Headteacher in a dress: victim of Daily Mail sting will go on stage at Edinburgh Fringe

Tim Dingle was the headteacher of one of the highest-performing state schools in the country when the Daily Mail published a photo of him in a red dress.

Thirteen years on, the former head of the Royal Grammar School in Buckinghamshire is donning the red dress again, in order to tell his story for the first time. His stand-up show, Giving Head, is among a large number of education-related performances being staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August.

“My mother was furious,” Mr Dingle tells TES about the scandal. “She said, ‘You, in a red dress, darling? Blue is your colour.’ ”

The Daily Mail suggested that he wore the dress on a regular basis; in fact, he was at a fancy dress party.

“It was an awful thing to open the paper and see,” he says. “But it’s a great way to open a show. It is 100 per cent my story, but also 100 per cent stand-up comedy. It’s all authentic and truthful. It must be true: I read it in the Daily Mail.”

Mr Dingle’s routine also includes a more general expounding of his views on the education system. “I think the pressures on heads are intolerable,” he says. “They’re destined to fail, because of the pressures they’re under.

“There isn’t a self-help group for heads, and there should be.”

Nonetheless, he does not believe that his new career is so very far removed from his previous one. “Comedy is like doing a really good lesson,” he says. “And the whole class applauds.

“The Daily Mail article was made up in so many ways. The bottom paragraph said I was a wonderful lover. But I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed.”

For more on this story, get the 31 July edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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