Good news, people. There's not long to go now until secondary school drama Ackley Bridge Series 2 starts. While the drama is set in a fictional Yorkshire town, it takes inspiration from the not altogether uncommon situation of two secondary schools merging due to budget cuts in the local community. So far so ordinary. Except, in Ackley Bridge, the two schools had previously catered to different sides of the deeply divided town, with the pupils of one school predominantly Asian and the other, predominantly white. This premise gave the writers plenty of timely and important material to work with, with some members of the different communities struggling to accept one another, and others acting like they'd never known any different.
Series 1 focused on Missy and Nas, who were best friends even before their schools were combined. Fast forward a year and the new episodes look set to do the same, as the trailer shows the pair laughing, chatting, and eating chips with curry sauce while lounging on a sofa on top of a skip (you'll just have to watch it to get the full sense of it). But what else can you look forward to in Ackley Bridge Series 2? Well just put it this way, a lot. Here's everything you need to know.
When Does It Start?
The show kicks off on Tuesday June 5, with Channel 4 dropping the above trailer to keep us interested. With an air time of 8 p.m., we can all breath a collective sigh of relief that it doesn't clash with Love Island.
Are There Any Big Changes?
When the programme first arrived on screens in June 2017, the show was inevitably compared to Waterloo Road. Sure, they have their similarities; both are set in schools, and both focus on the north of England. But, with ambitious storylines taking on multiculturalism, youth alienation, and coming out to a classroom of your schoolmates, Ackley Bridge soon proved it didn't intend to follow in the footsteps of anyone's PE plimsolls. In fact, the fresh take on the reality of secondary school life proved so popular among viewers that Channel 4 is making Series 2 way longer than the original. Yes, that’s right, fans can enjoy twice as many instalments as last time round, with 12 episodes instead of six. Whoop.
Who's In The Cast?
As well as Poppy Lee Friar as Missy and Amy-Leigh Hickman as Nas, a new term will see the return of most of the stand-out characters from the first run. Spotted in the trailer, former Eastenders actress Jo Joyner will be back as no-nonsense headteacher Mandy Carter, who will no doubt still be wrangling with her Series 1 love interest Sadiq Nawaz (Adil Ray).
Elsewhere, Paul Nicholls will return as Steve Bell, Sunetra Sarker will reprise her role as Nas' mum Kaneez Paracha, and Liz White will be back as Emma Keane. Teaser pics ahead of Ackley Bridge's return suggest Nas and Missy's girl gang will be out in force too, with Nazmeen Kauser returning as Razia and Cody Ryan back as Missy's little sister Hayley.
It looks like their male counterparts will be back too. As revealed in preview images from the new series, Jordan, who was on the brink of expulsion last time around, will once again played by Samuel Bottomley, and his pals Cory (Sam Retford), Naveed (Gurjeet Singh), and Riz (Nohail Mohammed) will all be returning as well.
Will There Be Any Newcomers?
Ackley Bridge is getting a fresh intake of characters to stir things up at school — and former Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh is one of them. She is joining the cast as netball coach Clare, who just so happens to be the ex-girlfriend of PE teacher Steve (Nicholls). According to Walsh, fans can expect Clare to get on the wrong side of Steve's estranged wife Mandy pretty quickly. "She's quite different to other characters I’ve played in the past," the singer teased in a press release. "She is sassy and strong and comes to blows a few times with Mandy, which was really fun to play."
Meanwhile, Coronation Street actress Vicky Entwistle is joining the cast too. She is going to play Sandra Turner — Nas' dad's secret wife. But what will her mum Kaneez (Sunetra Sarker) have to say about that bombshell when she finds out?
Where Can I Watch Series 1?
If you want to catch up or just fancy watching the awesomeness that was the first series all over again, all of the episodes from the first run can be streamed via Channel 4 On Demand.
So there you have it. You're now all clued up on Series 2 of Ackley Bridge. The only thing left to do is to wait and actually watch it. That, or find someone at Channel 4 to bribe into releasing those episodes a little earlier...