Episode One - "The Visit"
Transmitted on 24th February 1987 at 8PM
As children arrive at school at the beginning of the day, Mr Fowl is in the main hall carrying out a uniform check. With him is Mr Philpott, who is not yet a fully qualified teacher; he is on placement from teacher training college. At the same time, the South African Ambassador to the UK, Mr van der Git, is driving to the school with his wife and their son, Smutts. They are intending to enrol Smutts into Hardwicke House and had previously been in contact with Mr Mackintosh, the deputy headmaster, to make the arrangements.
When Mrs van der Git enters the school, she first encounters Ernie, the head caretaker. Ernie refuses to take Mrs van der Git and her son to the headmaster's office but offers to at least telephone the school secretary, Agnes (who is also his wife), to pass on the message that the Ambassadors' wife has arrived. Mrs van der Git then makes her own way to the headmaster's office. However, Mr Mackintosh has failed to inform the headmaster, Mr Wickham, that the Ambassador's son is to be enroled into the school. Mr Mackintosh himself has forgotten about Smutts' pre-arranged arrival and makes a pathetic attempt to decorate the corridor outside his own office with potted plants.
Initially, Mr Wickham thinks that Mrs van der Git is simply a parent of one of the existing pupils and is horrified to find out her actual status. He agrees to take Mrs van der Git and Smutts on a tour of the school but is sidetracked by a telephone call from his wife. Mr Mackintosh helpfully steps in and offers to conduct the tour.
The tour takes in several classes throughout Hardwicke House and Mr Mackintosh takes every opportunity to belittle the headmaster and promote himself as a man of great integrity and efficiency. Meanwhile, Mr Wickham rushes around the school trying to locate the tour party. During the tour and Mr Wickham's frantic search, a number of classes are featured; Mr Flashman's history class, which involves having one of the pupils marking work for him and having another pupil analysing the entries in a horse race he intends to bet on; Mr Magnusson's maths class, in which the pupils struggle to complete even the simplest sums; Mr Fowl's English class, over which he rules ruthlessly; and Mr Philpott's geography class, which is in a state of utter chaos with children playing, squabbling, shouting and paying no attention to him at all. Also featured is Miss Crabbe's French class, and when she is advised that a South African is in the building she immediately organises her class into a protest march in the playground (at the time South Africa had its repulsive aparthied policy in place). While Mr Wickham is away from his office, Slasher Bates, the school bully, uses it to recruit members for his new gang.
Mr Wickham eventually catches up with the tour party outside Mr Magnusson's class and shortly afterwards the bell rings to signal the lunch break. Knowing that there will rapidly be a rampaging mass of pupils surging through the corridors, Mr Wickham bundles Mrs van der Git into a storage room to prevent her from being trampled. Mr Wickham himself is helplessly swept along with the mass of pupils and is outside the main entrance to the building before he regains his own footing. Returning into the building, he is dismayed to find that Mrs van der Git is locked in the storage room and that Smutts is missing.
Smutts is later seen in the playground during the lunch break, having been used as a makeshift goal post in a game of soccer. Mr Wickham attempts to free Mrs van der Git from the storage room but inadvertently snaps the key in the lock. He calls on Ernie's assistance to get the broken part of the key out of the lock and release Mrs van der Git. But by the time Ernie achieves this the bell rings again, this time to signal the end of the school day. With Mr Wickham, Mr Mackintosh, Ernie and one of Ernie's assistants all present, another rampaging mass of pupils begins to form and this quartet enter the storage room with Mrs van der Git for their own safety.
Roy Kinnear played Mr Wickham (the headmaster)
Outside the school grounds, local residents dash inside their homes as they anticipate the huge throng of pupils that will shortly be storming through the neighbourhood.
The episode closes with Mr Wickham writing a letter of apology to Mrs van der Git, who is apparently now in hospital. Smutts is still missing but in a shot of a towering chimney in the school grounds, his faint voice can be heard coming from inside it.
There are two probable elements of this episode that would generate a complaint. The first concerns Slasher Bates, who is seen dangling an unfortunate victim upside down over a staircase bannister, holding the victim by his ankles. During Mr Wickham's search for Mrs van der Git, he encounters Slasher, who is in turn distracted and the victim slips through his fingers. A close inspection will reveal that the feet and ankles (the only parts of the victim that are visible) are clearly fake. The victim is not seen hitting the ground and there is no sound of him landing either. The scene is actually quite harmless and much worse has been seen in an episode of "Tom & Jerry".
The second element is the actions of Mr Mackintosh and, to a lesser extent, Mr Flashman. Both Mr Mackintosh and Mr Flashman are quite infatuated with Donna, the head girl. In fact, Mr Mackintosh has cajoled Donna into wearing a black leather dress, which is short enough to reveal most of her shapely legs. Later she is sporting a saucy nurse's uniform. Is this going too far, with overtones of paedaphilia? In this case, no. Donna is in the sixth form and is therefore over sixteen years old. Of course, she is still a pupil and teachers leering over her may be uncomfortable for some viewers, but in this episode it is not carried out in a gratuitous way and it is no worse than watching one of the "Carry On..." movies.
However, in another scene Mr Mackintosh does give a rather dubious lecture to new pupils who are just starting at the school. Admittedly, all he does is question them on any thoughts or desires they may have now that they are entering puberty. This is not paedaphilia in the strict sense of the term. He is not making sexual advances towards any of the children and does not indicate that he has any actual sexual attraction to them. Is it any worse than asking 'Who do you fancy?' Again, some viewers may find Mr Mackintosh's lecture (which is only brief) somewhat uncomfortable, but it is not graphic and nothing happens either during it or because of it.
Overall, there is nothing overtly offensive about this episode, though it does not seem appropriate for an 8PM time slot. Move it to 10PM and any uproar would likely have been only minor. But bear this in mind; in the movie "Carry On Camping" an excursion of school girls (one of whom is Barbara Windsor) travel to a camp site and they are persistently leered over and pursued by the likes of Sidney James and Bernard Bresslaw. How much of an uproar does "Carry On Camping" receive whenever it is televised?