Com­edy of young ter­rors was al­ways a class act

It’s back to school as we re­mem­ber TV hit, Please Sir!

South Wales Echo - - Tv Repeat -

THE an­ar­chic class of 5C were the night­mare of every teacher at Fenn Street Sec­ondary Modern school. Staff would do any­thing to avoid be­ing stuck with them for a les­son, but newly qual­i­fied teacher Bernard Hodges saw the mis­fits as a chal­lenge.

John Alder­ton, who had pre­vi­ously ap­peared as Dr Moon in hospi­tal drama Emer­gency Ward 10, played the teach­ing new­bie with Peter Cleall as class­room leader Duffy, Mal­colm McFee as smooth charmer Craven and David Barry as tough guy wannabe Ab­bott.

The 5C ac­tors were all older than the fifth form teenagers they were meant to be play­ing, but that did not prove a stum­bling block as view­ers hap­pily sus­pended dis­be­lief for the sake of the com­edy lines.

The cast also in­cluded Derek Guyler as of­fi­cious school care­taker Pot­ter, Richard Davies as Welsh-born teacher Price and Noel Howlett and Joan San­der­son as the head­mas­ter and the as­sis­tant head of the school.

Lon­don Week­end Tele­vi­sion called Please, Sir! “an ed­u­ca­tion in com­edy” when it first ap­peared on TV screens 50 years ago on Novem­ber 11.

The sit­com ran un­til 1972 and proved so pop­u­lar that a film ver­sion was also re­leased in 1971 fea­tur­ing the orig­i­nal TV cast and show­ing a fool­hardy Hodges tak­ing his un­ruly charges away on a school trip to an out­door pur­suit cen­tre.

Writ­ers John Es­monde and Bob Lar­bey went on to pen a string of sit­com favourites in­clud­ing The Good

Life, Ever De­creas­ing Cir­cles and As Time Goes By.

They also wrote spin-off se­ries The Fenn Street Gang in 1971 which fol­lowed the for­tunes of the pupils af­ter they had left school.

The Amer­i­can ver­sion of Please, Sir! – made by ABC as Wel­come Back, Kot­ter – be­gan in the US in 1975 and saw a 24-year-old John Tra­volta as wise­crack­ing in­ner-city kid Vin­cent “Vin­nie” Bar­barino.

Record pro­duc­ers signed him up when they saw him singing Bar­bara Anne by the Beach Boys on the show and he had a top 20 hit sin­gle in 1976 with Let Her In.

John Alder­ton as Bernard Hodges with Carol Hawkins who was the sec­ond ac­tress to take the role of Sharon

Derek Guyler as Pot­ter, left, and, above, the orig­i­nal cast of 5C. View­ers didn’t seem to mind that the ‘teenagers’ were all played by much older ac­tors

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