Ackley Bridge: Who's who in Channel 4's latest drama

Ackley Bridge: Who's who in Channel 4's latest drama

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(Credit: Matt Squire/Channel 4)

New Channel 4 school drama Ackley Bridge (formerly known as The ABC) follows everyday life at a new academy called Ackley Bridge College, newly formed from two comprehensive schools.

The series explores the challenging school experience, including the conflicting cultural issues in the school environment among its pupils, teachers and parents. 

Get to know some of the characters in the new series. Ackley Bridge starts on Wednesday 7 June at 8pm on Channel 4.

Kaneez Paracha, played by Sunetra Sarker

Kaneez Paracha, played by Sunetra Sarker (Casualty), works as a dinner lady at the college. Pakistani-born Kaneez came to Ackley Bridge when she was 16 to marry her husband. However, she has raised her family, including daughter Nasreen, almost single-handedly as her unreliable husband works away for months on end. She's opinionated and never shies away from an argument. 


Nasreen (Nas) Paracha, played by Amy-Leigh Hickman

Nas, played by Amy-Leigh Hickman (Eastenders), is Kaneez's eldest daughter. She’s academic, intelligent and is determined to make something of herself. She is a respectable girl in the community but enjoys going out with her best friend Missy.


Razia Paracha, played by Nazmeen Kauser

Kaneez’s second daughter Razia is bright, opinionated and keen to learn. However sometimes her personality can be a bit abrasive. She’s confident, but it’s all a front, as she decides who she is and what she wants to be in the future.


Missy Booth, played by Poppy Lee Friar

Missy Booth, played by Poppy Lee Friar (Mr Selfridge), is 16 years old and trapped in year 11 as she had missed a year of school. She's a strong character, and works hard to keep her family together despite interruptions from her troubled mum. Booth and her sister were removed from their mum's care by Social Services and placed with their elderly nan. Missy is full of potential, but her toughness and opinionated nature means that she often gets herself into a lot of trouble. 


Nana Booth, played by Rita May

Grandmother to Missy and her younger sister, Nana has banned her granddaughters' destructive mother from the house. Nana has been living on her street for years but she's fed up of her Asian neighbours and still believes that one day they’ll go back to Pakistan. She only leaves her house once a week to get her money from the Post Office. 


Mandy Carter, played by Jo Joyner

Mandy Carter, played by Jo Joyner (Eastenders), is the head teacher at Ackley Bridge and swears by the power of education. Mandy is incredibly ambitious, and has been promoted quickly through her career. That sometimes means she's out of her depth, but she covers her insecurities with enthusiasm. Mandy is married to sports science teacher Steve (Paul Nicholls), but her career goals mean that their relationship sometimes takes a backseat. 


Steve Bell, played by Paul Nicholls

Steve Bell, played by Paul Nicholls (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason), is a sports science teacher and also Mandy's husband. He is a charismatic ‘man’s man’, and has 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. He isn’t a career teacher like his headteacher wife, but he does have a vocation and is particularly good at working with kids, especially those from challenging backgrounds.


Emma Keane, played by Liz White

Emma Keane, played by Liz White (Life On Mars), is an English teacher at Ackley Bridge. She is funny, charming and great to be around, and very opinionated. Keane is an authority figure who has issues with authority. After getting pregnant in her first year of university, Emma delayed her degree to give birth. Now her daughter Chloe lives with her dad, and only see her mum for one weekend a month and half the school holidays. While Emma loves her daughter, she also loves having her own freedom.


Samir Qureshi, played by Arsher Ali


Samir Qureshi, played by Arsher Ali (left) and Emma Keane (right)

Samir Qureshi, played by Arsher Ali (The Missing), is the community liaison officer at Ackley Bridge. He can appear serious but deep down he has a sharp sense of humour and an easy charm. He’s hardworking and makes an effort to engage with the pupils he supports on their level. He and Emma (above) were once an item before university and they are shocked and surprised to see one another in the workplace.


Sadiq Nawaz, played by Adil Ray

Sadiq Nawaz, played by Adil Ray (Citizen Khan), is a school sponsor and Head of Academy Trust at Ackley. Nawaz has grafted for everything he’s got and is proud of what he’s achieved. He appears to be a pillar of the community, but he has an unpleasant side. He enjoys other women’s company which his wife Farida turns a blind eye to as long as no scandal reaches the family home. 


Alya Nawaz, played by Maariah Hussain, and Riz Nawaz, played by Nohail Mohammed​


Alya Nawaz, played by Maariah Hussain (left) and her twin brother Riz Nawaz, played by Nohail Mohammed​

Future head girl Alya could be said to be a bit of an academic snob; she's very intelligent but she can be judgemental. However underneath that facade, she's a normal girl with dreams of taking over her father's business one day.

Riz Nawaz is Sadiq’s son and Alya's twin brother; he's sporty and has a real presence amongst his peers. Riz is a loyal person and feels personal integrity is very important. He’s a good footballer and is a potential poster pupil for the school, much like his sister Alya.

All images are by Matt Squire/Channel 4 unless stated otherwise.

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New Channel 4 school drama Ackley Bridge (formerly known as The ABC) follows everyday life at a new academy called Ackley Bridge College, newly formed from two comprehensive schools.