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Chalk (BBC-1 1997, David Bamber, John Wells )

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Chalk stars David Bamber as Eric Slatt, the Deputy Head from Hell at Galfast High school – eight hundred and nine children, thirty-two teachers (thirty-six if you count the art department) – and John Wells as the Headmaster.

Welcome to the stressed concrete jungle of the thoroughly modern comprehensive – where only the science department matters a damn, where exam result league tables are the only reality, and only the gifted kids get an education because it’s so much more worthwhile (easy).

Welcome to the twisted world and stalled career of Eric Slatt, Deputy Head, trapped just below his forties and a marginally sane Headmaster, and seething with fury at the encroaching dangers of socialism, arts subjects, and single parent families; dreaming one day of his own school, where all the kids wear uniforms and the science department has consumed the entire curriculum…

Meet Suzy Travis (Nicola Walker), fresh out of teacher training college, and the lone voice of sanity at Galfast High – and (she dearly hopes) the number one thorn in the side of Eric Slatt…

Because of the very good reaction of the studio audience, a second series was commissioned before the first had been broadcast. However, several journalists were critical of the show, highlighting stylistic similarities to Fawlty Towers.

The series also came in for criticism from sections of the teaching profession and its unions who objected to the negative representation of teachers and the comprehensive system. The second series did not receive a stable broadcast slot, with many episodes aired after 10pm and it was that more than anything else that led to it’s demise.

production details
UK | BBC One | 12×30 minutes | Broadcast 20 February – 22 October 1997

Writer: Steven Moffatt
Producer: Andre Masyznski
Executive Producer: Kevin Lygo
Director: Juliet May

cast
David Bamber as Eric Slatt
John Wells as Mr Nixon(Season 1)
Nicola Walker as Suzy Travis
Amanda Boxer as Amanda Trippley
John Grillo as Mr Carkdale
Martin Ball as Dan McGill