Family-based sitcom. The Brockmans face fresh challenges as Karen has trouble adapting to big school, Ben auditions for the school musical and Jake makes a foolish fashion choice.
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No, no, I pressed seven, but the man on seven
said I had to press three, and you're three.
No. No. Well, the point is you have sent me a bill I can't possibly pay.
I can't pay it because it is for the sum of
zero pounds, zero, zero pence.
So, eh, I am just notifying you that...
What do you mean, I've got to pay it?
I've got to pay you the sum of zero pounds
or else the computer won't understand?
So, how are we doing, team? HE SIGHS
Ow! Ow, God. It's static! It's this cardigan.
I feel like a ball of electricity. It's like being one of the X-Men.
-So how was school?
Cheerier than yesterday.
Yeah, she should have settled in by now.
I thought once the first term was over she'd be OK, but...
Well, you know, big school, takes a lot of getting used to.
Took me months to start making friends.
I remember one day the other kids grabbed my scarf
and threw it on the railway line...
..And then my shoes...
And my trousers...
And my underpants.
And there was another time, at the sports ground...
Is this going to be the anecdote about the time you got
-lashed to the roof of the minibus?
I think the big thing she's struggling with is not being the star turn.
I mean, academically, these kids are much stronger.
I don't know, maybe we've got the wrong school.
Maybe we should have sent her to St Mungo's.
-Maybe. I've heard horror stories.
-About St Mungo's?
Well, Frank Pringle says that his son has already been offered drugs twice.
-Once by an RE teacher.
-Do you think we've made the right choice?
Well, we'll never know for certain.
Besides, is it the school that's the problem or is it her? She's not exactly...
-FRONT DOOR SLAMS
Why does he always slam the door like that? Every time.
Can you not slam the door?
-Did I slam it?
-Yes. The windows are still rattling.
You're a bit late.
-Had an audition.
For the lower school show. It's a musical.
I bet it's Oliver! Yeah, it'll be Oliver! Schools always do Oliver!
-No, it's Spartacus.
-A musical about Spartacus?
-I didn't know there was a musical about Spartacus.
There isn't yet. Mr Farthingwell is writing it.
The new music teacher.
The one that let Ben borrow the school drum kit over Christmas.
Oh, yes... I remember.
Anyway, it's going to be awesome.
There's songs, gladiator fights and we have a sea-battle.
And you're auditioning for a singing part...?
-..that involves singing?
Well, good for you! That's really great that you're having
a crack at something outside your comfort zone.
But just... You know, just remember that an audition can be...
You know, there's always a chance that you might be disappointed.
It won't bother me if I don't get a part.
Mr Farthingwell says if I don't get a part, I can do the lights.
-The lights? With electricity?
I really like Mr Farthingwell. He has some really big ideas.
At his last school, he put on a musical about Salman Rushdie.
-And how did that go?
He had to have a policeman outside his house for a few months... Listen to this.
"The Romans were so frightened of Spartacus and his rebels
"that they decided to evacuate Rome."
Well, that's the Italian army for you.
How is that a racist joke?
Hmm, no. Maybe you're right. Maybe it's just racist.
Oh, not this again.
I'm just saying you purely assuming that all Italians are cowards is racist.
I'm not saying all Italians are cowards. I'm going on...
Oh, so if you were going to
pick a fight with Paolo Di Canio, do you think he...
You wouldn't have to pick a fight with Paolo Di Canio.
-He would pick a fight with you.
I'm not a racist.
I'm not criticising you. I'm just saying,
it's unfortunate that you have to be burdened with that mindset.
He's got a point, Dad.
You can't help it.
You know that story you tell about Mr Patel at the newsagents?
You can't tell that story without doing this weird wobbling with your head.
He wobbles his head.
So why is that funny? Why do you laugh at it? Why do you impersonate him?
I don't know why it's funny. It just is funny.
OK. Fine, well, why didn't you...
You do what I would consider racist things.
-What about video games? They're racist.
-Well, how are they racist?
You have a towel head count.
All right, boys. Let... Ow!
-Why is it...
-Maybe it's you.
-Maybe it's not the cardigan.
Maybe it's you. Maybe your body is, you know, especially static-y.
Pete Brockman - man of science.
Hey, Dad. Look at Beckham's latest tattoo.
God, what does he look like?
He looks good.
Used to be only sailors got tattooed.
And now, every morning on the Tube, I'm surrounded by human billboards
with snakes peeping out of their sleeves.
In 40 years' time, we will be the most unattractive nation on the planet.
