Episode 1 – Teaching Practice
An odd episode to start of the new series, focusing on a student teacher played by guest actor Richard Lumsden. Slatt’s homophobic prank backfires on him in a big way, resulting in him arranging a date with the student teacher and “coming out” to the Director of Education. It’s hard to sympathise with Slatt and his attitudes in this episode – at least until the last scene, where his quite tender apology earns him the first bit of respect he’s ever had from Suzy. Suzy’s undergone a big change after a year at Galfast High – as weary and cynical as the rest, shutting the door of the staffroom to keep the kids away, and landing herself with her own awkward situation when her attempt to put off Dan’s infatuation (by offering to have “cold, meaningless sex”) has completely the opposite effect – “Thank you so, so much…” She’s been doing it with a married man from Business Studies, too, the minx! Perhaps the short skirt and black tights are a big draw to the male staff. Also mention must be made of new Headmaster Duncan Preston as the worthy successor to the sadly departed John Wells – and his labored staff speeches on the subject of “Tinkling”.
Episode 2 – Hot Bitch
A nice, slightly more laid back episode all about the private life of Amanda Tripley, and her alternative internet persona. Another recognisable character actor Trevor Cooper appears as her internet beau “Man Helmet”. And after some embarrassing scenes where Slatt is seen crawling to the education officer, all of a sudden, in a glorious twist, he becomes a hero! Thus more respect from Suzy – is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
Episode 3 – A Big Problem Downstairs
Back to complete chaos in a very frantic episode set around the parents’ evening –another misunderstanding on Slatt’s part leaves him desperately attempting to retrieve some sensitive pictures of his wife from the photocopier whilst attached to the end of a bungee rope. Suzy is becoming more and more like Slatt herself – after getting at Dan for saying “Great!” in response to everything she says, she finds herself doing the same thing in front of Jason Cockfoster. This in turn leads to her glorious line “Fantastic! Bollocks!!!” and subsequent efforts to dig herself out – “I don’t mean yours. Though I’m sure they are...” RE teacher Jason Cockfoster is more bewildered than usual following the rumours Dan has spread about him being Satan, and his line to Slatt “You’ve got a big problem downstairs!” leads to him being landed with a knock-out punch. All adding to the fun!
Episode 4 – Just Him in a Dress
The pinnacle of “Chalk” – a hilariously written piece and brilliantly funny performances from both David Bamber and Nicola Walker. For once it is Suzy who precipitates the disaster, her indiscretion about an erotic dream involving Eric Slatt leading both of them to embarrassment after embarrassment, culminating in them inadvertently convincing a schizophrenic prospective pupil that they are one and the same person, and being found by the staff crouching together under a school desk. There is so much to adore about this episode –Slatt’s musing on the secret plans of geography teachers – “Today the classroom; tomorrow the world; next day, colour it in”; Suzy’s scary scream on being confronted by Slatt and the others’ realisation of whom she was dreaming about; Suzy inadvertently blurting out the subject of her dream to the kids in the playground over the tannoy; Slatt’s elaborate diagram created to describe why for once it isn’t his fault; and, best of all, Suzy’s even more elaborate diagram created to describe why she is not like Eric Slatt. Bliss!
Episode 5 – The Spice Girls are Next!
Although there is much hilarity to be had in this episode, its overall theme is, it has to be said, rather dark – seeing the star pupil of Galfast High, on the day of his first A level exam, reduced to a wreck and ultimately a vegetable thanks to the machinations and incompetence of Eric Slatt. Suzy takes more of a back seat in this one sadly, though there’s a strong guest turn from Doreen Mantle (of “One Foot in the Grave”) as Slatt’s nemesis Dr Gillespie, who looks set at one point to destroy Slatt once and for all… until, well… Duncan Preston has his finest moments as Mr Kennedy, in increasing anguish thanks to severe gastric disturbances.
Episode 6 – The Staff Party
A lovely way to end the series, allowing all to have their final moment in the spotlight: Mr Carkdale in his party hat; Mr Kennedy in his Elvis gear; Miss Tripley and her weird dream descriptions; and, of course, the final redemption of Eric Slatt, who is allowed – after more embarrassment and indignity involving a video diary – a happy end with his wife. Suzy is still besotted with Jason Cockfoster – and rather naughtily it is she again who precipitates Slatt’s downfall, by watching the offending tape in his room – not knowing that everyone at the party can see it too. The final scenes give a glimmering of hope for Suzy and Dan. While poor Jason Cockfoster is left to bleat “I am a religious education teacher, NOT a eunuch!” (everyone else remaining unconvinced).