Mind Your Language

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Mind Your Language
Mindyl1.jpg
Title screen
Format Comedy
Created by Vince Powell
Developed by ?
Starring Barry Evans
Zara Nutley
Albert Moses
George Camiller
Jacki Harding
Ricardo Montez
Robert Lee
Pik-Sen Lim
Kevork Malikyan
Jamila Massey
Françoise Pascal
Dino Shafeek
Anna Bergman
Tommy Godfrey
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 42 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Stuart Allen
Albert Moses
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) London Weekend Television
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Picture format 4:3
Original run 30 December 1977 (1977-12-30) – 12 April 1986 (1986-04-12)

Mind Your Language is a British comedy television series which premiered on ITV in late-1977. Produced by London Weekend Television and directed by Stuart Allen, the show is set in an adult education college in London and focuses on the English as a Foreign Language class taught by Mr Jeremy Brown, portrayed by Barry Evans, who had to deal with a motley crew of foreign students. Three series were made by LWT between 1977–79, and the show was briefly revived in 1986 with six of the original cast.

Production[edit]

The Series was commissioned by Michael Grade, LWT Director of Programmes in 1977,[1] although the series was attracting some 18 million viewers, the programme was cancelled in 1979 by Grade, who considered the stereotyping offensive, [2]

The series was sold to other countries, including Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Singapore. It was also one of the first British TV programmes shown in South Africa after the end of the boycott by the British Actors' Equity Association. It was resurrected briefly for the export market by an independent producer in the mid-1980s, though most ITV companies did not show any of the episodes made in 1986, only Anglia, Central and Granada transmitted the final 13 episodes, while Border, HTV and Tyne Tees broadcast a handful of episodes.

Various international television shows based on the premise of Mind Your Language have followed the original series. Among them are What a Country! (US), Zabaan Sambhalke (India), Second Chance! (Nigeria), Raja Kaduwa! (Sri Lanka) and Classmates (Kenya)

Recording locations[edit]

The majority of recording sessions for the first three series took place on Tuesday evenings in Studio Two at the South Bank Television Centre. The 1986 series was filmed at Uxbridge Technical College in Middlesex.

Episodes[edit]

Transmission details[edit]

London Weekend Television series[edit]

  • Series 1 (13) 30 December 1977 – 24 March 1978 · Friday 7pm.
  • Series 2 (8) 7 October-25 November 1978 · Saturday mostly 6pm.
  • Series 3 (8) 27 October-15 December 1979 · Saturday mostly 6.45pm.

Granada Television series[edit]

  • Series 4 (13) 4 January-12 April 1986 · Saturday 2:15pm

Other ITV stations which broadcast Series 4 in 1986:

  • Anglia: 9 January-1 April - All episodes
  • Central: Saturdays 1- 22 February, then 12 July- 6 September - All episodes.
  • Tyne Tees: 1 February- 29 March (9 episodes) - Certain episodes.
  • HTV: 1 February- 15 February THEN 15 November - 6 December - Certain episodes.
  • Border: Saturdays 1- 22 February ( 4 episodes) - Certain episodes.
  • TSW: 22 December.

DVD releases[edit]

The series was released as a boxed set on Region 2 DVD in 2003, and on Region 1 DVD in 2004. However, this set excludes the Series 1 episode Kill Or Cure, the Series 2 episode Don't Forget The Driver, the Series 3 episode Guilty Or Not Guilty? and all of Series 4. An alternate boxed set was released by Network DVD in November 2007 and contained all episodes of Series 1 to 3. The remaining fourth series has yet to be released on DVD.

