Mr Briggs is a very complicated character to work out. Both him and Mrs Kay are very different. Mrs Kay is a very caring person and very easy going where as Mr Briggs is very strict and enjoys the fact that he has been sent on the trip as a spy. He has been sent as a spy to watch Mrs Kay because he knows that she is easy going and the children run rings around her because shes too soft and as a teacher he is reliable and trustworthy and will do exactly that.
When we first meet Briggs in the play driving along the poor Liverpool streets, the lollipop man Les refurs to him as a ‘arigant git’ which shows hes not respected by people, even people who dont know him as a person.
We first meet mrs Kay at the school gate surrounded by children and this hows she is popular with the children. She gives mr Briggs a cheery and happy greeting “Good morning mr Briggs.”but he only replies with a grumpy and misarable “Morning”.
Mrs Kay has organised a school trip for the progress class which is a special class for the special needed children. Two of the older boys, Reily and Digga also want to go on the trip but if mrs Kay had her own way she would take them but she knows its against the rules and asks them to get a note to ask if they can go but just as they both think they got their own way, she catches them out “If i dont ask for a note you’ll just hide behind the corner for ten mintues and say he said you could go.” She tells the children to get on the bus but the driver stops them because he doesnt want chocolate or lemonade on his bus but mrs Kay takes him for a private chat, facing him away from the bus so the two young teachers can get the children on the bus without him seeing and she tells him about what they go through but she exadurates to win him over to the childrens side and feel sorry for them and she succeeds. She knows what she was doing because when the young teacher Susan asks what did she say she said she lied. “Lied like hell of course.” She knows very well that they have got sweets and drinks.
When the children and teachers hear he is coming along on the trip they are disappointed because they know he will ruin the day because hes grumpy and they dont like him and he will spoil the day. He gets on the bus and amedately barks at the children to sit down and behave. He shouts without a reason, he always expects the worst and then he starts giving the children a lecture about how to enjoy the day and tells them how to enjoy themselves. He doesnt think of the fact that Mrs Kay has already talked to them and he wants to show not only the children but to show the teachers that he is incharge of the trip. He starts insulting them to Mrs Kay “You’ve got a right bunch…”. The children just say “Yes sir” to keep him happy but they don’t really intend to do what he says.
Briggs tells Mrs Kay that the driver is a headcase. He is showing that he totally disagrees about the kids unlike the driver, he does not feel sorry for the children or even think about their poor lifes.
A few boys in the back of the bus are smoking but Briggs only catches one boy, Andrews. He shouts at him and sends him to the front of the bus. He is very strict and would not let Andrews argue or answer him back. “I said get to the front!” Briggs stays at the back of the bus and sits between the 2 boys to make them behave.
Briggs starts talking to Digga about the docks as they pass the South Docks. He tells them how he goes there on the weekend to take pictures but Digga tells him that his dad works there and hates it. Briggs doesnt understand why he hates it so much because its a nice place but this shows he doesnt understand about the lifes these people have.
Briggs see’s Linda kneeling on her seat talking to Karen on the seat behind her. Briggs gets up and walks towards her. He seems to “pick” on her for the sake of it, about her not sitting proply, her chewing and her uniform. He’s just picking things out to have a go at her. “I don’t like your attitude one bit.” “I ain’t said nuffin yet have i?” He threatens her “Count yourself lucky your not a lad.” This would mean he would thumb her one but the reader wouldn’t be able to tell whether he means it or not.
Mrs Kay is totally opposite to Mr Briggs, she is sitting at the front of the bus with her arm linked to Carol. “Look more like mother and daughter than teacher and pupil.” Briggs starts to interrigate Andrews about smoking. This is the first time we see him listen and care about a pupil and see him ask a pupil rather than telling them.
Mrs Kay wants the children to stretch their legs where as Mr Briggs wouldnt have bothered. He would have let them sit on the bus until they got to Wales. They stop at the cafe and this is where we see how different Mr Briggs and Mrs Kay really are. Mrs Kay wants a coffee brake and give the children some freedom. Briggs is more sensible “They must be supervised.” He thinks that the other buses after their’s, wont be repsected because of all the caos the children might course but he only cares about their reputation of the school and doesnt really care about the other buses.
The bus stops again at the shop and the children are desperate for a brake and so is Mrs Kay so she heads off for a coffee in the garden which is not profencial for a teacher. She trusts the children but Briggs watches them off the bus shouting at them. He especially shouts at Ronson only because he is running not walking where as Mrs Kay’s only worry is they don’t go near the road.
Briggs and Mrs Kay sit outside the shop and have their first proper convisation. As usual she is relaxed and he is constantly worried about the children are behaving themselfs. Their opposite points of view are clear. She knows the shop is making profit from the children so Briggs accuses her of being on the childrens side, as though she shouldnt be. “There are times when i really think you are on their side.” She then tells him she didnt ask him to come on the trip but he implys that the headmaster told him to go to keep a eye on them.
