Channel 4’s 8pm school drama Ackley Bridge is back for 12 brand new episodes.
Commissioned from The Forge, Ackley Bridge explores modern Britain with irreverence, wit, close to the knuckle humour, larger than life characters and big hearted stories.
Set in an academy situated in the racially divided Yorkshire town of Ackley Bridge, the series explores the ups and downs of friendships, family life and relationships of both the teachers and pupils of the college. Building upon the first series, the second series will explore some of the harder hitting issues that affect such communities up and down Britain
Adil Ray Q&A
Sadiq has made a pretty wonderful life for himself. But by the end of series one he was doing his best to destroy that, wasn’t he?
In series one he started off well intended but of course the affair with Mandy was terrible. For the affair to be revealed in front of the entire school by his daughter Alya made things much worse, but he had it coming. But he survived it and he’s back again for series two. There is some tension with Mandy as we’ll see. I always feel that with somebody like Sadiq, with the money and clout that he’s got, he could have taken over the local football club or opened up a series of restaurants but he hasn’t done that. He’s decided that what he wants is to spend his time and some of his money on this school. I think that is quite honourable. I also think that his British Asian-ness is quite a big part of his identity. He’s a pillar of the community and there’s certain expectations of him. But he has a personal life too. We don’t go into his background but I think his marriage to Farida wasn’t perhaps entirely of his own personal choosing. It may well have been something that happened through his father or via the community. That could be the reason why he has strayed away with Mandy. It doesn’t justify it and it’s no defence, but it gives some understanding. So I think he is quite complex, striding over two different communities, his Pakistani Muslim identity and then his very British life. He probably does go out for a drink with his friends, he is down the golf club, but he’s also down the mosque. That makes him quite an interesting character.
Compared to your work in Citizen Khan, is it nice to just be able to turn up and act and leave all the writing, editing and worry to someone else?
It is really nice to turn up sometimes and just do a couple of scenes or even one scene with a few lines and to go home. It’s exciting but also unnerving which is a good thing. I’ll often speak to the producers and the Execs about my character. I like to get involved but it’s nice not to have the responsibility! I really hope I can do a few more acting jobs! I am learning so much and I feel so fortunate to be able to do so.
You talked about the first series, about how much you enjoyed working in Halifax. Does that apply even more for series two?
I’ve really loved Halifax this time around. It was freezing in the winter but when the sun’s been out it’s been lovely! I’ve managed to have a day off here and there and have a little wander round. I’ve been to fantastic places like ‘The Piece Hall’ and ‘Square Chapel Arts Centre’. I actually met some of the team there who are really looking to attract more diverse audiences to the venues and asked how I can play a part and help them, which I would love to do. I think having spent six months here this series, and three months last time makes it feel like another home to me. I’d absolutely love to help the venues and do what we can to get more diverse audiences going to the theatre or enjoying the arts in these spaces and also try to find the next generation of young storytellers from these communities. I went to university just down the road in Huddersfield, so it is a place that is really quite close to my heart. I’m so glad to be back here.
How do you enjoy working with so many young people on the show?
I love it! It’s great to see them grow as actors as well. They’re all very lovely, very excitable and very professional. They really do understand the business and the fact that in the end it is work and we all have to get a job done. They’re great and bring lots of joy to set. They are always happy and smiley and it’s just fantastic to see. I think some of them are going to be and I hope grow up to be fantastic stars. I wish them luck.
Were they familiar with Citizen Khan?
Yes, they are which is just lovely. Some come up and shout Citizen Khan catchphrases like “Oh twaddi” which I find funny and embarrassing at the same time. It’s one of those lovely things which I’ll always cherish. Big thanks to them for being so cool on set. It does make you feel old at times though, I have to say.
What were you like at school? Detention or distinction?
I started off as ‘detention’. I was the guy that got thrown out of class a couple of times. I had to wait outside. But I finished off at school as ‘distinction’. I was actually deputy head boy by the time I finished. So there’s a lesson in that you can buck up your ideas. But you’ve also got to allow kids to find their way a little bit and be a little rebellious at times. It’s just growing up I think. Hopefully Ackley Bridge is like that too… It’s growing up but at its heart it’s about having fun.
Ackley Bridge returns on Tuesday 5th June at 8pm, on Channel 4