Ackley Bridge looks set to be the edgier version of Grange Hill meets Waterloo Road meets Shameless! Just what Channel Four needed, with characters who have been perfectly cast and gritty plotlines that don’t shy away from the truth – bring it on say I. Here are a few highlights from what I feel is going to become one of my favourite television shows!
Alcohol & Drugs ~ dealing with underage drinking from the off and then countering it with the drugs problem that one of the mums has is a hard-hitting message. It’s also an early direct link to the reasons why at least one of the pupils (mis)behaves and is repeating a year. Simone and Missy Booth are the two in question and they are played brilliantly by Samantha Power and Poppy Lee Friar. I’m already looking forward to watching this play out. It’s painful to watch yet spectacularly current and truthful. A storyline that has been established from the start and no doubt will become a running theme.
Mixed Race & Culture ~ the merger of the two school to form Ackley Bridge Academy has brought races and cultures together. The new mix lays down the gauntlet for racial differences and as was demonstrated in this episode, shows the hand of friendship being (reluctantly) held out only to be rejected. An interesting take on what continues to be an on-going issue in this country. I suspect that the potential plots won’t back away from being close to the knuckle either.
Naughty Teacher! – straight away one of the teachers is introduced as a wayward one! Liz White as Emma Keane shows us a down to earth, free spirited educator who bends the rules and locks horns with the new head teacher. She also has an eye for the men and a disturbed, social media-happy daughter. There is so much scope with this situation, I’m rubbing my hands together with glee!!
Jo Joyner – Tanya from EastEnders we may recognise her for, or I certainly do – but she’s putting her stamp on a new and strong character with many layers. I’m going to enjoy watching her take us on Mandy’s journey as head teacher and of course, let’s see if she really is having an affair…
Lorraine Cheshire – Lorraine has to have her own mention, Patron of this website and a lovely lady – Lorraine never fails to impress me as an actor. I’m delighted to see her playing the disapproving Lorraine, she’s just the right person to portray the character who has to deal with the pesky kids. It’s also great to see Rita May (who stars in Trollied with Lorraine) starring as Nana Booth, nobody does comedy nans quite like Rita. Amazing casting choices.