Have you ever tried to explain a certain colloquial expression, such as “kick the bucket,” “shoot off his mouth,” or “until the fat lady sings” to someone whose mother tongue is anything but English? You probably have been delighted to find out how meanings of words can yield multifarious feats of creative interpretations, which can also, in turn, be prospective nouveau vocabulary of the most effectively deployed Lingua Franca of our time. After all, that’s what Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare, and George Bernard Shaw did to the English language, which is still kicking and alive in keeping up with the evolution of our own cultural progress. And certainly, the students in the evening English class are a tour de force of such cultural enterprise in this hilarious original British sitcom “Mind Your Language.”
The story of Jeremy Brown, an ingenuous young academic teaching English to his slightly offbeat motley crew of foreign adult students at evening classes in an adult education college in London forms the basis of the show. Mr. Brown has to deal with his students’ creatively wily answers to his questions, while trying to instill in them the elements of the English language with his Oxford-educated academic credentials. In fact, it’s the class that gets the laugh by pushing their naive enthusiastic young teacher into an imbroglio of jocular situations all for the celebration of joviality in their evening English class after hard days of work. In bewilderment of his students’ wily but innocuous chicanery, Mr. Brown’s affection for his class grows bigger and deeper as the show continues; you see him becoming something of Jack of all trades for his students as well as the principal, Ms. Courtney. You will find Mr. Brown at the police station, in court, in hospital, on the dance floor at the school fete, and of course at the pubs with his beloved students or Sidney, the cockney school caretaker.
The delightful peals of hearty laughter, the bounty of warmth, and even remedial lessons of English embroider on these three scintillating series of the show produced by London Week Television between 1977 and 1979 for ITV in England. Each of the episodes was ingeniously written with simply brilliant feats of words and ideas on the grounds of realistic situations relating to anyone who speaks English as a foreign language or anyone who deals with such person in reality. Also, the collective efforts and performance of the cast with each actor and actress harmoniously contributing the best of the self to the respective character is the ipso facto gem of the perennial popularity of the show to this date. All in all, the setting, the topic, the storyline, and the cast of “Mind Your Language” give you the idea that in order to make a good TV comedy show that strikes the chords with a wide range of people regardless of ethnic, racial, and/or social backgrounds, all you have to do is to look into the everyday life around you and see if there is anything that transcends the subjectivity of the aforementioned backgrounds in order to reach the universal code of humor and humanity without pontificating social/political ideology. For these reasons, “Mind Your Language” is an unmissable feast of comedy of intelligence, wit, humor, and a touch of innocence that deserves of its recognition in the canons of British Classic Comedy.