Mind Your Language
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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 LWT between 1977–1979, and the show was briefly revived in 1986 for 13 episodes, with six of the original cast.
|Mind Your Language|
Title screen of the TV Series
|Created by||Vince Powell|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||42 (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
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 is employed to teach a group of foreign students.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Barry Evans (42 episodes) as Jeremy Brown - the English teacher and focal point of most of the series. He is a good-natured and 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 previous teacher was driven insane by the students. Mr Brown is up to the challenge; however, he is 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. Miss Courtney 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 Miss Courtney 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 and 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 caretaker of the school. A rough and roguish Cockney who speaks in rhyming slang. He is aged in his sixties, and referred to as Sid; only Miss Courtney calls him by his full name. 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. He also tricks students into giving him money. He steals supplies from the school and sells them. He is friendly with both Mr Brown and Gladys.
- George Camiller (42 episodes) as Giovanni Cupello - a stereotypical Italian Catholic 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 Professore. When shocked or surprised, he often remarks and he says the 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.
- Jacki Harding (42 episodes) as Anna Schmidt - a stereotypical 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 (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 Ms Courtney as "Plenty awesome, very good!") and answers everything with "por favor" (please), necessitating Giovanni to translate some key terms for him (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 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 frequently 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 in the later parts 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"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 (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 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 friend of hers later on. Most of the time he is seen with his camera.
- Kevork Malikyan (29 episodes) as Maximillian Andrea Archimedes Papandrious (Series 1–3) - a stereotypical 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 (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) - he is unemployed at the beginning of the first season, while later, (near the middle of the first season) finds a job 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 Partition of India in 1947). Practically, never seen without his Jinnah cap, he is the most vocal, and most honest, and hardworking of the students. 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"), "oh blimey!", "Squeeze me please" (which is how he pronounces "Excuse me please"), and "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 Urdu 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 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 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 (21 episodes) 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 (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.
In the fourth series, Mr Brown and Miss Courtney are still at the school, as are Giovanni, Anna, Juan, Ranjeet and Ingrid. New students and staff in series 4 include:
- Michelle Dumas portrayed by Marie-Elise Grepne (13 episodes).
- Farrukh Azzam portrayed by Raj Patel (13 episodes).
- Fu Wong Chang portrayed by Vincent Wong (13 episodes).
- Rita portrayed by Sue Bond - new tea-lady replacing Gladys (13 episodes).
- Henshawe portrayed by Harry Littlewood - new caretaker of the school replacing Sid (13 episodes).
The series was commissioned by Michael Grade, Director of Programmes at London Weekend Television. Using this series as an example, Sarita Malik, in Representing Black Britain (2002) 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."
The series attracted about 18 million viewers. Grade cancelled the programme having considered the stereotyping offensive. "It was really irresponsible of us to put it out", he told Linda Agran at the Edinburgh Television Festival in 1985.
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. It was also broadcast in Canada on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) in syndication from 1978 until 1982. The series made it onto some minor or independent ABC TV stations in the United States of America in the Midwestern States during 1977.
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), 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.
London Weekend Television (original run)Edit
- Series 1 (13) 30 December 1977 – 24 March 1978 · Fridays, 7pm.
- Series 2 (8) 5 October-23 November 1978 · Saturdays, mostly 6pm.
- Series 3 (8) 25 October-20 December 1979 · Saturdays, mostly 6.45pm.
TRI Films LTD (1985 revival)Edit
TSW were the first of the ITV regions to series 30 September - 31 December 1985 · Mondays 6:30pm
- Granada Television all episodes from; 4 January-24 April 1986 · Saturday 2:15pm
- Anglia: all episodes, from; 9 January-1 April 1986.
- Central: all episodes, shown as one block of four (1–22 February 1986) and one block of nine (12 July-6 September 1986).
- HTV West: all episodes over a period from 1 February 1986 to 6 March 1987.
- Tyne Tees: nine episodes from 1 February-29 March 1986.
- Border: four episodes, from 1–22 February 1986.
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.
International reception and remakesEdit
Even though the series was cancelled in 1979, it continues to be popular overseas, particularly in the countries represented in the series 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) 
- United States: What a Country!
- Indonesia: Kelas Internasional (in Indonesian),
- Japan: Nihonjin no shiranai nihongo
- 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.
- Malik, Sarita (2002). Representing Black Britain: Black and Asian Images on Television. London: Sage. p. 96–97.
- "Vince Powell". The Daily Telegraph. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- Jonathan Rigby, DVD commentary on Die Screaming Marianne starring Barry Evans, 2005.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "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.