Ackley Bridge

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Ackley Bridge
Ackley Bridge Title Card.jpg
Created byAyub Khan-Din
Kevin Erlis
Malcolm Campbell
StarringCurrent and former cast
Composer(s)Tim Phillips
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series3
No. of episodes19 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Malcolm Campbell
  • George Faber
  • George Ormond
  • Ayub Khan-Din
Producer(s)Alexander Lamb
Production location(s)Halifax, West Yorkshire, England
  • Anna Valdez-Hanks
  • Sergio Delgado
  • Anthony Combes
  • Vicky Tooms
  • Dan Crinnion
  • David Stark
  • David I'Anson
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)The Forge[3]
Original networkChannel 4
Picture format16:9 1080i
Audio formatStereo
Original release7 June 2017 (2017-06-07) –

Ackley Bridge is a British television drama series set in a multicultural academy school of the same name, broadcast on Channel 4 from 7 June 2017.[4] The school is set in the fictional Yorkshire mill town of Ackley Bridge.[5] A second series of twelve episodes was announced on 30 June 2017, broadcasting from 5 June 2018.[6][7] A third series of eight episodes was confirmed on 21 August 2018, and began airing on 18 June 2019.[8][9]


In early 2017, Channel 4 announced The ABC, a new six-part school drama.[5] The series follows the merger of two schools in a segregated British and Pakistani community due to budget cuts, exploring "the turbulent school experience, covering the challenges of prejudice and cultural issues in the school environment, as well as the humour, relationships and conflict had by the pupils, teachers and parents."[10][11][12] St Catherine's Catholic High School in Halifax is used as Ackley Bridge College.[13] The show was later renamed Ackley Bridge.[14]

Following the Manchester Arena bombing, the first episode was re-edited prior to airing as there were scenes showing "a troubled student strap a fake bomb to himself in order to disrupt the merging of a predominantly white and a predominantly Asian school."[15] A spokesperson said "In light of the tragic events in Manchester, the first episode of forthcoming drama series Ackley Bridge is being re-edited."[15]

Ahead of the first series premiere, additional content from the show was shared on Snapchat for "high school age characters to tell their stories in the way young people are" to introduce the characters. Further episodes will "be subsidised with additional videos that will help build the world outside of the allocated TV broadcast."[16]

Cast and characters[edit]


SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
167 June 2017 (2017-06-07)12 July 2017 (2017-07-12)
2125 June 2018 (2018-06-05)21 August 2018 (2018-08-21)
3818 June 2019 (2019-06-18)TBA

Production and casting[edit]

The cast, main and supporting, are a mix of experienced and trained actors, as well as street cast actors.[17]

Former EastEnders actors Jo Joyner and Paul Nicholls received the parts of married couple Mandy Carter, the headteacher of Ackley Bridge College and Steve Bell, a PE teacher. Joyner describes Mandy as "career driven", who has "worked so hard over the years to get to the level she's at. Joyner adds she likes the fact her character is not interested in having children. Despite her character being "organised and driven in her business life [...] she’s not at all organised or in control at home."[18]

Amy-Leigh Hickman, known for playing Carmen Howle in Tracy Beaker Returns and The Dumping Ground, plays Nasreen Paracha, daughter of Kaneez, who she describes as a "quieter and tamer" student, as well as "intelligent", but "ballsy." She felt comfortable acting scenes with Poppy Lee Friar, best known for playing Eve in Eve, who plays best friend Missy, due to having a friendship in real life.[19] Friar says she loves portraying Missy, who she describes as "sassy, saucy and a survivor."[20] Television newcomers Nazmeen Kausar Hussain and Esa Ashraf play Razia and Saleem Paracha, Kaneez's two other children.[21]

Maariah Hussain and Sam Bottomley, both students at Yorkshire School of Acting in Bradford, were cast as Alya Nawaz and Jordan Wilson respectively. Hussain described her character as "super intelligent, fiercely righteous, and a bit of a mean girl", who is also "insecure as any teenage girl" but "has ambitions to run her own business, like her father, but struggles to make him see she's capable of it."[22] Jordan is billed as "badly behaved and not fazed by getting into trouble", however "he's bright and a talented artist, but thinks school is pointless."[22] Matt Zina, principal of Hussain and Bottomley's acting school said Ackley Bridge is Hussain's first role and "she has taken to it like a duck to water. She has loved being part of a major TV series and was excited to be working with some of the big-name actors involved" and he called Bottomley an "exciting young actor."[22] Cody Ryan got the part of Hayley Booth through an acting workshop at her school, Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College, which was run by Beverley Keogh casting agency.[23] Students from Trinity Academy, North Halifax Grammar School, The Crossley Heath School and Calderdale College feature in the series.[24]

