Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005 film)

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Tom Brown's Schooldays
Tom Browns Schooldays 2005.jpg
Written by Thomas Hughes
Ashley Pharoah
Directed by Dave Moore
Starring Alex Pettyfer
Stephen Fry
Theme music composer John E. Keane
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Charles Pattinson
Cinematography Ryszard Lenczewski
Editor(s) Beverley Mills
Running time 93 minutes
Distributor ITV
Company Pictures
Budget $10 million
Original release
  • 1 January 2005 (2005-01-01)

Tom Brown's Schooldays is a 2005 television film adaptation of the Thomas Hughes novel of the same name. It was released on 1 January 2005 and released on DVD 9 days later.[1]


Tom Brown (Alex Pettyfer) is energetic, stubborn, kind-hearted, and athletic more than intellectual. He acts according to his feelings and the unwritten rules of the boys around him more than adults' rules.

The film deals with his years at the elite public school for boys Rugby School. His year starts when he goes to Rugby School, where he becomes acquainted with the adults and boys who live at the school and in its environs.

On his arrival, the 13-year-old Tom Brown is looked after by a more experienced classmate, Harry "Scud" East (Harry Michell). Soon after, Tom and East become the targets of a bully named Flashman (Joseph Beattie). The intensity of the bullying increases, and, after refusing to hand over a sweepstake ticket for the favorite in a horse race, Tom is deliberately burned in front of a fire. Tom and Scud stop Flashman's bullying when Flashman is expelled after a fight with Tom in which he used brass knuckles.



For scenes shot on location, all pupil roles that were not leads were played by real Rugby School students. The school all but ground to a halt for a fortnight as a large portion of the school grounds were used for shooting and the majority of male pupils were involved in taking part as extras.

Extensive cosmetic remodelling took place in some parts of the school so as to render the set historically accurate. For example, a convincing artificial well was constructed in the Old Quad where one had previously been but had since been demolished and bricked over. This particular prop remained at the school for nearly a year afterwards, as the film crew did not take it with them when they left.

The Old Gym, one of the longest standing school buildings, was sequestered as a base for costumes for the extras.

Stephen Fry interacted enthusiastically with the school during his time on set. He gave an almost universally attended talk to the entire school one evening, in which he, among other things, told the story of his expulsion from Uppingham School. Approximately ten select extras (pupils) were invited to talk to him at length in the Headmaster's study on another occasion.

Some occasions of tension on set were noted between some of the child stars playing lead roles, and both their director and the students playing as extras. These took the form of conflicts of attitude, as both the pupils and the director found some of the young actors to be aloof and stroppy at times. Although, in one instance the mother of a child actor was cited as more of an impediment to the director than the child himself.

Differences from the novel[edit]

Event Book Film
How Tom starts Sent by his father mid-term because of Tom's anxiety to go up to a public school. At start of term.
Fights An unorganized fight with Tom and East against Flashman. The "two against one" imbalance is compensated for by Flashman's being two years older and bigger. Later, an organized fight between Tom and "Slogger" Williams. An organized fight between Tom and Flashman, not Tom and Williams, one against one. Tom almost wins but Flashman cheats by using brass knuckles.
Why Flashman is expelled He gets very drunk in Brownsover and has to be helped back to school. He gets the school matron's daughter pregnant, as well as the fight.
Result of Arthur's illness Survived. Died.

The start of the film includes real historical events which are not in the book: Dr. Arnold closing down the school hunt; Dr. Arnold complaining that before his time, there were no masters in the school overnight to keep the boys in order.


Tom Brown's Schoolday's was met positively by the critics. It was called "a flash of evil genius" by The Daily Express, "one of the best TV adaptations of an English classic I have seen" by The Daily Mail; The Radio Times said that "viewers of every political colour will find much to delight them in Tom Brown's Schooldays", and The Hollywood Reporter said that "this new Tom Brown turns out to be an outstanding family viewing experience".


It was nominated for Made for TV Movie in 2005 by RITV.


  1. ^ "Tom Brown's Schooldays". Isle of Man Film. Retrieved 2011-06-12.

External links[edit]