It is London in the year 1960 and John Saunders enthusiastically begins his new teaching career at a tough slum-area school. His class are bored pupils in their last term before leaving. Will he handle the grave problems that lie ahead?
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John Saunders is a teacher, just out of training college, who takes over a class of badly behaved children in an inner city school. The general rule amongst the other teachers is to enforce discipline with the cane, but Saunders has other ideas, but he has to fight against another teacher, who has a vicious streak. Written by
Max Bygraves was hugely popular in the UK as a singer and comedian - and subsequently as a game show host - but, it has to be said, his greatest attribute was his affability.
A number of his singles made the UK charts and his "singalong" albums appealed (particularly) to older listeners not, I think, simply because he was a passably good vocalist, but because his persona was so likable and non-threatening.
In Spare the Rod, he is cast as a supply teacher working in a tough secondary modern school in the East End of London, hoping to succeed by winning over the pupils rather than punishing them. Along the way, he shows the bad boys that he can mix it with the best whilst refusing to be seduced by the bad girls.
Donald Pleasance is excellent as the headmaster who has no illusions whatsoever about the youngsters in his charge or the system that he is required to follow and Geoffrey Keen, as the sadistic woodwork teacher, reminds us all of some of the bad, bad times in what used to be described as the best years of our lives! Amongst the kids, look out, especially, for Richard O'Sullivan and Jeremy Bulloch, both of whom excel.
As for Max, well, sadly he wasn't really much of an actor but, surrounded by professionals as he is, he doesn't do too badly.
And it is kind of hard to dislike or say bad things about someone who is just so affable.
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