Everyone will be covered in very wrinkly, saggy reptiles.
I reckon, anyone who gets a tattoo needs a brain transplan...
You've got a tattoo, haven't you?
What?! You got a tattoo!?
In Camden Town.
On your body!
Oh, right. Em, it's just behind my right shoulder.
For God's sake!
Come on, then. Show us the damage.
What were you thinking of? Honestly!
OK, first question, what the hell is it?
Looks like a spider.
It's the Ancient Persian word for "peace".
What possessed you?
It was an impulse. we were in Camden Market and...
You were in Camden Market and you suddenly decided to get a tattoo?
What are you, a German tourist?
-How much did it cost?
-Actually, it was really cheap.
-That explains the green edges.
-The edges are green.
Oh, right. Yeah, he said, to start with, there might be some discolouration.
Right, a cheap tattoo parlour. Smart move, Jake.
Oh, I'm sorry, but all the Harley Street tattooists were booked up!
Hey, neat spider.
It's not a spider!
It's Ancient Persian...for "sucker".
I made a fashion choice, OK?
A hat is a fashion choice. Carving into your body is...
Mum, I'm 17.
I'm old enough to decide to die for my country, I can choose to get a tattoo.
Well, you're not very likely to die for your country,
although you are quite likely to die from septicaemia.
It's just a tattoo, it's not genocide.
HE BANGS CHAIR
You concentrate on the littlest one
because you think she's the one with the problems,
and then the one that's virtually an adult goes and does something stupid. Oh...
Do you think Ben'll be all right if he doesn't get a part in that show?
He's more sensitive than he lets on and everybody forgets he's only 13,
-because he's so...
-Bloody huge. Oh, he'll be fine.
Well, if it involves singing...
You don't have to be able to sing to be in a musical.
Russell Crowe proved that.
But Ben's got a voice like a walrus.
Again - Russell Crowe for Les Miserables.
You've got to stop worrying about everyone, OK?
Yeah, she's OK. You OK?
Er, I'm a bit worried about something.
Oh, right. OK.
Well, come on. Let's, um... Let's chat about it, sweetheart.
It's been worrying me for weeks.
Whatever the problem is, I'm certain we can sort it out.
It's about Tommy.
Tommy the hamster?
Yeah. I'm worried that he's stuck under the floorboards.
Look, I think we're going to have to be realistic about this, darling.
He disappeared down that hole two months ago,
and, even if he is trapped, by now he...
There's that factory that collapsed in Bangladesh
and they found that woman weeks after it had collapsed on her, still alive.
So we can't give up on Tommy.
I don't really think there's anything we can do.
You said, whatever the problem was, you were certain
-that you could sort it out.
-Yeah, but that was...
What I meant was any problem of a non-hamster-related nature.
Look, we did everything we could possibly do at the time, didn't we?
We made a thorough search of the house,
we put all those pictures of him up on the lampposts.
You called Chris Packham on Autumnwatch...
and at his home.
I really don't think there's anything constructively that we can do.
Well, we could take up the floorboards.
What are you...?
Wait. Taking up the floorboards might be a little bit expensive.
-How much would it cost?
-About 2,000 hamsters' worth.
Look, I tell you what, your dad and I will have a think about it
and we'll see what we can come up with, OK?
What did you say that for?
Well, she's had such a difficult time lately,
I didn't want to upset her any more.
So what do you suggest? Cos now she's not going to be happy
until that hamster is the focus of an international rescue effort
and live reports from Orla Guerin.
It's not about the hamster.
No, it's her anxiety about school coming out sideways.
We don't have to do anything.
We just have to be sympathetic.
So all that stuff you said, that was...
Oh. OK. Fair enough.
I need to pick a piece for my audition. Could I try some out on you?
-I was thinking that I'm going to go with
the Whitney Houston song, I Will Always Love You.
That... That's quite high.
Yeah, there are quite a few...top notes.
Which I'm sure you can hit, Ben, yeah.
I'll be in the shed if anyone wants me.
Stay and listen if you want.
Oh, no, no. I've got a tin ear. Your mum, she's the musical one.
I'll catch you later.
Could you just bung me that cardigan? There's a bit of a draught in here.
Oh, dear! You must be static-y.
DISTANT SIRENS WAIL
What are you doing? It's quarter past midnight.
What do you make of this?
I sent an email to Karen's form tutor
telling her that Karen didn't want to sit next to this girl Dionne
because she finds her disruptive, and the form tutor's emailed back,
saying that she takes my point, but she is...
