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which conducted the survey, said: "School staff believe that television has an even greater influence on the behaviour of young people than computer and video games.

"More and more pupils believe the violence depicted on television and computer games is cool, heroic and something they want to emulate.

"It is not just aggressive behaviour – our members face swearing, inappropriate language and general rudeness on a daily basis, which is frequently picked up from the TV programmes pupils are watching."

Next week's annual conference of the union will be urged to seek a meeting with TV executives to ask them to take more responsibility for the characters they are creating and the effect which they have in the classroom.

"I know we can't have a Famous Five world and that we have to deal with difficult issues but children are watching these programmes and seeing inappropriate behaviour on their screens," said Dr Bousted.

The survey revealed that 88 per cent of teachers believed the level of general rudeness in the classroom had increased as a result of the TV programmes children were watching.

Three out of four believed that TV programmes should be given an age classification in the same way as films at the cinema.

The worst offenders

Big Brother

Causes general rudeness in class and use of the word "nigger" as used in Celebrity Big Brother.

Little Britain

Causes a lot of answering back.

The Catherine Tate Show

Prompts the use of catchphrases such as "Whatev-ah!" and "Am I bovvered?" as retorts to teachers.

The Jeremy Kyle Show

Children scream at each other in class and have walked out.

Waterloo Road

Uniform poorly worn.

The Simpsons

Examples include a child with behavioural difficulties constantly hitting himself about the head and saying "Doh!"


Girls aged six and seven using sexually explicit language in the playground.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Led to knives being brought into the classroom and sexually inappropriate language.

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