No, No Nigel!

Christopher Fowler
I canot beleev it. Nigel Molesworth, the curse of St Custards, is to becom the star of a feetur film! How can Peason, Grabber and Fotherington-Thomas make the jump to the big screen? Will Headmaster Grimes (BA, Stoke-on-Trent) still be feersum? The producers behind the animated feature 'Ethel & Ernest' are teaming up with Uli Meyer Studios (who have form; they did the very attractive Ronald Searle inserts in the more recent St Trinian's films) to produce the 2D, hand-drawn feature, based on The Compleet Molesworth series by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle. Searle's baroque, curlicued style makes animation difficult - he could never be computer rendered, which adds a third dimension - but artists have tried before. Bill Melendez, who did the Charlie Brown cartoons, made a feature called 'Dick Deadeye' in 1975 which featured many Gilbert & Sullivan characters and their associated music because that was the year G&S came out of copyright. The animation was pretty but hopelessly stilted. The Nigel Molesworth character was first drawn by Ronald Searle for Punch magazine and was later developed into a series of books, published in 1953, as any fule kno. Matt Lucas has been cast as the power-hungry skoolboy, but how will the story survive without the deranged spellings and layouts of the books? And there's one worrying comment; it will be 'an
adventure romp in the tradition of classic 1950s comedies, but brought right up to date for today's family audiences, for a whole new generation to discover.' Molesworth on a mobile? The horror!


Jo W (not verified) Thu, 13/02/2020 - 09:50

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I was first introduced to Nigel Molesworth books by our English teacher, when I started at Grammar school. No, she didn't hold them up as an example of how not to write, she thought them extremely funny and often quoted from them. Looking back over the hem hem, sixty years, I regret that I never thanked her. I have had all the books since I went out to work and could afford to buy them. Until then they were regulars on my borrowing list from the library.
Now they are going to try a film version. I will await that with interest. Now, if you will excuse me, I feel the need to read on from that opening to How To Be Topp. Thank you, Christopher, for helping me to decide which book to read today, I will be able to remind myself of the private life of the gerund.

Peter Dixon (not verified) Thu, 13/02/2020 - 10:08

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

No Latin? Sharing class with GURLS? Only Fotherington-Thomas will enjoy it because now you can say hello flowers hello trees with impunity and personal backing from Prince Chas. Molesworth and Peason in TRANERS? No postal orders from Aunt Cecily - only BASC transfers.Good to see Johnson minor elevated to the level of his incompetence - ha always fell sick or went on hols when revision was mentioned.
The future does not look good - we don't even have (as promised in Eagle comic) personal jet packs and Atomic Laser Blast pistols to singe teechers mortar-boards from a safe distance.
Will Molesworth's next masterpiece be titled 'Knife Crime at St Custards'? Reason does not cut a dash wearing a hoodie. I fear the worst.

N. Molesworth

Peter Dixon (not verified) Thu, 13/02/2020 - 10:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Meant to say Peason, not Reason - cursed spell checker will obviously prevent any new Molesworth books being published at all.

Andrew Holme (not verified) Thu, 13/02/2020 - 10:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Like Jo W I await the film with interest and tightly crossed fingers. Matt Lucas could be an inspired piece of casting. I always thought that a Molesworth spell checker applied to all our daily interactions would enhance our lives, especially to Government business and proposals. Hi spede tranes, anyone?
Working out the jokes is a great part of the fun with Willans writing. But what the hell are GATS? Gatling guns?

Liz Thompson (not verified) Thu, 13/02/2020 - 16:12

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

They'll always be favourite books of mine. What will they think of next? Just William in the 2020s?

Ian Mason (not verified) Thu, 13/02/2020 - 18:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Ah, I see that Admin's youth was not as misspent as mine. "The Gat" was a brand of very cheap, largely useless, air pistol that was popular with small boys of a grubby behind the ears, mischevious nature. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gat_air_pistol

Roger (not verified) Thu, 13/02/2020 - 19:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Molesworth's idiosyncratic spelling is excellently suited for texting, in fact.
There were a couple of sequels by Simon Brett (?) in which a grown-up Molesworth reports on the disillusionment of adulthood. Mildly amusing, but - like so many of us - growing up removed the pleasure and hope in life for dere little Nigel.

