The History Boys

Synopsis: In 1980s Britain, a group of young men at Cutlers' Grammar School all have the brains, and the will to earn the chance of getting accepted in the finest universities in the nation, Oxford and Cambridge. Despite the fine teaching by excellent professionals like Mrs Lintott in history and the intellectually enthusiastic Hector in General Studies, the Headmaster is not satisfied. He signs on the young Irwin to polish the students' style to give them the best chance. In this mix of intellectualism and creative spirit that guides a rigorous preparation regime for that ultimate educational brass ring, the lives of the randy students and the ostensibly restrained faculty intertwine that would change their lives forever.
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director(s): Nicholas Hytner
Production: Fox Searchlight
  Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 2 wins & 12 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
109 min

# Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye

# Cheerio, here I go on my way

# Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye

# Not a tear

but a cheer, make it gay

# Give me a smile

I can keep for a while

# In my heart while I'm away

# Till we meet once again, you and I

# Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye

The peace of God, which passes all

understanding, keep your hearts and minds

in the knowledge and love

of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord,

and the blessing of God Almighty.

The Father, the Son

and the Holy Spirit

be upon you and remain with you,

this day and always. Amen.

(# "Blue Monday" by New Order)

Will that do the trick,

do you think?

We're about to find out.


- Ready?

- Ready.

Mum, please. Lads, wait.

Just get in the car.

I'll be back in five minutes.

Let's get it over with.

(shouting) Fiona, Fiona!

Read out from the top.

Fiona, just read it out. Let's see.

Three A's! I got three A's!

Three A's!

- Chris, what did you get, man?

- Full house!

Three A's! Three A's! (laughs)

- Told you you would.

- Full house!

- Hey, what did you get?

- Er, A and two B's.

- Hey, it's Dakin.

- Stuuuuhoooo...

Stu, what happened?

- Are you not gonna look?

- I got mine last night.

- I bet you did.

- (laughs) You jammy sod.

- Lockwood.

- Felix.

- Lockwood.

- Sir.

Why are you dressed as a milkman?

- Working, sir. For the 'olidays.

- As a milkman?

After the holidays you'll be coming

back to try for Oxford and Cambridge.

Your A-level results

are the best we've ever had,

and they demand

that you return for an extra term

to work for the examination

to our ancient universities.

One more term, boys. One more push.

In the meantime,

try and do something... fitting.

- I'm in a bookshop, sir.

- Good, good.

- I'm on the bins.

- I'm a bouncer, sir.

- Lavatory attendant, sir.

- Gigolo.

- Congratulations, boys.

- Mrs. Lintott!

(shouts) Three A's! Three A's!

(cheering and yelling)

So, we shall be meeting again after all.

- (all) Yes, sir.

- At school you don't get parole.

Good behavior

just brings a longer sentence.

- Ah, you poor boys.

- See you next term, sir.

(buzz of conversation)

Thank you, Miss.

"The happiest youth,

viewing his progress through,

What perils past,

what crosses to ensue,

Would shut the book

and sit him down and die."

Congratulations, Dorothy.

You must be very pleased.

(# "This Charming Man" by The Smiths)


(Mrs. Lintott) You are entitled,

though only for five minutes, Dakin,

to feel pleased with yourselves.

No one has done as well.

Not in English, not in science,

not even, dare I say it,

in media studies.

And you alone are up

for Oxford and Cambridge.

So, to work. First essay this term will be

the Church on the eve of the Reformation.

- (groans) Not again, Miss.

- This is Oxford and Cambridge.

You don't just need to know it, you need to

know it backwards, Timms. Facts, facts, facts.

They're clever, but they're crass.

And were it Bristol or York,

I'd have no worries.

But Oxford and Cambridge?

We need a strategy, Dorothy,

a game plan.

- They know their stuff.

- But they lack flair.

Culture they can get from Hector.

History from you, but...

I'm thinking aloud now.

Is there something else?

Think charm, think polish.

Think... Renaissance man.

Leave it with me, Dorothy,

leave it with me.

Yes, Headmaster.



Ah, yes.

An innovation to the timetable.

- PE.

- Yes, Headmaster.

For the Oxbridge set.

"Surely not", you say. But why not?

