First series 1985; tenth and final series 1998
Most of the episodes to date were repeated on Radio 5 in the early nineties
An unassuming Radio 4 institution, this character sitcom-cum-light drama serial followed the working lives of a group of teachers at a small junior school in a multiracial area, and came from the pen of Jim Eldridge, himself a former teacher. James Grout played Mr Beeston, the permanently harrassed headmaster (who seemed to be in the habit of saying “I’ll get on the blower to County Hall, see if they can’t sort something out” at every possible opportunity), but the main character in plot terms was, initially, the slightly ingenuous Eric Brown (Peter Davison), a newcomer to the teaching profession. When Davison left after Series One, his place was taken by Karl Howman in the role of Philip Sims, a similar bushy-tailed newcomer who inevitably developed into a seasoned old lag as the programme proceeded down its surprisingly long run. Other members of staff who appeared regularly were Mr Holliday (Tom Watson), Beeston’s deputy (who took early retirement in one of the later series, but was written back in — on a supply basis, of course — for many subsequent episodes); Mrs Stone (Margaret John), the school secretary and resident oasis of calm; Miss Patterson (Deirdre Costello), Miss Lewis (Marlene Sidaway), plain-speaking Mr Long (Paul Copley) and the utterly terrifying Mrs Rudd (Vivienne Martin).