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Meet the cast of new Channel 4 drama Ackley Bridge

A host of familiar faces appear on new Channel 4 drama Ackley Bridge - see who they are here

New school drama Ackley Bridge airs tonight on Channel 4 bringing a clash of cultures to the small screen.

The drama tells the story of the lives of a largely divided white and Asian populations in fictional Ackley Bridge with the creation of a brand new academy.

There hasn’t been a drama in C4’s 8pm prime-time slot since the end of Brookside 14 years ago and so it’s easy to see why the broadcaster is pulling out all the stops to make sure it attracts as wider audience as possible.

So with this in mind, let’s check out who’s, who in the new drama’s cast?

Character Mandy Carter - Head Teacher, 36, played by Jo Joyner

Ex-Eastender’s star Jo Joyner is leading the helm of the new Ackley Bridge College as ‘working class girl made good’.

Jo Joyner said: “Mandy is hard working and has dedicated the last few years to getting this school off the ground, working closely with the school’s sponsor Sadiq. She’s possibly neglected other areas of her life, like having fun and her husband, in favour of her career. She’s strong and capable when it comes to leadership and work but can often be the complete opposite when it comes to her own personal life. I love that contradiction; it’s what makes her fully rounded”.

Missy Booth – trapped in Year 11 as she missed a year, 16, played by Poppy Lee Friar

Best known for her role in Sci-fi dram Eve - where she played the world’s first fully sentient ‘artificial person’ - her character Missy’s relationship with Nas is at the heart of the show.

Popular with the boys, and likely to get herself into trouble for her opinions, Missy has a troubled past but is a survivor.

Three years ago, Missy and Hayley were removed from her Simone’s care and placed with Nana Booth.

Missy is the glue that holds the family together as she makes sacrifices, cares to care for her elderly Nana and makes sure her kid sister Hayley has a normal life as possible.

Nasreen (Nas) Paracha – Year 12, 16, played by Amy-Leigh Hickman

Aged just 20, Amy-Leigh has starred in CBBC’s Tracy Beaker and spin-off show, The Dumping Ground.

Cast here as Nas, she is best friends with Missy. She’s academic, intelligent and has a questioning mind. Kaneez’s eldest, Nas is the apple of her mum’s eye and is destined to make something of herself. Sometimes quiet and introspective, she privately hopes to go to uni but is terrified of the debts.

Kaneez Paracha – Dinner Lady, 39, played by Sunetra Sarker

Sunetra is best known for her roles in Brookside, No Angels and Casualty. Or you may recognise her from Strictly Come Dancing.

Her latest role sees her cast as Kaneez, an intelligent, colourful and fearless single parent to Nas.

She is an eternal pragmatist making the most of what she’s got and telling other folk to do the same.

Steve Bell – Sports Science Teacher, 37, played by Paul Nicholls

Paul Nicholls (Steve Bell/Mr Carter) stars in new Channel 4 drama Ackley Bridge

Another former Walford resident Paul Nicholls is most famous for his role as Joe Wicks in the BBC soap.

His latest role sees him make a big presence at Ackley Bridge College. Well-liked by the students and the teachers, Steve is always on hand to break up a fight or settle a discussion but he’s also more than up for a kick about on the school field. Steve likes his ale, his football and his wife, though Mandy’s relentless ambition can sometimes cause arguments between the couple.

Emma Keane – English Teacher, 36, played by Liz White

Liz has stared in stage show The Woman in Black and in the period cop drama Life on Mars and was last seen on BBC drama Call the Midwife.

Her character in Ackley Bridge sees her cast as an an original and inspiring teacher who tends to make it up as she goes along. Charming and fun to be around. Emma is a natural teacher, but not a natural mum, Emma got pregnant in her first year of university and delayed her degree to give birth.

Sadiq Nawaz – School Sponsor and Head of Academy Trust. 40, played by Adil Ray

Adill became a familiar face on our screen in the BBC One comedy Citizen Khan, which he created and co-writes.

This is his first straight drama role but he admits he’d never done a sitcom beore Citizen Khan.

His character Sadiq is a big name in Ackley Bridge and he employes a good swathe of the town in his factory.

Sadiq is a consummate negotiator and charmer but with a roguish, amoral edge. He appears to be a pillar of the community and is proud to sponsor the college.

But he enjoys women’s company and his wife Farida turns a blind eye as long as no scandal reaches the family home.

Ackley Bridge airs on Channel 4 tonight at 8pm or can be seen on Catch Up after broadcast http://www.channel4.com/programmes/catchup

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