Fan of Waterloo Road? Do NOT miss tonight’s new school drama Ackley Bridge

This is your Wednesday night appointment television

Imagine Waterloo Road blended with Channel 4 epics Teachers and Shameless – with a small side order of Jimmy McGovern-style social conscience…

Welcome to Ackley Bridge, your next appointment television drama, which is packed with familiar faces.

Former EastEnders actress Jo Joyner heads the cast as headteacher Mandy Carter.

She is placed in charge of running Ackley Bridge academy – which has been formed from the merger of two local schools in the Yorkshire town of the same name.

Immediately there are tensions as one of the schools was predominantly white, while the other was mostly comprised of Asian pupils.

They must learn a different way of doing things.

Don’t worry that it’s all going to be ‘Gritty BAFTA’ stuff though, the show promises to “explore the chaos, humour, camaraderie, pride, prejudice, conflict, romance and jealousies that define the school experience for teachers, pupils and parents alike”.

Mandy’s husband Steve Bell is a PE teacher at the school (and is played by perennial eye candy Paul Nicholls).

Jo says of the role: “It was nice to have a woman at the head of the school and she is completely career driven.

“She has worked so hard to lead this new venture that she has neglected her home life.

“She is determined, organised and possibly a little bit fierce at work but at home and relationship life is less in her control.

“You see that contradiction in a lot of great women – and I like that about her.”

The popular actress is reunited with pal Sunetra Sarker for the show, who she previously worked with on another Channel 4 classic drama, No Angels.

Sunetra plays mum and dinner lady Kaneeza Paracha.

Amy-Leigh Hickman – who recently played Linzi, the under-age schoolgirl that got Jay into trouble in EastEnders – stars as school pupil Nazreen.

Trust us, you won’t want to miss it.