When he’s not swimming for charity, scoping out variety acts on Britain’s Got Talent or writing children’s books, David Walliams is a comedy actor. He makes a welcome return to our screens tonight, without Little Britain sidekick Matt Lucas, in this new, six-part sitcom.
Following the runaway success of The Inbetweeners and Bad Education in recent years, the BBC have commissioned another classroom comedy.
Big School is set in and around a dysfunctional staff room, and like Bad Education, there is a story of unrequited love between two the teachers at the centre.
Walliams explains: “I wanted to do something a bit like Remains Of The Day - the story of these two servants who were in love with each other but they can’t quite express it.
“I was thinking what could be the modern take on that? I thought well a school’s quite a good environment because you don’t get any privacy at school.”
Walliams plays 40-something deputy head of chemistry Mr Church, who is about to resign from Greybridge following a particularly dramatic experiment with liquid nitrogen and 1000 ping pong balls. But the arrival of new French teacher Miss Postern (who has never actually been to France) changes his mind.
“They’re quite suited to each other in some ways that you think, well, who else is going to have you?” says Catherine Tate, who plays Miss Postern.
“The seed is planted at the beginning for Mr Church. He’s quite taken with her and, of course, she’s quite flattered that someone could go to such lengths.”
Lothario PE teacher Mr Gunn (Philip Glenister) makes no secret of wanting to “plough” the new member of staff, prompting Mr Church to take advice from a pupil on how to succeed with women in tonight’s opening episode.