The History Boys is about a group of boys at a Sheffield school who have a chance at getting into Oxford or Cambridge and the attempts of their teachers to help them achieve their goal. Hector (Richard Griffiths) teaches them English and, if he can, tries to persuade them to ride pillion on his motorbike, thus giving him the opportunity for some inappropriate touching. Miss Lintott (Frances de la Tour) teaches them history. Mr Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore) is the new teacher, allegedly an Oxford man, who has come to the school to try to give the boys the academic edge they need to interest Oxbridge in them. The Headmaster (Clive Merrison) is keen for the pupils to succeed, though for himself rather than for themselves. The boys themselves are the usual mixture of stage-play characters: the heterosexual one; the gay one; the religious one; the Asian one; the Black one; the working class one.
Although everyone knows about Hector’s proclivities, this leads to his downfall when a lollipop lady sees him touching one of the boys. Mr Irwin, on the other hand, is gay, but not out there; and just as he seeks to hide his sexuality, he also seeks to hide the truth about his background which, inevitably, is outed: he never went to Oxford.
Dakin manages to blackmail the Headmaster in restoring Hector to his job. On this occasion, Hector rides off with Mr Irwin on the pillion (the likelihood of of tragedy was obvious) and dies in an accident. The film ends with a memorial service at the school, and a brief synopsis of how the lives of the boys turn out.
Overall, I enjoyed The History Boys even if it was a bit bog standard Alan Bennett with a mix of comedy, poignancy and tragedy.