TONY ON TV: Classroom clashes, posh frocks and Ferraris

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THE holidays will soon be over and it’ll be back to school for many.

But TV seems impatient to get viewers through those school gates with a variety of programmes, both real and imaginary, to teach us a lesson or two on what goes on in . . . and out the classroom.

The fictional one, although some may say it’s all too real, is the return of the comedy ‘Big School’ (Friday, BBC1) written by David Walliams who also co-stars with Catherine Tate as teachers whose on-off relationship has taken a downward turn just at the start of a new academic year. So that looks as if they’ll be needing one-to-one tuition.

Tonight on Channel 4 there’s a special update on last year’s highly acclaimed ‘Educating Yorkshire’ series as the cameras return to Dewsbury to check up on staff and pupils, while tomorrow on ITV1 there’s a look at an American tradition now firmly embraced by British teenagers in ‘Prom Crazy: Frocks and Ferraris’ filmed at schools in Essex and Sussex.

The sightings of Italian super-cars purring around Mansfield are rare, but this one-off programme shows that the proms are now an established part of the calendar at around 95% of schools with luxury cars being hired at up to £1,000 a night, just shy of the £1,500 forked out by “belles of the ball” determined to wear a dress to dazzle.

Next week it’s down to some real learning for youngsters just starting out on a new stage in their education as CBBC opens the pages on its 15-part ‘Our School,’ a fly-on-the-wall documentary following the ups and down of pupils making the transition between primary and secondary education at Yarm in Cleveland.

What life is like in Year Seven and beyond is also the focus of Channel 4’s new eight-part series, ‘Educating the East End’ (Thursday), which heads to Walthamstow where it aims to captures every detail of life at the school, from playground high jinks and inspirational lessons to life-changing friendships and events.

The high life, rather than high jinks, is the theme of BBC2’s new documentary, ‘Hotel India,’ which opens its door tonight, giving viewers an insight what goes on at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, where the super-rich come to be treated like the Maharajahs of India’s past.

Opened in 1903, it has played host to royalty, rock stars and heads of state, and their mantra that the “guest is god” is evident in the 1,500 staff members’ impeccable attention to detail.

The four-part series also gives viewers a chance to nose around the hotel’s 15-room Tata Suite before shelling £9,000 a night as well as meeting Maria Mooers, one of the long-term residents who spends half of each year living in the Taj, and oil trader Captain Bhasin, who hosts a cocktail party in his suite, served by his butler.