Back on the coach, Briggs tries to get Colin on his side by talking down about Mrs Kay. “She thinks i cant see through all this wooly-headed liberalism…….it might look like love and kindness but if you ask me i dont think it does the kids a scrap of good.” But Colin is more like Mrs Kay than Mr Briggs so he stands up to him and disagrees with him. He restates that the children shoud have a good day.
Mrs Kay announces that they are off to the zoo. The children are delighted but Briggs tries to stop her and he fails because she ignores him. “(Ignoring him) Now as i was saying…..we’re very lucky to have Mr Briggs with us because he’s something of an expert in animal history.”
At the zoo, Briggs is happiest so far because he knows alot about the animals and sees the oppitunity to teach the children. Mrs Kay has told the children that if they want to know anything ask Mr Briggs. This is clever of Mrs Kay because shes getting him involved and he wil probly stop moaning for a while and give the other teachers a break.
Briggs is surrounded by children. He has relaxed alot but is not ready to be friendly because when the girls link his arm he stops..”Oh! (taking their arms away) Walk properly.” Hes not relaxed enough to link arms. Mrs Kay invites him to drink coffee. He reluctantly goes but would have been happy to go to the childrens zoo with the children. Mrs Kay tells him to stop worrying and that Colin and Susan are on duty. Shes trying very hard to be friendly and get him to relax but it turns out that Briggs was right becuase this is when the children steal the animals. He starts to enjoy himself. He offers to ‘give a talk’ to the children when they get back to school. “Oh Mr Briggs” she says sarcasticaly “oh would you?” She knows he is keen to help. this is good for him and the children.
For the first time in the play hes happy and relaxed and raring to go and the children are on the coach. Briggs “All checked and present off we go.” This is the first time he hasnt shouted at them. This is irony because now he trusts the children for the first time, they have done wrong but when he was shotuing at them, they had done nothing wrong.
The zoo keepers catch up to the bus and get on the bus, Briggs is at first angry with them because they take over the coach and critasize the teachers and children. Briggs would normally do that. He defends the kids for the first time and himself. However when he realises that they have stolen the animals, he appoligises to the keepers and takes them outside of the coach so no one can see him suck up to them. Its to keep his strict image. When he gets back on the coach he is furious. “I trusted you lot. I trusted you. all of you and this is how u repay me.” He says they have let him down and that they cant be trusted. “The minute we start to treat you like real people…” He calls them animals “That man was right, you act liek animals, animals!” He says “people like you” as if they are different. He is mostly mad because he is made to look incompetant and made to look really stupid.
The coach arrives at the castle and Briggs is back to his happy mood. Hes calmed down and he is determained to keep them in control this time so he takes a group of children around with him and teaches them to keep them behaved and occupied. This shows that Mrs Kays group are totally different and behaving as usual.
Carol and Mrs Kay we see how uneducated Carol is because she thinks the sea is a lake. This is a cosy scene until Briggs angrily interrups and tells the kids to move. “You two …. off! Go on move.” Carol and Adrews go but Mrs kay is angry too. “I was taking to those children!” Mrs ka and briggs argue about the trip. “…they are left to race abd chase abd play havoc” “You’re on their side arent you?” “Absolutely mr briggs, absolutely!” “Id suggest if you want this chaos to stop, then stop seeing it as chaos.” They start to argue about the head asking Briggs to come on the trip and starts to tell him that the kids dont have a future. She blames teachers like Briggs for failing these children. This is the only part of the play she is mad. She looses it with briggs and never with the kids. They both cant agree so she tells him that they are all going to the beach and if he doesnt like it, he can walk home.
On the beach, Briggs is now feeling sorry for himself and feels offended by Mrs Kay. He hasnt walked home for obvious reasons and sits on a rock and watches the others moodily. He is sulking because he didnt get his own way about goin home. Mrs Kay as usual is happily playing with the children explaining why they cant go swimming. This becomes the funniest part of the play when she ducks Kevin and he ends up thanking her because even in telling him off, she manages to make it fun. Just like a mother she even has a towel in her bag incase anyone of them gets wet.
Carol begins to worry Mrs Kay because she seems misarable and not joining in with the rest of the class. Carol just cant relax because shes dreading going home. Although Mrs Kay knows her well, she doesnt realise how serious Carol is.
A funny scene with Colin Susan and Reily but its only important because Briggs has been watching them and disapproves of their behaviour. He totally mis understands whats going on and later threatens Susan with reporting ehr behaviour.
Briggs sits from a distance and watches the children play football with mrs kay in goals. suddenly she notices carol is missing. Mrs kay and the other teachers hope that Briggs has seen her because he has been sat watching everyone butt his shows he’s not observated as he seems. He hasnt seen her. He argues with colin and this shows the tension and panic. He threatens the others and colin stands up to him “Look briggs its about time someone told you what a burk you realy are!” Briggs starts patronising colin.
