Future telly drama overlord ANDREW DAVIES was responsible for unleashing The Worst Girl in the World on an unsuspecting public. Played with perfect bubblegum-popping malevolence by CHARLOTTE COLEMAN, she made her screen debut in , an edition of Thames Television’s children’s play miscellany THEATRE BOX involving a dormobile space shuttle, moustachioed male nuns, a nodding dog and the secret of the universe.
EDUCATING MARMALADE followed in short order, a sitcom that detailed the desperate efforts of her parents (played by JOHN BIRD and LINDA’ LA PLANTE’ MARCHAL/CAROL MACREADY) and education officer Wendy Wooley (ELIZABETH ESTENSEN, who developed an increasingly elaborate nervous tick as the series progressed) to find an educational establishment that could control her. each episode revolving around “hapless” local education authority personages trying to tame her – in one instance dispatching her to the latest establishment inside a nailed-up crate. Marmalade being Marmalade, all such plans were doomed to failure – in her own words, she put herself about, driving everybody potty. Regular parodies of other existing TV shows (always a good sign) featured, eg. “Cringe Hill” and “The Kids From Shame”.
There was a sort of mini-punk sensibility to Marmalade’s disinterested brand of mayhem, reinforced by a Bad Manners theme tune. In the second series, DANGER:MARMALADE AT WORK (in which various avenues of employment failed to contain the mop-haired wastrel) Coleman herself belted out a Sid Vicious-style opener (‘Jobs! I’ve had a few/and most of them/were pretty grotty-ah!’) But she’s still firmly in the catapult-twanging tradition of Minnie the Minx et al. ‘Marmalade Atkins, you are EXPELLED!’