Simon Smith urges people to explore 21st century boarding ahead of BBC One drama Decline and Fall
3rd April 2017

Rydal Penrhos’ Headmaster Simon Smith has urged people to “come and see how boarding life has changed in the 21st century” ahead of the premiere of a highly anticipated TV series.

The BBC’s new comedy drama Decline and Fall is based on the novel of the same name by Evelyn Waugh – a 1928 social satire about the life of Paul Pennyfeather.

The series, the first episode of which airs this evening (Friday 31 March) at 9pm, is initially set at a North Wales boarding school, the fictional Llanabba Castle.

Paul Pennyfeather is an Oxford student who gets expelled from his college after getting up to antics with the ‘Bollinger Club’ and is surprised to find himself appointed as a schoolmaster at Llanabba. His colleagues are an assortment of misfits and the pupils in their charge run riot.

Fast forward to today and conditions are somewhat different at modern boarding schools across the country.

Mr Smith, said: “Waugh’s first novel lampoons the social mores of 1920s Britain and the book is extremely funny.

“I look forward to seeing how it has been translated to the screen, but I hope viewers do not take its portrayal of life in an independent school too literally! Modern boarding schools - like Rydal Penrhos, which seems to have inspired Waugh’s setting early last century – are very much homes from home: bright, warm, welcoming and with a real family atmosphere.

“Children can be flexi-boarders (staying up to three nights a week), weekly or full boarders from 11+ . Many pupils choose it themselves as they approach their senior years and the Sixth Form because they feel it is the very best way to get the most out of school life - supportive teachers, co-curricular activities and indeed great friendships. “

The all-star cast, led by comedian and actor Jack Whitehall, features a number of high-profile names including Eva Longoria, who plays school parent and love interest Margot Beste-Chetwynde.

David Suchet takes up the role of Dr Fagan, while The Night Manager’s Douglas Hodge plays Captain Grimes.

Also popping up are Stephen Graham and Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy from Game of Thrones).

Families wishing to see for themselves what modern boarding school life is like, contact Rydal Penrhos, email or call 01492 530155.

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