TV review: Hank Zipzer (3 stars)

Henry Winkler stars in the adaptation of his own children's book series for CBBC

TV review: Hank Zipzer

Henry Winkler will remain forever in the hearts of those who grew up in the 1970s as The Fonz, the leather-clad cool greaser-dude from Happy Days. To later audiences, he might also be remembered for his roles in Scream and Arrested Development, but away from the screen, he’s crafted himself a career as a children’s author with the Hank Zipzer series of books.

This semi-autobiographical affair (like Zipzer, Winkler grew up facing difficulties due to his dyslexia) has now made it onto CBBC, with the author fully entitled to give himself a role, as he does by playing Mr Rock. This manchild music teacher is called to the headmaster’s office to explain himself almost as much as Hank. Newcomer Nick James plays our hero aka ‘the world’s greatest underachiever’ while some British comedy talent are well utilised: Nick Mohammed plays the stuffy headmaster, while Felicity Montagu is excellent as the splendidly-named callous teacher, Miss Adolf.

This is unmistakably an opening episode as the establishment of the characters is hammered home with earthquake-like subtlety while a couple of the performances are a little wooden. The first instalment is a little weak with Hank having trouble getting his written homework about what he did on his holidays done on time: help is at hand from his two best pals and a little initiative. We can only hope that, given there are 17 Hank Zipzer books out there, the show will prove to have cherry-picked the cream of the stories.

CBBC from Tue 28 Jan.

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