BFI logo











Screenonline banner
KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 2 (1983)

Looking at characterisation though dialogue as well as mise-en-scene

Main image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 2 (1983)
AuthorJessica Hardiman
TopicDeveloping a full impression of character in Educating Rita
Key Words Educating Rita, Willy Russell, Frank, Liverpool, Open University, Education, Literature
Show full lesson spec

An analysis of character through reading stills from the media text and the written text

This lesson has been developed as part of a scheme of work based on the complete film of Educating Rita, not only the extracts provided on Screenonline (although these may prove useful as well). This lesson takes as its basis the scene in which Rita and Frank meet for the first time (around four minutes into the film).

This lesson idea uses the first meeting between Frank and Rita to enable students to learn to close-read a text and to identify aspects of characterisation; students learn to appreciate how dialogue, and consider how a director's choices about dress, setting, performance, lighting etc. inform and shape the audience's responses. Students are also encouraged to develop their analytical skills through close reading and to respond personally and sensitively to the film

Lesson Objective

  • To be able to be able to use independent understanding of the writer's use of character and form.


In the starter, students revise their P.E.E. (or critical) paragraphs by using textual evidence to write about their first impressions of Rita's character. Ask students to read Act One scene one and to note down ten details about Rita, and the textual evidence that informed their ideas. Ask students to write one paragraph using textual evidence to support their ideas. During feedback praise students who have used evidence in their writing, and discuss the importance of closely analysing quotations, at word level.


Main Attraction

Explain to students that screen writers work from an original text and have to infer details about the characters if they are not specified in this original text. Ask the students to imagine that they are screen writers. What details would they be missing if they were going to film this scene? What would they want to know in order to be able to film this scene 'accurately'. Use the pause button to freeze frame five shots of the film during Act One scene one when the audience is introduced to Rita, and when she first meets Frank.

Five differing freeze frames from this extract are:

  1. When Rita is walking in the university grounds on her way to Frank's office;
  2. When Rita is on the staircase inside the university building;
  3. Rita outside Frank's office, with the camera looking down at Rita;
  4. Rita looking at Frank after meeting him;
  5. Rita looking around Frank's room.

Ask students to take notes about what they learn from each of these freeze frames. Give students the following headings to help them produce a broad and full range of ideas: dress, performance, gesture, facial expression, feelings. As an extension pupils can also comment on the camera angles being used, and the nature of each shot. (Ideally, give students colour copies of these freeze frames, so that they can annotate each one, rather than taking notes in their book without the slides.)

Ask students to select two freeze frames they have annotated and compare and contrast them in a piece of critical writing, using evidence to support their ideas. If time allows, ask students to read aloud from their pieces of writing.


End Credits

Ask students to write a short diary entry, in role as Rita, after her first meeting with Frank. The piece of writing should include Rita's feelings and expectations before and after meeting Frank (using only the freeze frames as stimulus material).


External Links

Video Clips
1. Party preparations (3:18)
2. The wedding (3:41)
3. Summer school (2:55)
4. Dying without Mahler (1:58)
Downloadable Teaching Resources

Related Films and TV programmes

See also

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 1 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 1 (1983)

Comparing the play with the film

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 3 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 3 (1983)

Dramatic devices and their influence on an audience's interpretations

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 4 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 4 (1983)

Developing a full impression of a character

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 5 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 5 (1983)

A speaking and listening activity looking at characterisation