"Running out of classmates who Karen is prepared to sit next to."
Well, that's fair comment, isn't it?
It just got me thinking, that's all.
Maybe Karen isn't the only one who's having problems settling.
Maybe it's a more general problem,
and then I thought there's a quick way to find out.
-Ask the other parents.
So I'm sending them all an email.
In God's name, no.
-You cannot send an email at 12:15am.
Because you will start one of those late night email firestorms.
Don't be ridiculous.
You should never, ever, send an email asking someone's opinion
after eleven o'clock at night.
Well, actually, I've already sent it.
All I've done is ask for the input of 30 or so adults.
Many of whom will have half a bottle of Merlot inside them
and be just itching to pour out their gripes.
Rubbish! This is exactly the kind of group consultation
that email is perfect for.
-There you are. I've already got a reply.
That's a lot of capital letters, isn't it?
Well, she's obviously a concerned mother who's...
who's a bit upset about the fact that the school has failed to make
the connection between her child's pyromania
and... And the fact that she is exceptionally gifted.
EMAIL ALERT Oh, there's another one.
Look at the exclamation marks on that!
-Well, again, he's a...
..who's a bit concerned about the quality of the teaching staff.
First time I've seen the word "wankers" spelt with a Z.
EMAIL ALERTS Oh, you've got another five replies.
No, six. You have hit a grievance gusher.
You're not replying, are you?
You can't not reply to a reply. That's rude.
EMAIL ALERTS You've already poked the hornet's nest,
you don't want to carry on whacking it.
In a way, this response is quite reassuring
-because Karen is obviously...
..not the only one with concerned parents.
I'm not concerned. I'm going to bed.
That thing is the king of toasters.
I'll tell you a way to make friends at a new school, Karen.
Do something mental.
I don't do mental.
My second day, I got this huge tray, and I
sledged down the roof of the music block. After that, I had tons of friends.
-And a surgical collar.
-Yeah, I got them all to sign it.
Why don't you join a band? That's a good way to make friends.
Or be the funny girl.
You could, like, create all the jokes and stuff
and you could make, like, a song up about your teacher,
and then put it on the internet. But, remember, wear a mask or something
cos, well, I didn't, and you need to hide your identity.
How's the shoulder, Spider-Boy?
-Good, good. How about you, Karen?
How are you? Raring to go?
Got double English today. You like English, don't you?
Dad, I did some research.
There are these things called thermal imaging cameras.
We could hire one.
Tommy's gone. He's not going to have survived for two months on his own.
-Because he's a hamster, not Bear Grylls.
-Yeah, all right.
-Hamsters are domestic pets. You don't see David Attenborough documentaries
about hamsters roaming the open plains.
-Tommy's natural environment is a wheel.
You're just grumpy because your spider's going green.
It's not a spider!
Oh. Jeez, look at the time. Come on, Karen.
Chop chop, cos you're going to miss your bus.
And no fluorescent socks!
Better check the travel news.
See if the District Line has phoned in sick again.
Why didn't you send Karen to the same school as me and Jake?
Well, every child is different.
Yeah, no two kids are the same.
She just said that.
Yeah. And I was I was reinforcing it.
-I mean, it was a tight decision.
-Eh, we felt that, um...
-On... On balance,
em, the school Karen's at is known for...having lots of structure.
Structure, that's right.
And, eh, the school is a school with a more...scholastic approach.
So, in the end, we felt, eh, Karen would perhaps
benefit from being challenged, academically speaking.
Are you saying she's brighter than us?
-Not at all.
-No. No way.
-Cos actually what we actually are saying
is that every child has different needs.
And one chooses a school which is best tailored to that child's needs.
I think they bought it.
FRONT DOOR CLOSES Ben?
No, the slam wasn't deafening enough!
What are you doing?
While watching TV, listening to music and Facebooking.
Mm-hmm. I'm multitasking.
There's no such thing as a multitasking, just doing lots of things badly.
The correct term is "multifailing".
The warrior returns. Feed me, wench!
Pete, this is Esme.
Hello, Mr Brockman.
Oh, hi, Esme.
(That's encouraging. She's invited a friend home.)
(I invited her.)
-Yeah, I overheard her mum, struggling with some pick-ups, on the phone,
so I volunteered to have Esme for a bit, you know, for a bit of bonding.
So, girls, how was school today?
Anything exciting happen?
You're very quiet, Karen.
She got a 4L in English.
Well, that doesn't sound so bad.
No, it is.
Well, er, then, Karen,
it's... It's a very good position to improve from.
