Waterloo Road

7:30pm Wednesday 4 May on BBC ONE

Alarm bells are ringing for Karen (Amanda Burton) as a new term begins at Waterloo Road, with Robson Green joining the cast as new site manager Rob Scotcher

8.00pm Wednesday 2 February on BBC ONE

A controversial scheme to separate the boys and girls at the Rochdale comprehensive school kicks off a new term at Waterloo Road

Original Silent Witness star Amanda Burton joins the cast of Waterloo Road as new head teacher Karen Fisher this autumn on BBC One, when the school drama returns for a new series.

An instantly dynamic and ambitious presence, Karen is determined to bring her unique vision to the school and make it a safe, vibrant place to learn. But Karen’s steely exterior masks a deeper fragility as she and her family wrestle with the aftermath of a recent tragedy.

At home Karen has to cope with a cheating husband, Charlie (Ian Puleston Davies), a rebellious daughter, Jess (Linzey Cocker), and bulimic son Harry (Ceallach Spellman). Karen will have plenty of personal traumas to contend with as she battles her first term at Waterloo Road and attempts to keep her home life and school life separate.

Never one to shirk from a challenge, Karen has amassed a mix of personalities in the staffroom. Old regulars Grantly (Philip Martin Brown), Ruby (Elizabeth Berrington) and Tom (Jason Done) are joined by sexy, opinionated Spanish teacher Cesca (Karen David), principled home-school advocate Marcus (Wil Johnson) and Karen’s own husband Charlie.

Also joining Karen’s team is former pupil Janeece (Chelsee Healey) as school secretary – and it’s very much a case of opposites attract as her warm, slightly dizzy approach collides with Karen’s no-nonsense efficiency.

This term, Karen wants every staff member to pull their weight and it’s down to ever-loyal Deputy Head Chris (Will Ash) to keep rebellion to a minimum.

Waterloo Road is a Shed Production for BBC Scotland.

The executive producers for Shed Productions are Sharon Hughff and Lis Steele and the executive producer for the BBC is Gaynor Holmes.

The series has been commissioned by Jay Hunt, Controller BBC One and Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning.

8.00pm Wednesday 1 September on BBC ONE

Amanda Burton joins the cast as Karen Fisher, a dynamic new head teacher who is determined to turn the school into a safe and vibrant place to learn, as Waterloo Road opens its doors for a new term (New Tricks, starring Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong, James Bolam and Dennis Waterman, also returns this week)

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Original Silent Witness star Amanda Burton returns to BBC One to take a lead role in the popular drama series Waterloo Road.

Amanda joins the cast of Waterloo Road as Head Teacher Karen Fisher, and speaking about her new role she says: “I’m very excited to join Waterloo Road which is such a well-known and well-loved series. I can’t wait to get started on the programme and am very much looking forward to my first day on set with the cast and crew.”

Amanda begins filming on location in Rochdale in November and will make her first appearance in the drama next year.

Fans of Waterloo Road will be able to catch up with the goings on in the troubled comprehensive much sooner however, when the new series, starring reigning Strictly Come Dancing Champion Tom Chambers, returns to BBC One on Wednesday 28 October.

Head of Independent Drama for BBC Scotland, Anne Mensah, says: “Amanda is an actress of exceptional quality and enormous popularity with the audience. We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming her to Waterloo Road. We have a fantastic cast and brilliant new stories to tell as the programme continues to go from strength to strength.”

Waterloo Road is a Shed Production for BBC Scotland.

It’s all change at Waterloo Road. The school has been merged with local private school John Fosters after it was forced to close when wealthy parents could no longer afford the fees.

As a result around a hundred new pupils are enrolled at Waterloo Road and neither the “posh” John Fosters pupils nor the “scuzzy” Waterloo Road kids are happy about it.

The playground divisions are echoed in the staffroom as many of the old John Fosters team have been ushered in to ensure the smooth transition, much to the annoyance of the existing staff.

Among them are Christopher Mead, an ex-city boy turned science teacher and now the Deputy Head; Ruby Fry, the food technology teacher who is every bit as snobby as her pupils; and a new Head of Languages, Jo Lipsett, whose enthusiasm and competence spells trouble for the hapless Steph.

The biggest rivalry, however, seems to be between Rachel Mason and Executive Head Max Tyler, played by Tom Chambers.

When lessons are disrupted by a fight between Michaela White and new girl Lindsay James, the tensions soon engulf the whole school, with both sets of pupils waging war on the playground.

Rachel manages to calm the situation down but she has some devasting news for Lindsay and her little sister, Em. Their father is dead and their mother, Marion, has confessed to his murder.

Max then drops his own bombshell, after today’s events there is no way he is leaving Rachel in charge and he informs her that he intends to be permanently based at the school.

Let the battle commence!

Reigning Strictly Come Dancing Champion and former Holby City Star Tom Chambers joins the cast of Waterloo Road as Executive Head, Max Tyler.

Max has been brought in to oversee the merger of Waterloo Road and John Fosters, a local private school, and he has some very strong ideas on how the new-look school is going to operate.

Speaking about the role, Tom says: “Max is on a mission – to stamp out disobedience and improve academic results. He is passionate and explosive when it comes to the control and discipline that he desires.

“His desires also tend to lead him towards the female staff where he either ends up manipulating them or threatening them to his advantage.

He wants to be at the top of an empire, the Max Tyler Empire.”

Right from the word go there is a strong connection between strict disciplinarian Max and Head of Pastoral Care Kim Campbell, played by Angela Griffin. So was it a case of opposites attract?