In the second series, Tony Jayawardena was cast as Rashid Hyatt, a science teacher at Ackley Bridge College, and a love interest of Kaneez.[25] Adam Fielding appeared as Aaron Turner, the half-brother of Nasreen, as well as Jay Saighal in the role of Javid Shah, the short-lived deputy head.[26] Megan Parkinson was then cast in the role of Sam Murgatroyd, a love interest of Nasreen.[27] Vicky Entwistle and Kimberley Walsh also guest starred in the second series, as Sandra Turner and Claire Butterworth, respectively.[28]

For the third series, several new roles were cast. In January 2019, Robert James-Collier was cast in the role of Martin Evershed, the new deputy headteacher, and Charlie Hardwick was cast as Sue Carp, the new director of behaviour.[29][30] Later that year, Hareet Deol was cast as Hassan Hussein, a PE teacher at Ackley Bridge College. Natalie Gavin was then cast as Nadine Murgatroyd, the mother of Sam Murgatroyd, and George Potts was cast in the role of Ken Weaver, Mandy's new boss from The Valley Trust.[31][32] Phoebe Tuffs-Berry also began appearing as Ruhksana, a transfer student from The Valley Trust.[31]


Since the show's announcement, Ackley Bridge has been compared to BBC's long-running school drama, Waterloo Road, with Duncan Lindsay from Metro opining that "Channel 4 have been crying out for a solid drama to fit into the early night slot" and that there has been a lack of a "solid school based drama", stating that Ackley Bridge "follows the trials and tribulations of an academy which has merged two different communities together."[33] The series has also been compared to BBC's other long-running school drama series, Grange Hill, as Michael Hogan from The Guardian stated "it could be described as Grange Hill with a mobile phone and a northern accent."[34]

Sam Wollaston from The Guardian said the character of Jordan Wilson, played by Sam Bottomley, "is the best character at Ackley Bridge – smart, offensive to everyone, the school wind-up merchant, who also represents a pessimistic but realistic view that such attempts at integration are futile." He added that the "teachers aren’t a whole lot better than they kids" due to the situations, such as the love triangle between Mandy Carter, Steve Bell and Sadiq Nawaz, played by Jo Joyner, Paul Nicholls and Adil Ray respectively and Steve hitting Jordan, but said it "was a teeny bit justified." He described Liz White's character, Emma Keane, as "a hippy-dippy flippy-floppy backpacker." The show has also been thought of as a Waterloo Road and Shameless mix and the social media aspect is seen as "savvy." He also added that the show raised questions "about whether total integration is possible, even necessary, both in school and out of school. That side of things is handled carefully and sensitively. Real issues aren’t avoided, cultural differences aren’t denied; at the same time, obvious and boring stereotypes are avoided. If that makes it sound worthy, it really isn’t. It’s pleasingly loud and mischievous. Well, it’s school, of course it is. As well as boobs, Ackley Bridge has balls. And a heart."[35]

Poppy Lee Friar and Cody Ryan received praise from viewers in the fourth episode of series one, where the episode revolved around Missy dealing with the death of Julia Booth, played by Rita May, which leads to Hayley being placed in care.[36] Viewers also praised scenes of Lila Sharif, played by Anneika Rose, coming out as lesbian to her students.[36]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2017 Promax Awards Best Social or Digital Campaign George Ormond Won
2018 Irish Film & Television Academy Best Script Malcom Campbell Nominated
Best Director Robert Quinn Nominated
Royal Television Society Yorkshire Best Music Tim Phillips Won
Best Actor Poppy Lee Friar Won
Best Director Penny Woolcock Won
Best Drama Ackley Bridge Won
2019 Diva Awards Storyline of the Year Ackley Bridge Nominated
Royal Television Society Yorkshire Best Drama Ackley Bridge Won
Original Digital Content Ackley Bridge Snapchat stories Won
Use of Music or Sound Tim Phillips Nominated
TV Choice Awards Best Drama Series Ackley Bridge Pending


