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Episode Six - "An Inspector Calls"

Scheduled for transmission on 25th March 1987 but not shown

Mr Philpott is in a class room delivering a harsh, no-nonsense speech. Outside, he is heard by Mr Flashman, who is surprised by Mr Philpott being so forthright. Curious, he steps inside to find that Mr Philpott is speaking to an empty room; he is practicing being forthright because he is due to be monitored by a school inspector later that day.

Mr Flashman walks with Mr Philpott to the staff room and gives him some advice on how to control a class. On the way, they stop outside a boys' toilet and Mr Flashman demonstrates how he is able to control the pupils with one of Slasher Bates' gang. Slasher is inside the boys' toilet and Mr Flashman indicates that he has a 'business proposition' for him.

In a corridor, Mr Fowl bumps into a man wearing a leather jacket who is looking for the staff room. Mr Fowl makes a snide remark about the man being 'scruffy' and points him in the right direction.

In the staff room, Miss Crabbe is reading a newspaper and complaining that a protest march about tuna fish, which she arranged, has not got any coverage. The man wearing the leather jacket arrives and he is revealed to be the school inspector who is there to assess Mr Philpott. Also in the room are Mr Savage and Mr Magnusson, and the inspector is soon involved in a conversation about his role.

Mr Fowl enters and overhears the conversation but does not know that the man in the leather jacket is an inspector. He proceeds to ridicule inspectors and states that children deserve to be thrashed. He is horrified to learn that he is in fact in the presence of an inspector and immediately tries to unconvincingly cover his tracks.

Meanwhile, Mr Philpott nervously enters his class room, receiving a few last words of encouragement from Mr Flashman. Mr Philpott is then shocked to witness his class behaving themselves and actually being keen to do some work. Deluded into thinking that he has finally earned their respect, Mr Philpott begins acting cocky and issuing taunts, particularly at Slasher, who must use all his willpower to not retaliate.

The inspector is about to arrive at Mr Philpott's class when Mr Fowl catches up with him. Mr Fowl then makes a pathetic attempt to create a favourable impression but this proves futile when some children run away from him in fear.

Once inside the class room, the inspector is pleased to see that Mr Philpott is reigning over an obedient, subdued batch of pupils and he informs Mr Philpott that he has passed. Mr Philpott is thrilled and the inspector departs.
Tony Haygarth played Mr Savage (the PE teacher)
Mr Philpott is now alone with his class and continues to act in a cocky manner. But Slasher reveals that the class are only being obedient because Mr Flashman promised them that Mr Philpott would pay them to behave themselves. Mr Philpott denies any knowledge of this agreement and the class menacingly move in on him.

As the inspector strolls down a corridor, Mr Fowl coerces him into the class room he is currently using. Mr Fowl has pre-arranged for the pupils to sing a song called "Happiness" (originally made famous by comedian Ken Dodd) and he has decorated the room with brightly-coloured balloons. Next, Mr Fowl prompts some of the children to make compliments about him (obviously premeditated) but the inspector is not fooled by this charade. He asks the children what they really think of Mr Fowl's lessons and naturally it is not positive. Dismayed, the inspector leaves and Mr Fowl produces a box of soap powder, telling the class to 'get out the spoons'.

In the staff room, Mr Wickham and Mr Mackintosh are fully expecting Mr Philpott to be failed by the inspector and they debate over how they should break the news to Mr Philpott. When Mr Philpott arrives, they don't believe him when he tells them that he has passed. He borrows some money from Mr Wickham so that he can pay the class the bonus Mr Flashman had promised them for behaving. Miss Crabbe enters and she doesn't believe that Mr Philpott has passed either.

The inspector comes into the staff room and confirms that Mr Philpott has indeed passed. Shortly, Mr Fowl appears and tries to make out that he is delighted for Mr Philpott and that he had personally coached him to help him pass. The inspector informs Mr Wickham that he wants to speak with him privately.

Mr Philpott is genuinely dejected that his fellow teachers were all convinced that he would fail and he sadly walks out of the staff room.

In the headmaster's office, Mr Wickham and Mr Mackintosh are told by the inspector that Mr Fowl is possibly being abusive to the pupils. Mr Wickham and Mr Mackintosh weakly claim that Mr Fowl is a highly efficient and respected teacher and that he wouldn't be capable of any cruelty. The inspector seems to accept their claim and bids them farewell.

Back in the staff room, a woman named Tabitha enters and greets Miss Crabbe; they are old acquaintances. Mr Fowl is still there and he once again ridicules the role of inspectors, bragging that he fooled the one that visited today. His bragging rapidly turns to panic when the inspector returns and it is revealed that Tabitha is his wife.

Outside the school grounds, Miss Crabbe is walking away with the inspector and his wife. Mr Fowl rushes after them, pathetically trying to apologize. But he is distracted when he sees his car (a Ford Anglia) being towed away. Interestingly, this is the first scene in the series which takes place outside of the school grounds.

This is certainly a harmless episode, with the only aspect that could remotely be deemed offensive being the implication of Mr Fowl feeding the children soap powder. But it is only an implication. It is also clear (and should have been clear with the first episode) that "Hardwicke House" does not take place in the realms of reality; it is set in a cartoon-like fantasy world with larger-than-life characters and obviously should not be taken seriously.

It could easily be compared to the "St Trinian's" movies as there are distinct similarities; both feature outlandish teachers, both feature unruly pupils and both feature a chaotic, disorganised school. But there is no media furore whenever one of the "St Trinian's" movies is televised. In fact, the earlier "St Trinian's" movies made between 1954 and 1966 are held in high regard and with great affection. The rebooting of the original, made in 2007, is more outrageous but it still didn't receive widespread condemnation. "Hardwicke House" is certainly not more offensive than any of the "St Trinian's" movies.
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