This is the biggest hurdle of their lives

and I want them... galvanized.

Galvanized. Yes, Headmaster.

In the timetable,

our esteemed headmaster

has given these periods

the dubious title of "general studies".

I will let you into

a little secret, boys.

There is no such thing

as general studies.

General studies is a waste of time.

Knowledge is not general,

it is specific.

And nothing to do with getting on.

But remember, open quotation marks,

"All knowledge is precious

whether or not it serves the slightest

human use", close quotation marks.

Who said, Akhtar? Timms?

Lockwood, Dakin? (sighs)

"Loveliest of trees,

the cherry now..."

- A Housman, sir.

- "AE Housman, sir."

Wasn't he a nancy, sir?

Foul, festering, grubby-minded

little trollop.

- Do not use that word.

- But you use it, sir.

I do, sir, I know.

But I am far gone in age and decrepitude.

Er, you're not supposed to hit us, sir.

We could report you.

I know, I know.

You should treat us with more respect.

We're scholarship candidates now, sir.

- We're all going in for Oxford and Cambridge.

- Oxford and Cambridge! What for?

Old, sir. Tried and tested.

No! It's because other boys

want to go there.

It's the hot ticket,

standing room only.

- Where did you go, sir?

- I went to Sheffield.

- I was happy!

- (sniggering)

"Happy is England,

sweet her artless daughters;

Enough her simple

loveliness for me." Keats.

We won't be examined on that,

will we, sir?

- Keats?

- Happiness.

(approaching footsteps)

- You are?

- Irwin.

- Irwin?

- The temporary contract teacher.

Quite so.

The examinations are at the end of term,

which gives us, er...

three months, at the outside.

- You were at Cambridge. You know the form.

- Oxford. Jesus.

You see... I-I thought of going.

But this was the... the '50s.

Change was in the air,

and a spirit of adventure.

So, where did you go?

I was a geographer. I went to Hull.

They're a likely lot, the boys.

Erm, erm...

All keen.

One oddity - Rudge.

Determined to try for Oxford.

Christ Church, of all places.

(laughs) No hope. No.

Might get into Loughborough,

in a bad year. (laughs)

Er... otherwise, all bright.

But they need polish.

Edge. Your job.

We're low in the league.

I want to see us up there with Manchester

Grammar School, Haberdasher Askes,

Leighton Park.

Or is that an open prison?

No matter.

There is a vacancy, in history.

That's very true.

In the school.

- Ah.

- (both laugh nervously)

Get me scholarships, Irwin.

Pull us up the table and it's yours.

I-I'm corseted by the curriculum.

But I can find you,

er... three lessons a week.

- Not enough.

- (stammers) Yes, I agree. However...

I think I know where

we can filch an hour.

# Elle coute la java

# Mais elle ne la danse pas

# Elle ne regarde mme pas la piste

# Mais ses yeux amoureux

# Suivent le jeu nerveux

et les doigts secs et longs de l'artiste

# a lui rentre dans la peau

# Par le bas, par le haut

# Elle a envie de chanter

C'est physique

# Tout son tre est tendu

# Son souffl est suspendu

# C'est une vraie tordue

de la musique


O voudriez-vous travailler

cet aprs-midi?

Je voudrais travailler

dans une maison de passe.

- Oh l l!

- Qu'est-ce que c'est?

- A brothel.

- Ah!

He'd like to work in a brothel.

Trs bien.

Mais une maison de passe

o tous les clients utilizent

le subjonctif ou le conditionnel.

- (all sigh)

- Bien.

- D'accord, monsieur.

- Voil.

- (knocking)

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Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett (born 9 May 1934) is an English playwright, screenwriter, actor and author. He was born in Leeds and attended Oxford University where he studied history and performed with the Oxford Revue. He stayed to teach and research medieval history at the university for several years. His collaboration as writer and performer with Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Peter Cook in the satirical revue Beyond the Fringe at the 1960 Edinburgh Festival brought him instant fame. He gave up academia, and turned to writing full-time, his first stage play Forty Years On being produced in 1968. His work includes The Madness of George III and its film adaptation, the series of monologues Talking Heads, play and subsequent film of The History Boys, and popular audio books, including his readings of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Winnie-the-Pooh. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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