Ackley Bridge

Our Friend in Yorkshire: Lisa Holdsworth

Lisa Holdsworth (credit: The Haworth Agency)

If you look at the schedules, it would be reasonable to assume that everyone in Yorkshire goes about their day-to-day life followed by a camera crew. It seems we have every profession covered, including vets, farmers, midwives, shepherdesses, auctioneers and airport workers.

In addition, Yorkshire continues to inspire writers like me to write shows such as Gentleman Jack, Ackley Bridge, Hullraisers, Happy Valley and, of course, Emmerdale, which recently celebrated 50 years of being filmed in the region.

School’s in for summer with a new series of Ackley Bridge

Laila Zaidi plays Asma Farooqi, a new teacher who, she explains, has been “suffocated by the pressures and the stress of living in London”, and has swapped law for teaching. “I’ve been there – it can be a daunting, overwhelming and a very expensive place to live,” added the Newcastle-raised actor. 

Ackley Bridge, she notes approvingly, “shows two communities – you’ve got the traditional Muslim Pakistani community and the white working class, and it shows how they come together through the conduit of school.  

Ackley Bridge - series five preview and Q&A | RTS Yorkshire

Channel 4 and RTS Yorkshire hold an exclusive virtual Q&A with the cast and creatives of award-winning high school drama, Ackley Bridge, ahead of its fifth series.


Laila Zaidi, who plays Asma Farooqi

Megan Morgan, who plays Marina

Yasmin Al-Khudhairi, who plays Fizza

Producer Jade Taylor from The Forge

Caroline Hollick, Head of Channel 4 Drama

Chair: Writer, Kamal Kaan

Young adult TV goes mainstream

Sex Education (Credit: Netflix)

On the day before Netflix released the first series of Sex Education, Jamie Campbell, creative director of the producer, Eleven Film, recommen­ded the series to his friend’s 18-year-old daughter. As a high-school drama about the sexual misadventures of teenagers, Campbell assumed Sex Education would resonate with her. She agreed to call the next day to share her thoughts, but when she did, she said she hadn’t watched it.

Who’s who in Ackley Bridge?

Fan favourites Nas (Amy-Leigh Hickman) and Missy (Poppy Lee Friar) were among those who left at the end of the last series, but there are plenty of pupils joining the returning cast to fill the gaps.

Among the newcomers are Kayla Azfal (Robyn Cara) and Fizza Akhtar (Yasmin Al Khudhairi), loyal best friends but both lovestruck by new boy Johnny Cooper (Ryan Dean).

Given the two-year hiatus and all the new faces, we thought viewers new and old could do with a little refresher course. Find out who's who in Ackley Bridge.

Channel 4 reveals first look at new series of Ackley Bridge

The first of two images show best friends Kayla (Robyn Cara) and Fizza (Yasmin Al Khudhairi), new to viewers but existing pupils at Ackley Bridge, and Johnny (Ryan Dean), a new student and heartthrob.

Johnny catches the eye of both Kayla and Fizza but he’s suspicious of his new school.

The second shot shows teachers Kaneez Paracha (Sunetra Sarker), Sue Carp (Charlie Hardwick) and Hassain Hussein (Hareet Deol). They return alongside fellow teachers Martin Evershed (Rob James Collier), Mandy Carter (Jo Joyner) and Rashid Hyatt (Tony Jayawardena).

Filming resumes for a fourth series of Ackley Bridge

Yasmin Al Khudhairi, Robyn Cara and Ryan Dean (Credit: Channel 4)

The new ten-part series will see the addition of new character Kayla (Robyn Cara), a funny and vibrant mixed-race teenager who is facing an identity crisis, torn between her mum’s family who are white and her dad’s traditional Pakistani family.

Joining Kayla is her best friend Fizza (Yasmin Al Khudhairi), who is intelligent and politically active, plus the attractive but arrogant Johnny (Ryan Dean), a member of the travelling community who is sceptical of school and catches the attention of Kayla and Fizza.