Fifty Years On – Mind Your Language

Fifty Years On” is the fourth episode of the fourth season of Mind Your Language. It was first broadcast on the 21st of October 1985.


On her birthday, Miss Courtney receives a threatening letter from an unknown sender. Meanwhile, Ingrid meets Anna, Maria, Michelle and Giovanni in the canteen and shows them a mink coat she bought for the lady she’s au pairing with, which she leaves with Rita before her class starts. Mr. Brown has his students read their essays about their most moving experiences while he waits for Miss Courtney’s present – an engraved wind-up clock – to be delivered, then takes them to the canteen for Miss Courtney’s surprise party. Ingrid learns that Rita gave her mink coat to Henshawe, who put it in Miss Courtney’s office for safekeeping, so Miss Courtney assumes it’s her birthday present when she finds it there and Mr. Brown doesn’t have a chance to give her the clock.

Ingrid is worried that she’ll be fired if she doesn’t get the coat back, but when Mr. Brown goes to Miss Courtney’s office to clear things up, she receives another threatening letter and sends him away while she telephones the police. He returns to the classroom and resolves to tell Miss Courtney the truth before school ends, but she shows up a few minutes later and says that she can’t keep the coat because she’s the chairperson of the Women’s Guild, which is morally opposed to fur clothing. Ingrid gets her coat back, and Mr. Brown sends Juan to the canteen to collect the clock and present it to Miss Courtney.

Rita and Henshawe strike up a conversation in the corridor while Miss Courtney is in the loo. Henshawe has yet another threatening letter for Miss Courtney, but reveals that he’s just caught the man responsible: a “drunken old fool” who holds a grudge against the principal for expelling him when he was 13, but has been sending letters to the wrong school. Juan sees them on his way to Miss Courtney’s office, takes the letter from Henshawe and places it on the principal’s desk atop the box that contains the clock. Miss Courtney returns to her office, reads the letter, and panics when she hears ticking coming from the box. Thinking it’s a bomb, she runs out of the building with Mr. Brown and Juan close behind, makes her way to a bridge and throws the box into the River Thames, where she and Mr. Brown watch it sink out of sight.


Giovanni: Can I get you a cup of coffee?

Michelle: No, thank you.

Giovanni: Cup of tea?

Michelle: No.

Giovanni: You sure there’s nothing I can get?

Michelle: Sure! You can get lost.

(Michelle is reading her essay to the class.)

Michelle: I was walking along in the Bois de Meudon. It was a beautiful spring day…and coming towards me, I see this man. He was so ‘andsome. We stop; we look at each other. My ‘eart starts to beat faster. ‘E take me in his arms, and we kiss. Then he take me into the tree, and we kiss again. Then we lie on the grass, and–

Mr. Brown: Yeah, I think that will do, Michelle.

Michelle: But there is much more!

Mr. Brown: Yeah, but I’ll read it later.

Michelle: It’s very moving.

Mr. Brown: I’m sure it is…was…w-will be.

Mr. Brown: Farrukh.

Farrukh: Yes please?

Mr. Brown: Would you come up and read your essay please?

Farrukh: Oh blimey, I cannot be doing that.

Mr. Brown: Well, why on earth not?

Farrukh: Because I am not writing one.

(Ingrid is wondering what to do now that Miss Courtney has her mink coat.)

Giovanni: You could give her the clock.

Ingrid: (Advances on Giovanni with a raised fist.) I give you a clock!

Mr. Brown: That’s enough! Losing our tempers will not solve anything.

Ingrid: If I don’t get the coat, I will get the bag.

Mr. Brown: The bag?

Ingrid: Yes, my job I will lose!

Mr. Brown: Ah, you mean the sack!

Ingrid: Sack, bag…either way, no job I have!

Ranjeet: I am thinking you are being turkey.

Giovanni: He means you’re a chicken.

(Mr. Brown is asking his students to complete some figures of speech.)

Mr. Brown: As thick as…

Farrukh: …Ranjeet.

(Giovanni grabs Ranjeet and restrains him.)

Mr. Brown: …thieves.

Farrukh: Jolly good.

Mr. Brown: Ranjeet. As ugly as…

Ranjeet: …Farrukh.

Mr. Brown: As drunk as…

Giovanni: …my boss.

Mr. Brown: As drunk as a lord!

Giovanni: You haven’t met my boss; he’s always drunk.

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