Thursday, 7 August 2008

Such great Heights

I've been watching a lot of Chris Lilley's satirical Australian high school mockumentary series Summer Heights High on BBC Three lately, and have really been enjoying it - if enjoying's the right word! The humour's all just so unremittingly cruel. But then, I suppose the whole secondary school experience can be like that for a lot of people, so it's probably quite an accurate depiction we're getting here.

The main characters, if you've not seen it, are posho Year 11 (I think that's about 5th year comprehensive in old money) exchange student and all-round popular girl Ja'mie King, drama teacher Greg "Mr G" Gregson and disruptive Year 8 breakdance fanatic Jonah Takalua. All three characters are played by the brilliant Lilley.

(Jonah and his crew)

Ja'mie and Mr G are both really horrible people: rude, bumptious and thoroughly narcissistic. Think of the most obnoxious Big Brother contestants and you'd be in the right sort of area. Meanwhile the troublesome Jonah - who's superficially the "baddest" of the lot - is comfortably the most sympathetic of the three protagonists. OK, so he may swear like a trooper, pick on the younger kids, cover the whole school with his *dick*tation graffiti tag and take the piss out of all his teachers, but somewhere deep down there's a decent human being there, I think. He just has a lot - and I mean a lot! - of growing up to do.

We get glimpses of Jonah's softer side in his classes with remedial English teacher Jan Palmer, who he likes and respects (despite the fact that he's often almost as rude to her as to all the other adults he encounters!) and who clearly has a lot of time for him as well. Theirs is a really sweet relationship, and serves as a much-needed counterpoint to the bitchiness and rancour elsewhere in the programme.

I've probably banged on about this for long enough here, but if you haven't caught Summer Heights High yet and fancy investigating it further, there are loads of clips of the show available to watch on YouTube.

And, what do you know, writing about this programme has provided me with the perfect excuse to feature the following indiepop classic from Swedish maestros Brainpool. (I love it when a plan comes together.)

Brainpool - At School mp3 (for 7 days)

Buy the Summer Heights High DVD


I Am Not The Beatles said...

They had an all episodes in ione evening thing on BBC3 t'other night - and I was transfixed and thought it was utterly utterly brilliant too.

Mr G - what a fantastically well realised character.

Loved it! Glad to find someone else who has actually watched the bloody thing!

Kippers said...

I only saw it from the sixth episode onwards first time round so that BBC3 marathon on Saturday night was really handy for catch-up purposes.

Mr G reminds me so much of camp hairdresser Craig Coates from Big Brother 6 it's uncanny. (Apart from the fact that G is actually funny, natch.)

Oh, and apparently the character of Jonah was modelled on Mike Smith! ;)