Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RAVES!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 29/11/11

That'll Teach Them

I don't know why this came into my head an hour or so ago, but I'm glad it did.

I remember it the first time around, when it featured in the original Secret Policeman's Ball in 1979 (the same show which contained this legendary Peter Cook turn). It stars Rowan Atkinson, from the point in time just before he made the big time via Not The Nine O'Clock News, which led to Blackadder, Mr Bean and something approaching ubiquity.

This piece showcases two aspects of Atkinson's comedy which have tended to become obscured by his sub-Keaton clowning of recent times: aside from his remarkable physiognomy, making him appear practically alien at points in this appearance, we see the haughty, almost malevolent characterisation which he later brought to bear in the later series of Blackadder; and his ability to - as the cliché goes - "say things funny" rather than just "say funny things". OK, the names on the class register are themselves amusing, but they're given extra spin by Atkinson's enunciation of them.

Much of the laughter from the audience is also that of recognition, in that back in 1979 there were still teachers - not just in the élite establishments, but in the educational workhouses of hoi polloi - who were much like this.

If you don't find this funny boy, I shall have to tweak you.

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