Big School, series 2 episode 1 – 9.30 BBC One, Friday 29th August
It may be start of a new year at Greybridge School, but the teaching staff are as dysfunctional as ever as Big School returns to BBC One for a brand-new term. In the opening episode, Miss Postern (Catherine Tate) and Mr Church’s (David Walliams) relationship has taken a downward turn after a misunderstanding over a date and the woefully underqualified Mr Gunn (Philip Glenister) is now teaching geography as Mr Barber’s (Steve Spiers) got a new job as the school caretaker.
When Miss Postern sets up a careers workshop, it seems her slogan ‘Which way now?’ applies as much to her as it does her pupils, not least because the guest speaker is her old teacher training colleague (and now best-selling children’s author) Fenella Forbes.
But at least things are looking up for one member of staff, as it seems Mr Martin (Daniel Rigby) is about to launch a successful pop career…
Here’s what Phil has to say about the new series:
Are you pleased to be back at Greybridge once again?
I like the chance to do comedy and mix it all up and Big School is a lovely ensemble piece.
At the start of the new series, we learn that Mr Gunn is trying his hand at becoming the new geography teacher. Does this mean he has put his old ways behind him and is becoming more responsible and grown up?
I think the whole thing about Mr Gunn is that he is all mouth and terrible tracksuit trousers! I think for that reason I couldn’t imagine he has had a woman in his entire life! There is one storyline coming up in which he may have to show signs of maturity but this is the world of comedy, so his actions are not baited in any kind of reality. Playing him is a nice bit of fun really.
There are loads of great guest stars this series and we even get to meet Mr Gunn’s mum, played by Michele Dotrice. What was it like working with her?
I’ve worked with Michele before years ago when we did a TV mini-series called Vanity Fair, that is going back a few years now. In fact another of the guests in Big School, Sylvestra Le Touzel, was also in that series too. The casting for Big School is really fun though. Michele is something of a legend in the world of comedy as she was part of one of the all-time great sitcoms in Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em so it was a nice touch to get her in. It was great to have someone of her standing to be in the show.
Mr Gunn tries hard to assert himself in the staff room. Do you think the other teachers actually respect him?
I don’t think the other teachers even notice him half the time. Being a PE Teacher in a school is like being the drummer in a band, I think that is very much Mr Gunn. In fact I am playing him and I don’t take him seriously, so I am pretty sure that nobody else would.
Do you have a favourite character that you like playing opposite?
We had good fun filming the scenes with Steve Spiers and Michele Dotrice who play Mr Barber and my mum. I won’t spoil it but in one episode Barber moves into the Gunn household with me basically. We had a couple of days doing all of our stuff and we had a very funny scene where we couldn’t keep it together at all and all we could do was laugh. It’s great to have days like that.
Does working on a series like Big School bring back memories of your own schooldays? Did you ever encounter anyone like Mr Gunn at your own school?
I used to have quite nice PE teachers at school so the character is definitely not based on any of them. If they confiscated our cigarettes they would at least give us money for them! I suppose everyone has a story of their PE teacher and I seem to remember we had about three – they were all fine.
And finally, has Mr Gunn moved out of home and got his own bachelor pad yet?
I don’t think Mr Gunn would be capable of moving out of home. I think he is the epitome of the stay-at-home son. He’s horrible! He is just a bit of a saddo really.