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KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 1 (1983)

Comparing the play with the film

Main image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 1 (1983)
AuthorJessica Hardiman
TopicCharacter in Educating Rita
Key Words Educating Rita, Willy Russell, Frank, Liverpool, Open University, Education, Literature
Show full lesson spec

An analysis of character through a comparison of a film with 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 opening sequence and first scene of the film (up to around four and a half minutes in).

This lesson idea uses both the film and the text of the play to compare and contrast the way a character is constructed, developing their ability to structure an argument and use evidence to support their ideas, and to respond personally to a text with close-reading and analysis. It also engages students with writing a critical essay in an appropriately formal style. Students need to be able to analyse texts at word level, and this lesson will build on students' ability to identify words and explain why they are effective at forming a particular impression of the character in the reader's mind.

Lesson Objective

  • To be able to compare and contrast how a playwright and a film director create a strong impression of a character in one scene, using textual evidence to respond to both media.


Play to students the opening titles and music of the play, covering the screen, up until just before Rita's entrance. Ask students to listen and try to guess what is going on simply from listening. Then ask students to discuss in pairs the following questions: what do you think is happening in the opening sequence. What atmosphere does the music/other noises/silences create?

After this activity show a selection of stills from the opening sequence. Ask students the same questions again, as well as the broader question: how do these stills help the audience gain an understanding of setting and action in the opening sequence?

During feedback ask students to consider a range of ways that directors convey information to the audience, and ask students to consider what the audience's impression would be with different music/different shots during the opening sequence.


Main Attraction

Explain to students that it is crucial that they learn to analyse texts in detail, referring to evidence from the text to support their ideas, both for their English Literature coursework, but also for their other coursework pieces, and also for their examinations. Explain that for the purposes of their Drama coursework, students need to analyse lines spoken by characters, stage directions and other dramatic devices, and the punctuation used in characters' speeches (to indicate tone, emotion etc).

Ask students to draw a table as shown in appendix one (below) or use the table below. Ask students to read Act One scene one until the end of Frank's telephone conversation with his wife. Students should write down in the table any details they can pick up about Frank, and the textual evidence which supports their ideas. (The variety of things they should look for is indicated in the table.)

Ask students to feedback their ideas in pairs, to share ideas and to create a fuller selection of ideas.

Now show students the opening sequence of the film, up to just before Rita's entrance. Ask students to complete their table but this time for the film. Again ask students to feed back their ideas in pairs.

Finally, ask students to circle any similarities in terms of the things they have learned about Frank, and to underline any differences.


End Credits

Ask students to vote on which version they find most effective to show the audience Frank's character. Explain that as well as using textual evidence to support their ideas and analyse this, they also need to be able to comment on the effectiveness of the writer's language/effects etc.

Remind the students that they need to be able to express their ideas in an appropriately form style. Ask students to use a writing frame (if needed) or to use discourse markers and causal connectives to write one paragraph in which they write, using textual evidence, about one similarity between the two texts, and one difference. Having done this, ask students to underline textual evidence, discourse marks and causal connectives in one another's work. Ask pupils to set themselves a target based on this criteria for improving their critical writing.


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

Thumbnail image of Educating Rita (1983)Educating Rita (1983)

Read more about this film

See also

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 2 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 2 (1983)

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

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

Thumbnail image of Caine, Michael (1933-)Caine, Michael (1933-)


Thumbnail image of Russell, Willy (1947-)Russell, Willy (1947-)

Writer, Composer