Television’s Top 10 Schools

Jamie’s Dream School arrives on our screens this evening with the chef and part-time moral crusader making a departure from food (although obviously, he will still be eating the stuff) and persuading 20 young people who’ve left school to give education a second chance. Naturally, rather than inspire us to take to the streets to gather up the local ASBO’s and give them an educational lecture (we’d probably just get happy-slapped or something anyway), the show has provided the perfect opportunity for a round-up of tellyland’s greatest ever schools. Read on to see who made the grade.. (ahem)

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10. Erinsborough High – Neighbours

Erinsborough High is the kind of school where, no matter what class you’re in, Susan Kennedy will always either: a) be teaching it, b) enter the room at least once, c) in her absence be there in ‘spirit’ through her teacher daughter Libby. You can’t question it; that’s just how Erinsborough High rolls…

Similarly most of the residents of Ramsay Street have at some point either attended or worked at the school previously. Again, don’t ponder it (maybe it’s the only school in the catchment area ok?), just go with it.

9. The Demon Headmaster

Hands up who remembers the frankly rather sinister Demon Headmaster? The BBC One children’s programme – based on the books of the same title by Gillian Cross – was set at a school (er we don’t quite remember the name of it), where the headmaster had a set of hypnotising eyes capable of making pupils talk like robots, do weird things and wreak some kind of Orwellian nightmare for the pupils. The sicko even had an evil plan to create a world without love and happiness and free will and stuff, but luckily, protagonist Dinah was so on to him…

8. Sweet Valley High – Sweet Valley High

Sweet Valley High was the kids show that, as an impressionable little’un, made you want to be blonde, a twin, drive a jeep, and go to an American High School. It’s not much to ask, is it?

The show was based on Francine Pascal’s book series of the same name, and followed the lives of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield (ah yes, that was number five on the wishlist: have the way cool surname of Wakefield), a beautiful set of twins who lived in the fictitious Sweet Valley in California. Yes, it was quite the idyllic lifestyle that Pascal created, and one that we could all, like totally relate to. Hmm…

7. Summerdown Comprehensive – Teachers

Channel 4’s comedy Teachers came along in 2001 and reminded us all that teachers are after all, normal human beings just like everyone else. It also just so happened to remind us of what we were all really thinking about our own educators: Mr Smith is a perv; Miss Adams is a slut, Mr Jones is definitely gay and Mrs Brown is actually a complete dimwit…

6. Springfield Elementary – The Simpsons

Underfunded and pretty much incompetent, Springfield Elementary is the ultimate disastrous school of cartoon (well, that and South Park Elementary). With a hopeless school principle (Seymour Skinner), chain-smoking indifferent teachers (Skinner’s love interest Mrs Krabappel) and a stoned school bus driver (Otto Mann) hands up who’s getting flashbacks of their own primary school?

5. Rudge Park Comprehensive – The Inbetweeners

Rudge Park Comprehensive is otherwise known as the educational home of The Inbetweeners boys, who attend the sixth form there. Rudge Park has of course witnessed many a host of embarrassing common room sex stories, provided the location for the school’s charity catwalk (the now infamous ‘ball slip’ episode) and counts miserly ‘in the wrong job’ Mr Gilbert as its head of Sixth. Quite a school, that…

4. William McKinley High School – Glee

Simultaneously making musicals relevant again, as well as sparking a resurgence in parents desperate to send their kids off to stage school (well, probably); the all singing, all dancing pupils of William McKinley High School are part of the phenomenon that is Glee. A bunch of geeks, jocks and outsiders all with varying teenage related problems (pregnancy, homosexuality, and um the ‘teen issue’ of ejaculating into a hot tub, anyone?) this motley crew work through their problems to the soundtrack of Journey and Madonna. As you do. Such is the show’s success, that a law has in fact since been passed banning Glee’s exclusion from any ‘TV’s Best Schools’ based lists. Though we might have made that bit up…

3. Bayside High – Saved By The Bell

Ah, Saved By The Bell. The American high school sitcom that will forever be synonymous with really bad late eighties/early nineties threads, the geek legend that was Screech, and that-girl-off-Saved-By-The-Bell-Elizabeth-Berkley, who shook off her (mildly) wholesome image and got all naked for Showgirls

Perhaps the greatest Saved By The Bell piece of trivia EVER, is the fact that Dustin Diamond – aka Screech Powers, aka the UNLIKLIEST OF LOTHARIOS – went on to star in his very own ‘leaked’ sex tape with two women. His agent acquired the rights to said sex tape and christened it ‘Saved By The Smell’. Yes, really.

2. Summer Heights High – Summer Heights High

Summer Heights High (along with Kath and Kim) was the ticket to putting Australian comedy back on the map (before it was just Dame Edna and… um… Eric Bana in his stand-up phase?) The high-school mockumentary series was written by Chris Lilley, and parodied Aussie high school life through its three main characters, all hilariously played by Lilley himself. Who could forget Mr G, an effeminate drama teacher who contributed notable musicals to the school such as Tsunamarama, a musical based on the Tsunami and set to the music of Bananarama? Or how about Ja’mie King (it’s pronounced ‘Ja-may’ darling), the bitchy queen bee socialite; and not forgetting Jonah – a wayward pupil who emigrated from Tonga and has a fondness for, ahem, penis graffiti, his ‘signature’ tag being the word ‘Dick-tation’. Mockumentary comedy at its best…

1. Grange Hill – Grange Hill

Grange Hill is surely the definitive TV school, spawning the trend for hard hitting, gritty teen dramas. Beginning on BBC1 way back in 1978, the show created by (now CBE) Phil Redmond was set at the same titled comprehensive school in the fictional North London borough of ‘Northam’. It would go on to court controversy and push the boundaries with its subject matter, which included everything from Zammo’s heroin addiction to sinister school bully Sean who slashed the face of a female pupil with a knife (yes, hints of knife crime in 1998).

Despite the tabloid storm at the time of said heroin storyline, the cast released the single ‘Just Say No’, and found themselves on an anti-drugs tour which would see them invited to the White House by America’s First Lady, Nancy Reagan. Actor Mmloki Chrystie admittedly tarnished this campaign slightly in 2005, when he confessed in a Grange Hill reunion special that he took drugs while in the States to promote the campaign. Oh dear…

The show sadly met its demise 30 years later in 2008, but thankfully (or rather dubiously) we still have Redmond-created Hollyoaks on our screens. Check out the below clip when little mite Kevin Jenkins takes acid at school and goes a wee bit berserk…

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