"Hardwicke House" is a British sitcom, directed by John Stroud and featuring Roy Kinnear heading the cast. Only one series was made, which consisted of seven episodes, and it was scheduled to be shown on the ITV network beginning on 24th February 1987. It is not surprising if few people have any recollection of it because only the first two episodes were screened and it has never been repeated nor released on video or DVD. It is a classic long lost sitcom, a seemingly forgotten gem which could have developed a huge following. So why was it taken off air so quickly and then attempted to be buried without trace?
If anyone does remember it, they may also remember the storm of controversy that erupted after the opening episode was televised. It is difficult to think of another TV show that has caused such outrage to the extent that after the second episode was shown, it was taken off the air and permanently banished from public consumption. Was "Hardwicke House" so offensive that nobody should be allowed to see it again?
To summarize, "Hardwicke House" was set in a fictional school (which was the title of the show) and revolved around the teachers, who were a mixture of loafers, disciplinarians and hapless oafs. Its style of humour was a blend of slapstick and vulgarity in the shape of manic black comedy, though it was certainly not unique in that respect; numerous shows both before and since have contained the same kind of humour. However, "Hardwicke House" generated such an outcry that even while the closing credits of the first episode were rolling, there were demands that it be removed from the TV schedules immediately. These demands mainly came from the tabloid press, who rarely hesitate to blow anything out of proportion or display any sense of level-headed objectivity.
There was a rumour at the time that ITV bosses took the extreme step of actually wiping the tapes and thus erasing any possibility that anyone could ever see this sitcom again. But that rumour was false. The writers of this website have had the rare privelege of being able to view all seven episodes and this provides the additional opportunity to consider the series in its entirety. The basis of the aforementioned outcry was the treatment of children in the show, with supposed undertones of paedaphilia and cruelty being cited. If this is the reason that "Hardwicke House" has never been repeated or given a commercial release, then that reason is ludicrous and unjustifiable. By today's standards, "Hardwicke House" is quite tame. If a list were compiled of controversial TV programmes, this sitcom would struggle to be included.
Consider other sitcoms such as "Love Thy Neighbour" and "Mind Your Language", which both had aspects of racism and insulting racial stereotypes. Neither generated the same level of uproar as "Hardwicke House" or were taken off air. In addition, both are available to buy on DVD. Consider also TV shows such as "South Park", which has included foul language and blatant attacks on religion, and "The Jerry Springer Show", which has contained nudity and brawling amongst its guests. Why have they never been taken off air? There is no way that "Hardwicke House" could be considered more offensive than these programmes, which makes its banishment all the more puzzling.
However, this website is dedicated to keeping the memory of "Hardwicke House" alive and if you are curious about this sitcom then prepare to be enlightened. Here you will find a plethora of information about it. Please click on one of the links below to find out more:-
A look at the creation of "Hardwicke House" and its subsequent stormy voyage
A profile of the main teachers and pupils of "Hardwicke House"
A synopsis of all seven episodes and a verdict of how outrageous they supposedly were
A selection of little known facts about the series
A view of rare clippings from editions of "TV Times" magazine
Queries and comments can be sent to the email address below:-