“Max instantly saw Kim as an attractive woman with a strong personality within the school,” says Tom. “He had instant chemistry and desire for her as well as knowing that if he quickly got her on his side as an ally, he could use her to his advantage when making changes within the school’s policies.

“As for me personally, it was brilliant working with Angela, she’s a ball of energy with an inspiring approach to her work. She has a wickedly funny sense of humour and we had a lot of fun on set.

” She also has the cutest kids, which are a testament to her.

Despite Tom’s pedigree in performing arts, he says that if he was a teacher himself, he would prefer to spend his time in the school laboratories.

“I think I would like to teach science. I was never that interested at school but now I find science and how things react with each other simply fascinating. The journey that science has made since time began is the reason we are able to do what we can today.”

But would Tom subscribe more to Max’s firm approach or Waterloo Road’s existing Head Teacher Rachel’s (played by Eva Pope) more “softly, softly” attitude?

“This question is like the eternal question!” he says. “What is best? Which is right or wrong? I would have to say that as no two people are the same, no single approach can be the same. In other words: a bit of both.

” But I think if I was a headmaster, I’d be a complete pushover, hanging out with the kids and playing pranks on the other teachers.”

True to form, Tom did have a reputation on set for being a bit of a prankster, so how did he get on with the rest of cast, in particular the younger members whom his character was supposed to be bossing around?

“I was quite scared at first, turning up to work on the first day, not knowing anyone and having to pretend to be a headmaster ruling all these kids!

“But I had nothing to worry about – they were all totally unlike their characters I’m glad to say and just very good at acting! Not only were they natural on camera, which I learnt a great deal from, but all very open and friendly with a very cheeky sense of fun.

“We did giggle a lot off camera which would often involve impressions of silly walks and voices. Tachia (who plays Bolton Smilie) was the master of vocal poetry!”

The series is filmed in Rochdale, which meant Tom had to relocate for three months to Manchester. He enjoyed his time in the city but wasn’t so sure about the infamous Manchester weather.

“Manchester is a great city – I loved it there. Full of character, buzzing and vibrant. But it’s true when they say that it rains every day! It’s the wrong side of the Pennines, and filming was always being interrupted because of impromptu downpours!”

Now living in London with his wife, Clare, Tom was originally brought up in Derbyshire and still thinks himself of a country boy.

“I am definitely more of a country than city boy,” he says. ” I love going back home, putting wellies on and going for long walks or bike riding down steep hills.

“That said, London is the gateway to art and you’ve got all the theatres on your door step so I try and do both as much as possible, and some views along the Thames are stunning.”

Although being hugely popular as Sam Strachan in Holby City, it was winning last year’s Strictly Come Dancing, with dance partner Camilla Dallerup, that made Tom a household name, so what advice does he have for this year’s contestants?

“Enjoy every minute of it because you never know when it’s going to end. Just take each week as it comes. But, above all, get used to all the sequins, hairspray and spray tan because it takes over your life!”

Camilla and Tom made a great team last year, so have they managed to keep in touch?

“We’re both very busy and on the move so it’s hard to meet up but often text each other to catch up,” says Tom. “She’s doing a lot of work behind the scenes on Strictly this year as she is branching out into presenting as another direction she’d like to pursue in her career and she’s also very busy planning her wedding!”

And will he be watching this year or has he had enough sequins and Lycra to last him a lifetime?

“Of course! I love dancing anyway so I’ll be watching every step of the way, but although this year I’m able to watch Strictly from the comfort of my own sofa, I think I’ll be just as nervous for the contestants because I now know that it is literally one of the most terrifying things you can attempt to do in front of a live audience of millions watching your every move and stumble!”

There are new faces both in the staff room and in the playground as school drama Waterloo Road returns to BBC One.

Strictly Coming Dancing winner and Holby City star Tom Chambers joins the cast as Max Tyler, a new Executive Head brought in to oversee a merger between Waterloo Road and local private school John Fosters.

Will Ash (Dr Who, Lilies, Sold, Burn It) is Christopher Mead, the new Deputy Head, with Sarah Jane Potts (Casualty, Sugar Rush, Bodies) as Jo Lipsett, the new Head of French. Elizabeth Berrington (Drop Dead Gorgeous, Apparitions, Moving Wallpaper) is Ruby Fry, food technology teacher and domestic goddess, who tries to teach the pupils some manners.

Vinette Robinson (Hope Springs, The Passion) also joins the teaching staff as Helen Hopewell, a newly qualified teacher who soon finds out that Waterloo Road is nothing like what she was taught during teacher training.

In the classroom tensions are raised by Lindsay James, a troubled teenager played Jenna Louise Coleman (Emmerdale), who enters into a battle for power with Michaela White for supremacy in the playground.

The new series also sees a welcome return for Waterloo Road regulars Eva Pope, Jason Done, Denise Welch, Angela Griffin, Philip Martin Brown, Zarrah Abrahams, Lucy Dixon and Dean Smith.

Waterloo Road is a Shed Production for BBC Scotland. The Executive Producer is Sharon Hughff and the Executive Producer for the BBC is Gaynor Holmes. The series has been commissioned by Ben Stephenson,Controller BBC Drama Commissioning.

Philip Ryan, new character, played by Dean Smith

An awkward fantasist, despite his best efforts, Philip (15) has always had trouble fitting in socially. Constantly shifting schools has resulted in Philip being a needy and over-eager adolescent. His extroverted, scatty mum (Melissa) has never really paid him any attention and over-compensated by being excessively liberal and “matey”. Convinced he’s happy to be “the outsider”, it is obvious that Philip wants nothing more than the acceptance and approval of his peers. Easily influenced Philip is keen to hang with the cool kids and be part of the gang, but he’s clueless around women.

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