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July 19, 2019
Today we’re going to look at a controversial TV show from Britain that you’re probably never heard of before. To be honest, I had only heard the name of the show, but didn’t know the story behind it, and I’m a pretty huge Anglophile.
Longtime PopCult buddy, Spike Nesmith of Sky 1065 in Clarksburg fame, turned me on to the story of this show via Facebook, and it’s a heck of a tale of corporate broadcast skittishness.
Hardwicke House was supposed to be a regular sitcom when it debuted on Britain’s ad-supported, over the air network ITV in 1987. Set in a fictional London school, the show’s focus was mainly on the teachers, who were an odd lot of discipinarians, slackers and crackpots. The students had their own issues as well. The series of seven episodes kicked off with a one-hour debut, followed the next day by a standard half-hour program.
Then a few weeks ago master tape copies of all seven episodes were posted to YouTube, where you can watch them all for free…at least for now. The most shocking thing about watching these today is how inoffensive they seem. Our culture has changed quite a bit in the ensuing 32 years.
To prove that point, how about we post all seven episodes right here:
Episode One: “The Visit” The one-hour debut introduces the main characters and shows what happens when the South African Ambassador to the UK visits the school.
You can see the rest of the series after the jump…
Episode Two – “First Day Of Term” Students plan a heist of the new shipment of paper and supplies.
Episode Three – “Interview Day” The teachers vie for a new position.
Episode Four – “Prize-Giving” During an assembly to show parents how their students are doing, some of the kids plot to steal parts from the cars in the parking lot.
Episode Five – “Old Boys” Guest stars Ade Edmonson and Rik Mayall are former students turned loan sharks who return to settle a debt incurred by one of the teachers.
Episode Six – “An Inspector Calls” A newbie teacher has to pass an inspection in order to continue teaching at the school.
Episode Seven – “Passion Play” The students put on a play about the Crucifixion of Jesus.
All in all, Hardwicke House is not that shocking, and ITV’s suppression of the series for so long certainly doesn’t make much sense. Still, it’s fun to watch a well-crafted British sitcom that was trying to be cutting edge and traditional at the same time, and the cast is top-notch.
That is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for all our regular features.