Andrew Holme (not verified) Fri, 14/02/2020 - 08:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Roger, many thanks. I've always been perplexed about Nigel's 'Gat', because I thought a Gatling Gun was a wheeled machine gun. How big were his pockets?!

John Howard (not verified) Fri, 14/02/2020 - 09:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sorry to put my hand up from the back but one wonders about the meaning of Gat.... I always understood it to be as described here in a guide to the language of film noir.

Bean-shooter/Gat/Heat/Rod: A gun, also heater

Agree that Matt Lucas could be inspired but, like most things, will the writing be good enough for us discerning folks.

Ken Mann (not verified) Fri, 14/02/2020 - 10:42

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Had these confiscated off me at school. A surprise given that I wasn't actively reading them at the time. Their mere existence in my possession was a problem apparently.

Andrew Holme (not verified) Fri, 14/02/2020 - 11:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Re: 'Gats and coshes'. Molesworth is peculiarly English, so his gat gun being a small useless air pistol which he wields like an American tommygun pretending to be George Raft makes sense. Willans could have used 'zips and blackjacks' , but the joke wouldn't have been quite right, ( we're back to Galton and Simpson's " very nearly an armful".) I think Molesworth as a problem for teachers obviously depended on the teacher involved. At my grammar school in the early Seventies, the teachers that had read them as kids loved them, whereas some of the pre war relics that still inhabited the education system hated them. " Atrocious spelling, boy!"

Ian Luck (not verified) Fri, 14/02/2020 - 23:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Molesworth's diagrams of teachers were spot on. At my school, we had teachers who were a match for every one, including one particular sports teacher: "I might not know much, but I am good at football". Although that puzzled me, as Molesworth normally refers to the 'Ugly, Pointless Game' as 'Foopball'. The table of 'Grips And Tortures For Masters', including the 'Plain Blip', the 'Cumberland Creep with Silver Pencil', the 'Single Hair Extraction for Non-Attenders', and the 'Side Hair Tweak (exquisitely painful)', were definitely known to some of my secondary school teachers. And used by several.
I often re read the Molesworth books, and am still reduced to tears of laughter at his description of the school piano "Middle C go Whump!", and, if he is to be believed, has a gun turret on the back of it. Similarly, the 'Construction Of The Whizzo Spaceship', with it's parts list, containing such items as 'Crabbing Pins' and a 'Cormthruster'. Indeed, if I go to a flea market or a car boot sale with my brother, and we come across a stall with lots of random mechanical bits and bobs, one of us will usually say: "Wonder if they've got any Crabbing pins or a Cormthruster?"

snowy (not verified) Sun, 16/02/2020 - 02:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

William? Jennings? Bunter?

Where are the GURLS? [Or ar they just wets and weedz, wot a swiz.]

Wayne Mook (not verified) Mon, 17/02/2020 - 21:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If you want an updated school boy terror, Dennis the Menace is still in the Beano and on TV. Still looks basically the same with his stripy, but of course he has a BMX, skate board and makes the noisiest music going, heavy metal. Still the same nemesis but less violence, more pranks especially joke shop tricks, food fights and of course farting. my eight year old is obsessed with the latter. They recently had Minnie the minx as a Princess Leia type who goes to the dark side.

Recently they celebrated Banana Man's 40th. The latest comic has The Teacher Who Came to Tea, with Minnie again, in celebration of the Tiger Who Came to Tea.


Ian Luck (not verified) Thu, 20/02/2020 - 08:49

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The best comicbook schoolboy in my opinion was 'Faceache', drawn, I believe, by the great Ken Reid. Faceache can change his appearance to look like anyone - or any thing - some of these are so nightmarish, that you laugh. Each is accompanied by the sound effect that is:
My favourite comicbook school story, though, is 'Tinribs' from 'VIZ' comic, which is a foul- mouthed and violent homage to the 'Dandy'(R.I.P.) character, 'Brassneck', who is a robot schoolboy, who, in the 1970 Dandy annual, accidentally, whilst testing out a model war catapult, starts a full-on neighbourhood battle, with dads using toys recieved as Christmas presents. It escalated quickly.