Hari's Reviews

Hari's reviews on books, movies, television and more

Mind your Language (1977-1986)

Created: Sat Mar 20 21:41:28 2010 | Last modified: Sat Mar 20 21:41:28 2010

Rating: **********

Year: 1977-1986
Language: English
Starring: Barry Evans, Zara Nutley
Created by: Vince Powell
External Link: IMDb

Mind Your Language

Mind Your Language is a classic sitcom from a bygone era of British comedy. Sadly they don't make shows like this any more. There is limitless scope for humour when a number of foriegn students come together to learn English at an evening school. Every available opportunity to exploit national stereotypes is used in Mind and Language and the best part of it is that show manages to avoid ugly racism in almost every episode considering the underlying theme and the politics of the time. Most of the humour is gentle and in good taste and revolves around the typical mistakes made by foriegners in understanding and using idiomatic English.

Barry Evans as Jeremy Brown is the teacher and the action mostly revolves around him. Zara Nutley as Miss Courtney (not Mrs. as she reminds everybody frequently!) is the stereotypical aristocratic British headmistress who always finds fault with the students and their teacher (mainly the teacher!). Her exaggerated accent and her love for Sherry (only for visitors, as she often claims!) really make this show worth watching. We tend to laugh at everybody equally in this show as nobody is spared from ridicule - even the British. Barry Evans does a great job as the sympathetic English teacher and the antics of the foriegn students really keep this show eminently viewable. The Indian Sikh and the Pakistani Muslim are particularly funny as they trade juvenile insults with each other almost every episode. Here I must add something which always puzzled me: what is the Frenchwoman, Danielle, doing in this class? Her English is quite adequate and she obviously knows how to string sentences together without too many problems. The same goes for Giovanni and Max (the Italian and the Greek respectively although they do struggle with some aspects of the language - particularly idiomatic), while some of the other students can hardly speak a word of the language. And it is precisely this variety which keeps this show from becoming boring as there are several kinds of jokes encountered - from the plain slapstick (Ranjeet Singh and Ali Nadeem going at each other's throats) to the more subtle (the double entendres of Danielle and Giovanni).

The action is almost always centered around the classroom and Miss Courtney's office room. Some scenes are set in the coffee room of the school and occasionally in the bar. While there is not a great deal of variety in the episodes as far as scenery goes (there are some notable exceptions), this goes only to highlight the creativity of the writers and the consistent, high quality of humour.

Not always subtle, sometimes plain naive, Mind Your Language nevertheless remains one of those classic television shows of the kind that won't be made again. Truly universal and truly ageless.