Unlike most films based on TV series, this one is actually better than the small-screen version. Anyone who bought the 4-DVD box set of the TV version will know that the jokes and plot are quite thinly spread across each episode. But for this film, writers Larbey and Esmonde took all the best bits from the TV episodes, and hung them off a plot in which form 5C go for two weeks to the country. In its day, 'Please Sir' was as influential over actual schoolroom behaviour as 'Grange Hill'. 5C were a rowdy and disobedient class, quick to pick a fight with any neighbouring school. Dennis's Dad must have been one of the first parents to assault a teacher on UK TV. The strength of 'Please Sir' came from the characterisation. John Alderton as the shy Hedges was a forerunner of Hugh Grant's part in 'Four Weddings'. Miss Ewell comes across as more likeable than I remember her. But the greatest characters are Frankie Abbott and Dennis Dunstable. The tough-talking but pathetic Abbott is a particularly brilliant creation. This 1971 film is not, by today's standards, politically correct. There are elements of racism and the occasional religious slur. But the film never allows these prejudices to win through. Above all else, this is a gentle, uplifting comedy, with a half-decent theme song sung by Cilla Black. A great memory of the the late 60s to early 70s transition period.
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