Mind Your Language
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|Mind Your Language|
Title screen of the Series
|Created by||Vince Powell|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||29 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Stuart Allen
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||London Weekend Television|
|Original release||30 December 1977– 15 December 1979|
Mind Your Language is a British sitcom that premiered on ITV in 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.
The series was commissioned by Michael Grade, LWT Director of Programmes in 1977. Although the series was attracting some 18 million viewers, the programme was cancelled in 1979 by Grade, who considered the stereotyping offensive.
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 and Pakistan), Second Chance! (Nigeria), Jami'ar Albarkawa (In Hausa language, Nigeria), Raja Kaduwa! (Sri Lanka), Classmates (Kenya) and Kelas Internasional (Indonesia).
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 West London.
Series 1-3 have been released on DVD; however the independently-produced season 4 has not.
London Weekend Television (original run)
- Series 1 (13) 30 December 1977 – 24 March 1978 · Friday 7pm.
- Series 2 (8) 5 October-23 November 1978 · Saturday mostly 6pm.
- Series 3 (8) 25 October-20 December 1979 · Saturday mostly 6.45pm.
Granada Television (1986 revival)
- Series 4 (13) 4 January - 24 April 1986 · Saturday 2:15pm
Granada Television was the first of the ITV regions to show the 1986 series. Other ITV stations which broadcast it were:
- Anglia: 9 January-1 April - All episodes
- Central: Saturdays 1–22 February, then 12 July- 6 September - All episodes.
- HTV West: 1 February- 15 February THEN 15 November - 6 December Then 16 January - 6 March 1987 - All episodes.
- Tyne Tees: 1 February- 29 March (9 episodes) - Certain episodes.
- Border: Saturdays 1–22 February ( 4 episodes) - Certain episodes.
- TSW: 22 December.
The series was released as a "Best of" 4-disc box set on Region 2 DVD in 2003 (Cinema Club), and on Region 1 DVD in 2004 (Granada). However, these sets exclude 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.
Another 4-disc box set, The Complete LWT Series, released by Network DVD in November 2007 contains all episodes of Series 1–3. Series 4 has yet to be released on DVD.
Cast and characters
- Barry Evans as Mr Jeremy Brown - 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.
- Zara Nutley as Miss Dolores Courtney - the Headmistress of the school. Ms. Courtney holds a very eminent dislike for the male sex and thinks of women as being superior to 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. Her first name was mentioned only in the episode "Brief Re-encounter"
- Iris Sadler - Gladys - the tea lady in the school cafeteria, mostly referred to as "Gladys the Tea Lady". She is also old but has a different personality than Miss Courtney, being lively and friendly. Her husband has died as she tells in the third season, and she has a friendly relation with Sidney and Mr Brown. She often persuades Mr Brown and tells him about Miss Courtney.
- Tommy Godfrey - Sidney - the cockney caretaker of the school, who speaks in rhyming slang. He is referred to as Sid, and only Miss Courtney calls him by his full name. He is married, and is not fond of his wife, saying " she is pain in the neck", and also wears a black tie on his anniversary showing it as a tragedy. He is unable to hear properly and often creates misunderstandings. He is very fond of alcohol, and tricks the students into buying alcohol drinks for him and often remains drunk. He also tricks students to give him money. He is on friendly terms with both Mr Brown and Gladys.
- George Camiller as Giovanni Capello - 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 and he says the catchphrases like "Santa Maria", "Okey Cokey", "Buona Sera" 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.
- Jacki Harding as Anna Schmidt - a stereotypical 1970s German who 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.
- Ricardo Montez as Juan Cervantes - 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 as part of his family.
- Albert Moses as Ranjeet Singh - a London Underground employee 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 on being corrected he always puts his hands together and says "a thousand apologies". When angered by people, he usually threatens them with his kirpan. He and Ali later become friends at the later parts of the series.
- Pik-Sen Lim as Chung Su-Lee (series 1-3) - a stereotypical Chinese woman who works as a 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".
- Robert Lee as Tarō Nagazumi (Series 1–3) - a Japanese electronics executive who works as a representative for the London branch of the fictional Japan-based electronic company, Bushedo electronics. He speaks English fluently, 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 most of the time seen with his camera.
- Kevork Malikyan as Maximillian Andrea Archimedes Papandrious (Series 1–3) - a stereotypial Greek shipping agency 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.
- Françoise Pascal as Danielle Favre (Series 1–3) - 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 the Swedish Ingrid Svenson joins the class, instigating a rivalry for Mr Brown's attention.
- Dino Shafeek as Ali Nadim (Series 1–3) - he is unemployed at the beginning of the first season while later found a job near the middle of the first as a door to door salesman. He is Pakistani and the first student to make an 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). Practically, never seen without his Jinnah cap, 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!", "Squeeze me please" (which is how he pronounces "Excuse me please") and "jolly good".
- Jamila Massey as Jameela Ranjha (Series 1–3) - a stereotypical Indian housewife from Shimla. When she first joins the class she barely speaks any English - she rants in Punjabi when Mr Brown asks her her name, and when she finally does understand she decides to write her name on the blackboard in Urdu because she can't write it in English. Although she needs Ali to translate for her in the first series, by series 3 she shows a marked improvement and is now able to communicate in English without needing any help. She often calls Mr Brown "Masterji" (Hindi roughly meaning Honored Master), and her catchphrase early in the series is "gud hefening" (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". Also, in the episode "I Belong to Glasgow", she is among the students who crossed themselves with Juan (The others are Danielle, Max and Giovanni)
- Anna Bergman as Ingrid Svenson (Series 2 and 4) - 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.
- Gabor Vernon as Zoltán Szabó (Series 2) - 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:
- Tim Williams, portrayed by Richard Steven Horvitz
- 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
International Reception and Remakes
Although the series was cancelled in the UK on the grounds of racial stereotyping, it was (and continues to be) hugely popular overseas, often in the countries represented onscreen. Additionally the series was remade in various countries, following the basic premise but adapted to local ethnic groups:
- India: Zabaan Sambhalke (in Hindi)
- Pakistan: Hay se Yay (in Urdu)
- Kenya: Classmates
- Malaysia: Cakap Melayu Lah (In Malaysian) and Oh My English! (in English)
- Nigeria: Second Chance! (in English), and Jami'ar Albarkawa (in Hausa) 
- Sri Lanka: Raja Kaduwa! (in Sinhala) 
- the United States: What a Country!
- Indonesia: Kelas Internasional (in Indonesian),
- Rowena Mason "Michael Grade at ITV: it seemed like a good idea at the time", Daily Telegraph, 23 April 2009.
- "Vince Powell". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
- Jonathan Rigby, DVD commentary on Die Screaming Marianne starring Barry Evans, 2005.
- "Nollywood kills Nigeria's Television Drama - Vanguard News". 11 June 2011.
- lankacool (8 January 2008). "Raja Kaduwa 2008-01-06 (Part 01)" – via YouTube.
- Kelas Internasional (20 June 2015). "Kelas Internasional - Episode Perdana - Perkenalan - Part 1/3" – via YouTube.
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