|Created by||Ayub Khan-Din|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Original language(s)||English, Urdu|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||18 (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||Halifax, West Yorkshire, England|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||The Forge|
|Original network||Channel 4|
|Picture format||16:9 1080i|
|Original release||7 June 2017 –|
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. The school is set in the fictional Yorkshire mill town of Ackley Bridge. A second series of twelve episodes was announced on 30 June 2017 broadcasting from 5 June 2018. A third series of eight episodes was confirmed on 21 August 2018 and is set to air in June 2019.
In early 2017, Channel 4 announced The ABC, a new six-part school drama. 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." St Catherine's Catholic High School in Halifax is used as Ackley Bridge College. The show was later renamed Ackley Bridge.
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." A spokesperson said "In light of the tragic events in Manchester, the first episode of forthcoming drama series Ackley Bridge is being re-edited."
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."
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||6||7 June 2017||12 July 2017|
|2||12||5 June 2018||21 August 2018|
Production and casting
The cast, main and supporting, are a mix of experienced and trained actors, as well as street cast actors.
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."
Amy-Leigh Hickman, best 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. Friar says she loves portraying Missy, who she describes as "sassy, saucy and a survivor." Television newcomers Nazmeen Kausar Hussain and Esa Ashraf play Razia and Saleem Paracha, Kaneez's two other children.
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." 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." 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." 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. Students from Trinity Academy, North Halifax Grammar School, The Crossley Heath School and Calderdale College feature in the series.
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." 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."
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."
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. Viewers also praised scenes of Lila Sharif, played by Anneika Rose, coming out as lesbian to her students.
Awards and nominations
|2017||Promax Awards||Best Social or Digital Campaign||George Ormond||Won|
|2018||Irish Film and Television Academy||Best Script||Malcom Campbell||Nominated|
|Best Director||Robert Quinn||Nominated|
|Royal Television Society||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||Pending|
- "Ackley Bridge". The Forge Entertainment. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
- on YouTube
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- "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.
- "Interview with Amy Leigh Hickman who plays Nas Paracha". Channel 4. 24 May 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
- Hughes, Jonathon (2017). "Ackley Bridge: everything you need to know about Channel 4's new school drama". Radio Times. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
- "Ackley Bridge Interview with Arsher Ali who plays Sami Qureshi". Bradford Zone. 2 June 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
- 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.
- "Performing Arts Success" (PDF). Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College. 2017. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
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- 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.
- Wollaston, Sam (8 June 2017). "Ackley Bridge review – Waterloo Road meets Shameless". Telegraph. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
- 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.