TV shows gains cult status for a number of reasons, Mind Your Language was for the wrong reasons. A product of its time (1977) it now has so many cringe worthy moments that it is almost worth checking out just so you can see what you used to be able to get away with in 1970’s British television!
Mind Your Language is set in an adult education college in London and focuses on the English as a Foreign Language class taught by Mr Jeremy Brown (Barry Evans), who had to deal with a motley crew of foreign students.
The show was commissioned by Michael Grade, LWT Director of Programmes in 1977. Although the series was attracting some 18 million viewers, the programme was cancelled in 1979 by Grade, who considered the stereotyping offensive.
The series was sold to other countries, including Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Singapore.
It was also one of the first British TV programmes shown in South Africa after the end of the boycott by the British Actors’ Equity Association.
It was resurrected briefly for the export market by an independent producer in the mid-1980’s, though most ITV companies did not show any of the episodes made in 1986, only Anglia, Central and Granada transmitted the final 13 episodes, while Border, HTV and Tyne Tees broadcast a handful of episodes.
Various international television shows based on the premise of Mind Your Language have followed the original series. Among them are What a Country! (US), Zabaan Sambhalke (India and Pakistan), Second Chance! (Nigeria), Jami’ar Albarkawa (In Hausa language, Nigeria), Raja Kaduwa! (Sri Lanka), Classmates (Kenya) and Kelas Internasional (Indonesia).