Cast and characters[edit]

Countries Represented in Mind Your Language

School staff[edit]

  • Mr Jeremy Brown, portrayed by Barry Evans, is the English teacher and focal point of most of the series. He holds a degree from Oxford University. He is hired in the series pilot, in which he is warned that the previous teacher was driven insane by the students. Mr Brown is up to the challenge, however he often has to put up with the students' often literal, creative interpretations of the English language.
  • Miss Dolores Courtney, portrayed by Zara Nutley, is the Headmistress of the school. Ms. Courtney holds a very eminent dislike for the male sex and thinks of women as being superior over men and prefers having female teachers instead of male. She at first hesitates to hire Mr. Jeremy Brown, but puts him on a month's trial. She often takes time to drop by the classroom to check up on the progress of Mr. Brown's class, often getting disappointed. She nearly eloped with a man in her early years, but was caught and sent home by her father. However, it was revealed that she was only six-years old at the time and the "man" was eight-years old.
  • Gladys, the tea lady.
  • Sid, the caretaker.

Students[edit]

  • Giovanni Capello, portrayed by George Camiller, is a Stereotypical Italian chef, the class's loudest student and de facto class monitor. He is best friends with Max, who becomes his flatmate. Giovanni's main problem with English is understanding metaphors and large words, though he often answers wrongly on purpose to amuse the class. He often calls Mr. Brown "Professori". When shocked or surprised, he often remarks "Santa Maria" or "Holy Ravioli", and also often says "okey-kokey" instead of "okey-dokey". When he doesn't understand something he says "scusi". He has an elaborate set of first names: Giovanni Vincenzo Marco Dino Alberto Leonardo etc.
  • Anna Schmidt, portrayed by Jacki Harding, is a stereotypical 1970s German and works as an au pair. In her introduction, she refers to "German efficiency", and accordingly Anna is a hard-working student, occasionally asking legitimate questions and as the series progresses, answering Mr Brown's questions correctly. Her main problem is mixing "V"s and "W"s. She also punctuates her sentences with German words. She is shown to have exceptional physical strength and she is never reluctant to show it, often punching fellow students such as Max if they try to flirt with her. While in one episode when religion was being argued over she said that Lutheranism was the true religion but in the episode How's Your Father she said that there isn't any life after death.
  • Juan Cervantes, portrayed by Ricardo Montez, is a Spanish bartender with an optimistic streak. Juan is always laughing at himself, confident of his answers even when they are completely wrong. Early in the series Juan speaks almost no English, (apart from episode 2 where he describes Ms Courtney as "Plenty awesome, very good!") and answers everything with "por favor" (please), necessitating Giovanni to translate some key terms for him. His typical catchphrase is "s'alright!" and sometimes when he is corrected he says "Sorry, wrong number". Juan's English improved as the series went on, but he remained one of the worst speakers, often speaking a mix of English and Spanish. He cares a great deal for Mr Brown, whom he considers almost family.
  • Ranjeet Singh, portrayed by Albert Moses, is a London Underground worker from Punjab in India and a devout Sikh. He was mistaken for a Pakistani when Mr Brown asked him to sit next to his "fellow countryman" Ali Nadim in the first episode. He constantly argues with Ali, who is a Pakistani Muslim. He has a good vocabulary but tends to mix up his general knowledge, and upon being corrected he always puts his hands together and says "a thousand apologies". When angered by people, he usually threatens them with his kirpan.
  • Chung Su-Lee, portrayed by Pik-Sen Lim (Series 1–3), is a Stereotypical Chinese women in the 1970 secretary at the Chinese Embassy. She is never seen without her Little Red Book of Mao, from which she often quotes. She constantly mixes up her "R"s and "L"s. Early in the series, she had a fierce ideological rivalry with Taro, her Japanese classmate, but later in the series, he often springs to her defence when a character insults her or China. When she quotes chairman Mao Mr.Brown replies "That's a matter of opinion".
  • Tarō Nagazumi, portrayed by Robert Lee (Series 1–3) is a Japanese electronics representative. He has an ok English, but has a habit of adding "-o" to every word he says (as in "thank-o," "England-o," and so on) and always replies "Ah So!" and bows whenever he is called upon. Early in the series he is at odds with Su-Lee due to Japan and China's own political differences in the 1970s, but becomes a close friend of hers later on. He is never seen without his camera.