Then she argued with the teacher about her bad mark,
and because she kept arguing, we missed most of our break.
Well, she's a horrible teacher. She's obsessed with apostrophes.
-Apostrophes are important.
-No, they're not.
Everyone gets them wrong and they slow down your texting.
You need punctuation.
If you didn't have punctuation, look, the words would just crash into each other.
-You need colons and semicolons...
Colons are very important. If you didn't have a colon,
you wouldn't be able to put a smiley face at the end of your text messages.
Punctuation is stupid. It's just...
Let's not get sidetracked, shall we?
The thing is, Karen, you go to a school where there are a lot of
bright kids, and it's important that you don't measure yourself
against anyone else. You must always just measure yourself against...yourself.
How can you measure something against itself?
It'll just be the same size.
What was the exact mark?
-Well, that's midway.
-It's slightly lower than that, actually.
Yes, thank you, Esme. You're clearly very good at maths.
I am quite good.
They asked me to mentor Karen cos she's struggling a bit.
-Who wants some ice-cream? Ice-cream?
-Oh, no, she can't have any,
because she's lactose intolerant. Isn't that a shame?
-Oh no, not that either.
It's got nuts, and so her face'll go like...
..and then they'll have to stab her with an EpiPen.
-FRONT DOOR SLAMS
-BEN: I'm ho-ome!
-What has that door ever done to you?
Eh, Ben, this is Esme. So how did the audition go?
With the, eh, singing?
-Good. Right. So... So, you got a part?
-Right. Which one?
-No, I'm Spartacus!
I'm going to hear that joke a lot, aren't I?
That's brilliant, Ben. So... So is that, em...
Is that a big part?
I'm Spartacus in a musical called Spartacus.
No, of course, sorry... No, but... So that's the lead?
And, em, does the lead sing songs?
Does the lead sing songs in a musical?
Yeah, I know. What I meant...
Does the lead sing many songs?
But Mr Farthingwell says he didn't cast me cos of my voice.
He cast me for of my sense of attack.
What? The way you attacked the songs?
No. The way I attacked the other gladiators with my trident.
Are we having ice-cream?
Yeah, apart from Esme. She's lactose intolerant.
Well, scoop me in. How was your day at school, Karen?
She got a written warning for non-regulation socks.
And a poor mark in English.
Well, the midterm marks don't really count for much.
-They do, we have continual assessment...
-Shall I drive you home, Esme?
Erm, I'm not sure my mum's home yet.
That's all right. We can wait in the car.
-Goodbye, Mr Brockman.
There you go. Madame's ice-cream.
What flavour is it?
Your favourite. Lemon and badger.
I wish Esme hadn't gone.
I wanted to eat this in front of her.
Yeah, I know.
You know, being a star student, it's not the be-all and end-all.
Churchill - Winston Churchill, not the insurance dog -
he never came top at school. In fact, most of the time he came bottom,
but that didn't stop him leading Britain to victory in the war.
Well, maybe if he'd studied harder,
the war wouldn't have taken him so long to win.
No... Fair point.
You haven't been firing off more emails to parents, have you?
No, I was just acknowledging an email from the school about the inset day.
Oh, right. Non-intervention - that's always the best policy.
Look at Tony Blair.
He thought he could solve the world's problems.
Now everyone hates him.
Mind you, I hated him from the start.
Too many teeth.
So, what was Esme's mum like?
Well, sort of as you'd expect, really.
She thinks Esme isn't being stretched enough.
I'd like to stretch her...
on a rack...
made of peanuts.
When I was at school, we had a kid like her.
-He got sent to Colchester.
No. They stuck him in a crate and sent him to Colchester.
It's a bit of a worry, though, isn't it?
Karen being less popular than a girl like Esme.
-I feel so helpless, don't you?
-It's because of our programming.
-We're of that generation
of parents who've been conditioned to think that
everything should revolve around our kids.
When I was a kid, my dad and my uncle took me to watch football.
Then afterwards, they went to the pub.
And left me in the car outside.
Every hour or so, they brought me a bottle of Tizer.
They locked me in the car, obviously. They weren't irresponsible.
Well, what would have happened if the car caught fire?
I hadn't thought of that. God, yeah...
And that was better, was it? Abandoning children in death traps?
I'm just saying that, in those days, your parents just left you alone.
Yeah, I suppose we do get too involved in their lives.
My parents didn't even help me with my homework, let alone do it for me.
-Oh, have you set the alarm?
Oh, no. I need to get up at seven.