  1. ^ Seddon, Dan (12 May 2018). "Channel 4 shares a first look at comedy Ackley Bridge's second season". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  2. ^ Hughes, Sarah (4 June 2017). "'It's about race and class, but it's funny, not grim': Channel 4's new take on school drama". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Ackley Bridge". The Forge Entertainment. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  4. ^ Ackley Bridge New Drama Starts Wednesday 7th June, 8pm on YouTube
  5. ^ a b "Casting announced on C4's new 8pm drama The ABC". Channel 4. 23 February 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  6. ^ Lindsay, Duncan (30 June 2017). "Channel 4 hands school drama Ackley Bridge a second series which is doubled in length". Metro. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  7. ^ Bley Griffiths, Eleanor (23 May 2018). "Exclusive Ackley Bridge trailer reveals major drama coming in series two". Radio Times. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  8. ^ Houghton, Rianne (21 August 2018). "Channel 4 confirms a third series of Ackley Bridge after emotional final episode". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  9. ^ Gavin, Natalie (4 June 2019). "#AckleyBridge #channel4 18th June get ready !!! It's a treat". @nataliegavin. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  10. ^ Lamacraft, Tess (23 February 2017). "Jo Joyner to play headteacher in new Channel 4 drama The ABC". What's On TV?. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  11. ^ Holma, Kate (23 February 2017). "Channel 4 releases first look at drama The ABC". Royal Television Society. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  12. ^ Pearce, Tilly (22 May 2017). "BRIDGE IN TROUBLED WATERS When does Ackley Bridge start on Channel 4 and who is in the cast of the school drama with EastEnders' Jo Joyner?". The Sun. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  13. ^ "Former Halifax high school transformed for new TV drama". Halifax Courier. 3 February 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  14. ^ Dowell, Ben (11 May 2017). "An exclusive first look at the trailer for new Channel 4 school drama Ackley Bridge". Radio Times. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  15. ^ a b Lindsay, Duncan (25 May 2017). "Channel 4 school drama Ackley Bridge cuts bomb hoax scene in the wake of Manchester terror attack". Metro. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  16. ^ McCarthy, John (31 May 2017). "Channel 4 taps Snapchat to tell the story of Ackley Bridge students". The Drum. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  17. ^ Duncan, Amy (6 June 2017). "Jo Joyner and Sunetra Sarker on how Channel 4 drama Ackley Bridge is very timely following London terror attack". Metro. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  18. ^ "Ackley Bridge star Jo Joyner talks playing a northerner and how she feels about on-screen husband Paul Nicholls". Now Magazine. 4 June 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  19. ^ "Interview with Amy Leigh Hickman who plays Nas Paracha". Channel 4. 24 May 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  20. ^ Hughes, Jonathon (2017). "Ackley Bridge: everything you need to know about Channel 4's new school drama". Radio Times. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Ackley Bridge Interview with Arsher Ali who plays Sami Qureshi". Bradford Zone. 2 June 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  22. ^ a b c Clayton, Emma (12 June 2017). "Bradford teenage actors Maariah Hussain and Sam Bottomley go back to school in new TV drama Ackley Bridge". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  23. ^ "Performing Arts Success" (PDF). Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College. 2017. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  24. ^ Ankers, Wayne (7 June 2017). "Where is new TV drama Ackley Bridge set?". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  25. ^ "Here is what to expect from the next episode of Channel 4's Ackley Bridge". Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  26. ^ "Channel 4's Ackley Bridge is back with another round of school drama, racial tensions and more life lessons". Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  27. ^ "Ackley Bridge reveals Nasreen's new love but there's a devastating twist". Metro. 10 July 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  28. ^ "Where is Ackley Bridge filmed? The Yorkshire locations used in the Channel 4 drama". Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  29. ^ "Robert James-Collier & Charlie Hardwick join Ackley Bridge | Channel 4". Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  30. ^ Wilson, Victoria (11 June 2019). "Corrie legend Rob James-Collier reveals ALL about his new role as deputy headteacher in Ackley Bridge". What' s on TV. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  31. ^ a b "When is Ackley Bridge back on TV? Who's in it and what's going to happen?". Radio Times. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  32. ^ "Ackley Bridge series 3: All you need to know". Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  33. ^ Lindsay, Duncan (24 May 2017). "Ex EastEnders star Jo Joyner reveals school drama Ackley Bridge gossip and is excited to be working with best friend Sunetra Sarker again". Metro. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  34. ^ Hogan, Michael (7 June 2017). "Ackley Bridge episode one has promise but is yet to make the grade: review". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  35. ^ Wollaston, Sam (8 June 2017). "Ackley Bridge review – Waterloo Road meets Shameless". Telegraph. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  36. ^ a b Hegarty, Tasha (28 June 2017). "Ackley Bridge viewers left in tears after Missy's nan dies and her sister gets taken into care". Metro. Retrieved 13 July 2017.

External links[edit]