At the beach the teachers have split to look for carol in all directions. Briggs is pissimistic as usual and says “Dont you mean TRY and find her?” He is unhelpful and sarcastic as always. We then see briggs on his own on a clifftop. It is not obvious that briggs finds carol because the author uses this to show us briggs’ human side. If mrs kay had found her we wouldnt have learnt anything new.
Briggs begins his usual self by shouting he is probly cross that she has wasted their time. He expects her to pbey him “Carol Chandler!” “Just come here!” and begins to walk towards her. “Dont you come near me.” He is taken back he stops dead. Hes not used to people answering him back. “I dont want you to come near me.” and the convosation proply begins. He provided she returns to the beach. “Lets go down to the beach.” but she is adamant. He cant believe his ears when she says shes staying there. “You what?” and he begins to get cross again. “Ive had just about enough today…. im not putting up with a pile of silliness from the likes of you.” Hes labeling her again and saying silliness equals hes not paying attension to how upset she really is. She takes a step further and threatens to jump off if he comes near her.He is astounded and agry. He tries again this time half coaxing but half threatening “Now come on! I’ll not tell you again!” He counts down 5 seconds but has to stretch out the last 2 seconds because she just stares at him blankly and Briggs stars back with the impatant rage. She insists shes not moving and for the first time he believes her and begins to worry. “Just what are you trying to do to me.” Hes vonurable. She tells him why she wants to stay there but he doesnt understand, again he tells her shes being silly but this time he says it kindly. She asks him if he cares and he assures her he does but it still sounds like a teachers care. she tells him if she jumped he would get into trouble and thast why hes trying ot stop her. She says he hates her and he’s lieing when he says he cares. “Dont lie you! i know you hate me.” Now he tries a different catic, he tries to persuade her shes got a future and somehting to look forward to but hes lieing about it because he knows she has no future. Shes not convinced and says no matter what they do shes not going back. “You’d send the coppers after me.” But the big suprise is when she says that if he was her father she would be all right. Briggs holds out his hand to carol but she is still moving to the edge of the cliff. He is aware of how close she is. Hes asking instead of telling her to come back to the beach abd reaches out to help her. He even says please which is the first in the play. this makes carol smile and she tells him he looks funny and he should smile mroe often. “Sir you should smile more often, y’ look great when you smile.” He knows the danger isnt over yet but when she asks will she be in trouble, he reasures her and promises. Danger is over and as she begins to go over the cliff, he grabs her and pulls her to safety, He holds her close to him for a moment. “Briggs wraps his arms around her.” He is as relieved for her as he is for himself.
Back on the beach, others waiting for news and begin to really worry. Just then Briggs approaches with carol. Mrs Kay is overjoyed to see her but unusally for her she makes a real fuss. Again unusually, Briggs defends carol, Stops Mrs kay making a fuss and says hes taken care of it. “It’s all right mrs kay, ive dealt with all that.” He quickly gets everyone on the coach so he can protect carol.
Driver asks are they going back to school. To everyones suprise, Briggs announces “its only early isnt it…you cant come all this way without paying a visit to the fair.” Everyone is delighted and one child says, followed by everyone else “Sirs taking us to the fair.”
At the fair ground, we see everyone together and everyone happy even Briggs. “On the waltzer the kids, including mr briggs and carol together in a car.” Most of the time we see briggs with carol making sure she is ahppy but also clearly, enjoying himself.
Beck on the coach everyone exsaucedid but happy. Briggs realy stands out stil wearing the cowboy hat which he either bought or won. All the children thank briggs “Sir thanks sir.. that was ace sir.” where as usually they woudl thank Mrs Kay. The fair has been the success of the day and its all thanks to him. They will forget him being horrible and innocently they ask him can they go back tomorrow.
On the coach everyone is singing on the way home and no suprise carol is sitting with Mrs Kay but it is a suprise that briggs is sitting at the back relaxed not to watch the children behave.
Briggs comes down to the front of the coach to see Mrs Kay. He seems disappointed that the day is over, when at the start he didnt want to be there. Hes obviously found another side to himself so it wasnt only the children who was suprised to see this other side. He is suprised to hear taht Mrs Kay has taken pictures of him. He offers to develope them but it seems to be the new Briggs making a nice gesture but readers will guess what hes going to do.
The last scene he wishes everyone goodnight but when Reily says “Enjoyed yourself today didnt you sir?” Briggs replies “Pardon?” Then he tells Linda about her uniform but he doesnt tell her off and this is when we realise he is back to the teacher ‘Briggs’ To our disappointment but not suprised we see him standing symbolicly with the school behind him so this shows he is back to reality and shows his career is important to him and so he crumples and distroys the evidence on the camera film.