There’s a hint of a nip in the air, supermarket shelves are heaving beneath the weight of logoed pencil cases, and there’s a collective sigh of relief from frazzled parents who’ve spent the last few weeks attempting to keep the kids entertained.
It can only mean one thing: the beginning of the new school year - and with it, the return of David Walliams’ aptly-timed comedy, Big School.
“It’s great to be doing the series again, particularly getting everyone back together, as it is such a brilliant cast,” says Walliams, the show’s creator and co-writer, who also stars in the series as the conscientious Mr Church, a man who takes his responsibility as deputy head of science at Greybridge School very seriously.
“Yes, Mr Church is very uptight!” says the 42-year-old star of Little Britain and Britain’s Got Talent. “I think that’s why he’s probably never had any success with the opposite sex. He’s very set in his ways and he’s someone who’s never had a partner before.
“If you’ve never shared a house with anybody, and if you’ve never been married, I think there’s a danger you’ll get set in your ways,” continues the comedian, who has a 15-month-old son Alfred, with his model wife of four years, Lara Stone.
Things were looking up for Mr Church by the end of the last series, as he and French teacher Miss Postern, played by fellow comic Catherine Tate, acknowledged some form of dormant feelings for one another. However, it soon transpires that things have become a little sour between them during the summer break.
“They’ve had a disastrous date,” reveals Walliams. “They’d made an arrangement to go for a meal, but turned up in two different branches of Bella Italia, so they get off to a frosty start! Therefore, at the beginning of the series, Mr Church has a lot of ground to make up to try to get back into Miss Postern’s good books.”
Although Walliams enjoys writing for the school’s headmistress Ms Baron, played by Frances de la Tour (“There’s such a brilliant music to her voice. I can’t believe I have even met her, let alone being able to work with her,” he says), his favourite character is Miss Postern.
“Catherine’s performance is so perfect and so funny that I have to stop myself from laughing when she’s doing it. The joy of writing for someone like that is knowing she’s going to do something amazing.
Tate, couldn’t wait to reprise the role. “Miss Postern is a lot of fun to play,” she says. “I love playing such a delusional character. She thinks she’s a better catch than she is, and she certainly thinks she’s a better teacher than she actually is.”
Despite Miss Postern’s delusional feelings of superiority, there’s underlying self-doubt, and Tate wouldn’t consider her alter ego much of a flirt. In fact, the 46-year-old, believes Miss Postern is simply frustrated with Mr Church and therefore wants to keep her feelings hidden.
Former Holby City actor Jimmy Akingbola pops up as the dashing new geography teacher Dr Dalton, and Jack Carroll, the young comic who came second on Britain’s Got Talent last year, appears as new pupil Dean.
“Jack Carroll was perfect to play a kid in this series and he was really funny.
“I’ve stayed in touch with Jack and his mum ever since Britain’s Got Talent and I am delighted he wanted to be part of the series. He’ll appear a little later on, but I don’t want to give too much away, as he plays quite a surprising part!”
Michele Dotrice, who played Betty in Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em, also makes an appearance. “She was absolutely brilliant. Everyone on set was so excited we had someone so legendary with us,” Walliams says.
Dotrice stars as the mother of the underqualified gym teacher Mr Gunn, played once again by Philip Glenister, who’s now teaching geography following Mr Barber’s (Steve Speirs) move to school caretaker.
“Over the summer holidays, Mr Barber has had something of a nervous episode and has been demoted to caretaker. But he wants to get back to being a geography teacher, so we follow the story of his struggle to get his life back on track over the series,” divulges Walliams.