Mind Your Language

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Mind Your Language
Title screen of the series
Created byVince Powell
Written byVince Powell
Presented bySharad Patel (series 4)
StarringBarry Evans
Dino Shafeek
Zara Nutley
Albert Moses
George Camiller
Jacki Harding
Ricardo Montez
Robert Lee
Pik-Sen Lim
Kevork Malikyan
Jamila Massey
Françoise Pascal
Anna Bergman
Tommy Godfrey
Iris Sadler
ComposersMax Harris (series 1–3)
Kin Kelly (series 4)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes42 (list of episodes)
Executive producerBachu Patel (series 4)
ProducersStuart Allen (series 1–3)
Albert Moses (series 4)
Camera setupMultiple-camera
Running time25 minutes
Production companiesLondon Weekend Television (series 1–3)
TRI Films (series 4)
Original networkITV
Original release30 December 1977 (1977-12-30) –
6 March 1987 (1987-03-06)

Mind Your Language is a British sitcom that premiered on ITV in 1977. It was produced by London Weekend Television and directed by Stuart Allen. Three series were made by the London Weekend Television between 1977 and 1979 and briefly revived in 1985 (or 1986 in most ITV regions) with six of the original cast. The series shows people of different countries with different social background, religions, and languages existing in the same classroom, learning English as a foreign language.


The show is set in an adult education college in London and focuses on the class in English as a Foreign Language directed by Mr Jeremy Brown (Barry Evans), who teaches a group of enrolled foreigners.

Cast and characters[edit]

Countries represented in Mind Your Language (series 1–3)
  • Barry Evans (42 episodes) as Jeremy Brown, the English teacher and focal point of most of the series. He is a good-natured, earnest single man in his thirties who lives alone. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Oxford University. He was hired in the series pilot, in which he was warned that the students drove the previous teacher insane. Mr Brown is up to the challenge but often exasperated by the students' creative interpretations of the English language.
  • Zara Nutley (42 episodes) as Dolores Courtney, the stuffy, imperious principal of the school. Miss Courtney has a great dislike of the male gender, thinks women are superior to men, and prefers female teachers. She hesitates to hire Mr Brown, but reluctantly puts him on a month's trial. She likes to drop by the English classroom unannounced to check up on the progress of Mr Brown's students, and often leaves 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. Her first name was mentioned only in the episode "Brief Re-encounter". She has a Master of Arts from Oxford.
  • Iris Sadler (20 episodes) as Gladys (series 1–3), the tea lady in the school cafeteria, most often referred to as "Gladys the tea lady". She is a vivacious, friendly woman in her seventies. In the third season, it is revealed that she is a widow. She has a friendly relationship with both Sidney and Mr Brown. She often cajoles Mr Brown and tattles on Miss Courtney.
  • Tommy Godfrey (20 episodes) as Sidney (series 1–3), the school caretaker, a rough, roguish Cockney in his sixties who speaks in rhyming slang. Only Miss Courtney calls him by his full name; everyone else calls him Sid. He dislikes his long-term partner and wears a black tie on their anniversary. Despite not being married, he routinely refers to her as his wife. He is hard of hearing, which often creates misunderstandings. He is very fond of alcohol and tricks the students into buying drinks for him and giving him money. He also steals supplies from the school and sells them. He is friendly with both Mr Brown and Gladys.
  • Sue Bond (13 episodes) as Rita (series 4), the new tea lady replacing Gladys.
  • Harry Littlewood (13 episodes) as Henshawe (series 4), the new caretaker of the school replacing Sid.
  • George Camiller (42 episodes) as Giovanni Capello, a stereotypical Italian British Catholic chef, the class's loudspeaker 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 catchphrases like "Santa Maria", "Santa Daisy", "Okey Cokey", "Buona Sera" or "Holy Ravioli". When he doesn't understand something he says scusi. He has an elaborate set of first names: Giovanni Vincenzo Marco Dino Alberto Leonardo etc. His last name is sometimes spelled "Cupello" in the closing credits.
  • Jacki Harding (42 episodes) as Anna Schmidt, a stereotypical West German who works as an au pair. In her introduction, she refers to "German efficiency"; accordingly, she's a hardworking student, occasionally asking legitimate questions, and as the series progresses, answering Mr Brown's questions correctly. Her main problem is mixing v and w sounds. She also punctuates her sentences with German words. She is shown to have the 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 the denomination was being argued over, she said that Lutheranism was the true religion, but in the episode "How's Your Father", she said that there's no life after death.
  • Ricardo Montez (42 episodes) as Juan Cervantes, a Spanish Catholic bartender with an optimistic outlook. 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 Miss Courtney as "Plenty awesome, very good!") and answers everything with "por favor" (please), necessitating Giovanni to translate some key terms for him (as Spanish and Italian have many mutually intelligible words). His typical catchphrase is "s'alright!" and sometimes when he is corrected he says "Sorry, wrong number". Juan's English improves as the series goes on, but he remains 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 (42 episodes) as Ranjeet Singh, a London Underground employee from Punjab in India and a religious Sikh. In the first episode, Mr Brown mistook him for a Pakistani when he asked him to sit next to his "fellow countryman", Ali Nadim, a Pakistani Muslim; they often clash. 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, he threatens his tormenters with his kirpan. He usually comes late to class. In Season 1 Episode 3, a woman named Surinder appeared at the school and he told everyone that they had been betrothed to each other as children, but he no longer wishes to marry her. He and Ali become friends in the later episodes of the series.
  • Pik-Sen Lim (27 episodes) as Chung Su-Lee (series 1–3), a stereotypical Chinese communist 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 and l sounds. 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 (29 episodes) 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, Bushido Electronics. He speaks English quite fluently, but has a habit of adding -o to almost every word he says (as in "thank-o," "England-o," and so on) and always replies "Ah-So!" and bows whenever he is called on. Early in the series he is at odds with Su-Lee due to Japan and China's own political differences in the 1970s but they become friends later on. Most of the time he is seen with his camera.
  • Kevork Malikyan (29 episodes) as Maximillian Andrea Archimedes Papandrious (series 1–3), stereotypical Greek Orthodox shipping-agency worker from Athens who 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 close friends; these two characters have the best command of the English language of all the students in the series.
  • Françoise Pascal (29 episodes) as Danielle Favre (series 1–3), an amorous young French Catholic 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 is strongly attracted to him. She is annoyed when an attractive young Swedish blonde, Ingrid Svenson, joins the class, instigating a rivalry for Mr. Brown's attention.
  • Dino Shafeek (29 episodes) as Ali Nadim (series 1–3), a Pakistani initially unemployed at the beginning of the first season, who later gets a job as a door to door salesman, 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 Partition of India in 1947). Practically never seen without his Jinnah cap, he is the most vocal, honest, and hardworking of the students, with Anna being the second. He 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. Ali's typical catchphrases are "yes please" (in situations where he should say "yes, thank you" or "yes indeed"), "oh blimey!", "Squeeze me please" (which is how he pronounces "Excuse me please"), and "jelly good" (for Jolly Good).
  • Jamila Massey (29 episodes) as Jamila Ranjha (series 1–3), a stereotypical Indian housewife from Shimla. When she first joins the class she barely speaks any English - she rants in Hindi when Mr. Brown asks her name, and when she finally does understand, she writes her name on the blackboard in Urdu because she cannot 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 able to communicate in English without needing any help. She often calls Mr. Brown "Masterji" (Hindi roughly meaning "teacher" or "professor"), and her catchphrase early in the series is "gud hefening" (which is how she pronounces "good evening"). She often brings her knitting to class. She is shown to be a Christian in the episode "Guilty or not Guilty?", when she swears on the Bible to tell the truth, from the first season's 11th episode, she wears a cross necklace. 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 crosses herself along with Jock, Danielle, Max, and Giovanni.
  • Anna Bergman (21 episodes) as Ingrid Svenson (series 2, 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 (8 episodes) as Zoltán Szabó (series 2), a Hungarian student who only appears during series 2. He knows very little 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 returns 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.
  • Marie-Elise Grepne as Michelle Dumas (13 episodes)
  • Jenny Lee-Wright as Maria Papandrious, the sister of Maximillian Papandrious (13 episodes)
  • Raj Patel as Farrukh Azzam (13 episodes)
  • Vincent Wong as Fu Wong Chang (13 episodes)