No, it's all right because I've started setting this clock 15 minutes fast.
Because then, when I get up, it's a nice surprise
when I realise I've got more time than I thought I had.
Well, that explains why I've been getting to work so early.
BATTLE NOISES AND HORSES ON TV
Spartacus - the movie. I'm doing research.
He just ambushed the Romans with flaming logs.
I'm going to mention that to Mr Farthingwell as a possible finale.
See that chin?
We had proper film stars back then.
Proper men. None of your pasty-faced pretty boys
who're all cheekbones and can only play vampires.
You left out the bit about how the tigers weren't all built by computers.
Well, I still say that Life of Pi would have been a lot more exciting
if he'd been trapped in that boat with a real tiger...
Certainly a lot shorter.
They've only sent me a reminder for zero pounds and zero, zero pence.
Um, I was considering the option
of maybe having the tattoo removed.
Yeah, so, I mean, any idea how much a tattoo removal might cost?
No, because I've never been dim enough to get myself tattooed.
And the answer to your next question is no.
You're going to have to pay for it out of your own money.
What's all this?
That's some quotes from a company who hire out thermal imaging cameras.
Oh, for... She's not still banging on about that hamster, is she?
Yeah, she's pretty thick for someone who was too bright to go to our school.
Oh, right. They didn't buy it.
So where is the girl? Tunnelling under the floorboards?
Um, no. She's up in her room. She's... She's had a few problems today.
What are these problems?
SHE SIGHS Well, do you remember
when I acknowledged the school email about the inset day?
Well, I sort of, um... I sort of added a little addendum,
eh, just to say that if Karen was to be punished for the sock thing,
then I felt the school dress code should be enforced consistently,
cos I've seen lots of girls wearing black trainers.
Well, it seems the school took it on board because apparently today
a lot of kids were punished for not wearing the proper school uniform.
How is this Karen's problem?
Well, it... It's like this.
Um, so I sent the secretary the email,
-but accidentally by mistake...
-..I also sent it...
..to the parents of Karen's classmates.
Oh, for f...
It's so easily done!
But, the really unfortunate bit is that one of the parents,
rather irresponsibly, in my view, obviously mentioned it
to one of the kids, and, eh, Karen has been on the receiving end
of quite a lot of verbal abuse today.
I can't... We've talked about this, haven't we? We've talked about
-the dangers of the urge to intervene.
-I know, it's...
This... This is Tony Blair. You are Tony Blair.
-I'm not Tony Blair.
-Yes, you are. You went charging in.
BEN: According to the Wiki, Spartacus is from Thracia.
So I'm going to work on singing in a Thracian accent.
Just as soon as I find out where Thracia is.
I clicked the wrong thing! Everybody's done it. It was late.
I was multitasking.
There is no such thing as multi...
Choose your next words very carefully because they could be your last.
Oh... It'll blow over in the end.
I'll go up and talk to her.
You will put in a good word for me, won't you?
Ow! Right, that's it!
I heard you had a bit of a bad day.
I'm not going into school tomorrow.
-Oh, come on...
-I'm not going.
Mum didn't mean to cause you problems. It's just that sometimes
things turn out badly, even if they're done with good intentions.
Well, do you remember when Ben decided
to surprise Mum on Mother's Day with a lovely cooked breakfast?
You probably don't remember, you were very little.
I remember being carried by a fireman.
Well, that is a classic example.
You see, Ben thought that he was doing something very kind
and thoughtful, but it ended up with everyone getting very cross.
Mum was cross with Ben. The firemen got cross with Mum.
I got cross with the man from the insurance company who tried to argue that
Ben qualified as an Act of God.
But it all began with good intentions.
Well, try telling that to the morons at my school.
-Did you call them morons?
-And did that make them back off?
No. Generally, telling people they're morons
doesn't really help, especially if they're morons.
Cos morons are notoriously slow to catch on.
But how am I going to get them out of my face? I've got to do something.
Listen, the best thing to do is just ignore them.
Sometimes a bad day will come along,
but when it does what we have to do is we have to dust ourselves down,
we have to get up and we have to face the world. OK?
Everything will be fine, you'll see.
Can I tell them that it's all Mum's fault for being an interfering idiot?
OK. But this conversation never happened.
Karen is having trouble adapting to big school, Ben is auditioning for a part in the school musical even though he has a voice like a walrus, and Jake has made a foolish - and possibly permanent - fashion choice. Meanwhile, Mum and Dad try very hard not to interfere or send disastrously explosive emails.