The Village Headmaster was the longest running series on Nigerian television. The original series (The Village Headmaster) ran from 1968 – 1984. The second series (The New Village Headmaster) ran from 1985 – 1991. There has been talk of doing a third series since c2001, but it has not been done.
The Village Headmaster introduced a lot of words and phrases into Nigerian English and some of these words are even used by people that were born after the series ended. A gossip is known as Amebo, a bald headed or close-shaven person is known as Gorimapa, an Igbo shop owner is known as Okoro and people still use Chief Eleyinmi’s catch phrases like, “immediate effect and automatic alacrity“, “nonsense and ingredients“, etc.
The show was so popular that it was talked about by presidents, coup plotters and newspaper columnists. The Village Headmaster was General Gowon’s favourite show and it was rumoured that the NBC often showed repeats when he was out of the country, so that he wouldn’t miss new episodes of the show. Major Adewale Ademoyega (one of the January 1966 coup plotters) referred to the show in his book “Why We Struck” and President Olusegun Obasanjo requested for copies of the show when he visited the NTA to commission some facilities (c2001). Obasanjo’s request led to comments by some NTA officials and former members of the cast and crew of the show that a third series would be made.
The Village Headmaster was first produced as a radio play for the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation WNBC, Ibadan, in 1958. Most of the people that produced the radio play eventually worked for the Nigerian Television Service (NTS) in Lagos and they decided to turn the radio play into a tv drama series. It debuted on tv in 1968. The original tv series ran from1968 – 1984. I had an uncle and an aunt who worked on the original series (I didn’t even know my aunt’s real name until I became an adult. Everybody called her by her screen name).
The theme music was composed by Kehinde Okusanya and it was one of my favourites. It was done with a gong and several talking drums. Incidental music with a similar melody was later done with a saxophone.
The show was stopped in1984 and was off the air for almost a year. Then it was revived in1985 as The New Village Headmaster (the NTA had a habit of reviving old series and attaching the word “new” to their titles, eg New Masquerade). Some of the old characters were removed (Ife Araba, Bassey Okon, Fathia Okon, etc) and some new characters were introduced (Cosmas Aderibigbe Ali, Dagbolu, Okoro, etc). The second series ran from 1985-1991. It was originally a one hour show, but its time slot was reduced to 30 minutes and the programme was moved from Monday to Tuesday c1989. The NTA stopped showing new episodes in 1990 and the programme was taken off air completely in 1991.
Kindly follow us on twitter:@AfricanVoice2