The series was commissioned by Michael Grade, Director of Programmes at London Weekend Television.[1] The majority of recordings for the first three series took place on Tuesday evenings in Studio Two at the South Bank Television Centre.

Using this series as an example, Sarita Malik, in Representing Black Britain (2002) wrote that "Blacks, Asians or 'race' were usually the butt of the joke", which "tended to hit a racist note, but always in a well-meaning, benevolent tone". She continued that "never before had so many diverse races... been seen in the same television frame, but they had never clung so tightly to their popular crude national stereotypes."[2]

The series attracted about 18 million viewers. Grade cancelled the programme having considered the stereotyping offensive.[3] "It was really irresponsible of us to put it out", he told Linda Agran at the Edinburgh Television Festival in 1985.[2]

International screenings[edit]

The series continues to be screened internationally, particularly in the countries represented in the series onscreen.[4] The series was sold to Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Kenya, Nigeria,[5] Ghana, Singapore and Hong Kong. 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.[6] It was also broadcast in Canada on CBC Television from 1978 until 1982. The series was screened by some minor or independent ABC TV stations in the United States during 1985.[7]


DVD releases[edit]

The series was released as a "Best of" four-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 four-DVD box set, The Complete LWT Series, released by Network in November 2007 contains all episodes of Series 1–3.

International remakes[edit]

International television shows based on the premise of Mind Your Language include:


  1. ^ Mason, Rowena (23 April 2009). "Michael Grade at ITV: it seemed like a good idea at the time". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b Malik, Sarita (2002). Representing Black Britain: Black and Asian Images on Television. London: Sage. pp. 96–97. ISBN 9780761970279.
  3. ^ "Vince Powell". The Daily Telegraph. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  4. ^ Jonathan Rigby, DVD commentary on Die Screaming Marianne starring Barry Evans, 2005.
  5. ^ The International World of Electronic Media, Lynne S. Gross, McGraw-Hill, 1995, page 243
  6. ^ New Statesman and Society, 30 September 1994, page 31
  7. ^ TV Guide, Volume 33, Triangle Publications, 1985, page A-36
  8. ^ "Shemaroo releases home video of TV show Zabaan Sambhal Ke". Indian Television Dot Com. 8 December 2009.
  9. ^ Kelas Internasional (20 June 2015). "Kelas Internasional - Episode Perdana - Perkenalan - Part 1/3". Archived from the original on 21 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "(HIBURAN) Astro Warna Lancar Sitkom Terbaru, Cakap Melayulah! | Galaksi Media".
  12. ^ "Nollywood kills Nigeria's Television Drama - Vanguard News". 11 June 2011.
  13. ^ "Raja Kaduwa 2008-01-06 (Part 01)". 8 January 2008. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021 – via YouTube.

External links[edit]