  • Maximillian Andrea Archimedes Papandrious, portrayed by Kevork Malikyan (Series 1–3), is a stereotypial Greek shipping office worker from Athens, and is often paired with Giovanni. He is attracted to Danielle, but as the show progresses the three become friends. Max tends to misunderstand metaphors and large words. He also has a heavy accent, which causes him to add "H" to almost every word he says. Later, he shares his flat with Giovanni, with whom he is a close friend; these two characters have the best command of the English language of all the students in the series.
  • Danielle Favre, portrayed by Françoise Pascal (Series 1–3), is an amorous French au pair who instantly grabs the attention of all the men, including Mr Brown. Her good looks often distract Giovanni and Max from their answers, while Mr Brown is often found in seemingly incriminating positions with her, and she seems to have a crush on him. She is annoyed when Ingrid Svenson joins the class, instigating a rivalry for Mr Brown's attention.
  • Ali Nadim, portrayed by Dino Shafeek (Series 1–3), is an unemployed at the beginning of the first season while later found a job near the middle of the first as a door to door salesaman Pakistani and the first student to make his appearance. He is originally from Lahore, Pakistan, although he once stated he grew up in Delhi (probably making him a Muhajir – the people who migrated from India to Pakistan after the independence of both the countries in 1947). Never seen without his Jinnah cap(lie has taken ot ff once or twice, he is the most vocal, and most honest and hardworking of the students and often misinterprets the English for a comical sense, but has a very fair command of it. As a Pakistani Muslim, he has a vocal and occasionally physical rivalry with Ranjeet, who is an Indian Sikh. B. Ali's typical catchphrases are "yes please" (in situations where he should say "yes, thank you"), "oh blimey!", "scuze me please" (which is how he pronounces "excuse me please") and "jolly good".
  • Jameela Ranjha, portrayed by Jamila Massey (Series 1–3), is an stereotypical Indian housewife from Shimla. When she first joins the class she can barely speak English, and needs Ali to translate her Hindi, but by series 3 she has become one of the better English speakers. She often calls Mr Brown "Masterjee", and her catchphrase early in the series is "gud havening" (which is how she pronounces "good evening"). During class, she is often found knitting. She is shown to be a Christian in the episode "Guilty or not Guilty?", when she swears on the Bible to tell the truth. Moreover, she wears a cross around her neck from the 11th episode of the first season. But in an episode called "A Point Of Honour", she says the true religion is "Buddhism".
  • Ingrid Svenson, portrayed by Anna Bergman (Series 2 and 4), is a Swedish au pair who joins the class at the beginning of series 2. She is attractive and straightforward about her attraction to Mr Brown, sparking a rivalry between her and Danielle. Her main problem with English is word order, often getting words mixed up, such as "you for I question answer". She transfers schools at the end of Series 2, but returns in the independently-produced Series 4.
  • Zoltán Szabó, portrayed by Gabor Vernon (Series 2), is a Hungarian student who only appears during series 2. He has a very basic level of English and requires a phrasebook for everything. He picks up slang quickly, most of which comes from Giovanni and Juan. At the end of series 2, he goes back to Hungary. His typical catchphrase is to say "Bocsánat?" (pronounced "bochanot", the Hungarian word for "sorry" or "excuse me") to everything said to him in English.

In the fourth series, Mr Brown and Miss Courtney are still at the school, as are Giovanni, Anna, Juan, Ranjeet and Ingrid. New students in series 4 include:

  • Maria Papandrious, portrayed by Jenny Lee-Wright
  • Michelle Dumas portrayed by Marie-Elise Grepne
  • Farrukh Azzam portrayed by Raj Patel
  • Fu Wong Chang portrayed by Vincent Wong
  • Rita portrayed by Sue Bond
  • Henshawe portrayed by Harry Littlewood

Remakes[edit]

The Series was remade in America under the name What a Country!

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rowena Mason "Michael Grade at ITV: it seemed like a good idea at the time", Daily Telegraph, 23 April 2009.
  2. ^ "Vince Powell". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-12-21. 

External links[edit]