Lessons will resume for the students and teachers of Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge, with 12 x 60’ new episodes commissioned from The Forge for a split TX in 2018 following the success of the first series. Screen Yorkshire is investing in the hit school drama, set in the fictional Yorkshire mill-town of Ackley Bridge, through its Yorkshire Content Fund.
The first six-part series, filmed in Halifax, triumphantly marked the channel’s return to 8pm week-night drama for the first time in 13 years. It is attracting an average consolidated audience of 2.4 million viewers per episode and a 12% share, almost double the slot average. Ackley Bridge is also Channel 4’s top performing commission for 10-15 year olds this year, performing particularly well among young viewers, up a massive +545% compared to the slot average.
The school drama is set in the fictional Yorkshire mill-town of Ackley Bridge, which is home to a largely divided white and Asian population. Like the communities, the school systems had previously become segregated, but that all changes when two formerly isolated comprehensives are merged into the brand new academy, Ackley Bridge College.
Jo Joyner and Paul Nicholls star in Ackley Bridge, filmed in Halifax
Local school children with no previous acting experience have been given roles in Ackley Bridge, starring alongside some of the best known faces of British drama, including Jo Joyner, Paul Nicholls, Sunetra Sarker, Liz White, Adil Ray, Arsher Ali, Poppy Lee-Friar and Amy Leigh-Hickman.
It was created by Ayub Khan Din (East is East), Kevin Erlis (Shameless) and Malcolm Campbell (Shameless, What Richard Did). Directed by Penny Woolcock (Tina Goes Shopping, Mischief Night, The Death of Klinghoffer, 1 Day) with Robert Quinn (No Offence) and Jon East (Downton Abbey) directing episodes 3&4 and 5&6 respectively. Executive Producers are George Ormond (National Treasure, Great Expectations), George Faber (Shameless, Skins), Ayub Khan Din and Malcolm Campbell with Alexander Lamb (Eastenders, Waterloo Road) serving as Producer.
Beth Willis, Head of Channel 4 Drama says, “Roll on the next term at Ackley Bridge! Channel 4 is so thrilled to be working again with the brilliant producing and writing team at The Forge and the super talented cast on this funny, thoughtful, incredibly special show. I’m bagging a seat at the front of the class”
George Ormond, Executive Producer, says, “We’re over the moon that Ackley Bridge has connected so well with the audience, and our writing team is already brimming with stories for 12 more punchy, funny, surprising episodes.”
Channel 4 Drama commissioners for series two will be Lee Mason and Manpreet Dosanjh. It will be produced by The Forge in association with Screen Yorkshire and Hugo Heppell (National Treasure, Mischief Night) will join as Exec Producer. It will film in Halifax later this year. Further information will follow in due course. all3media International is The Forge’s international partner on the series and will handle its international distribution.
”Ackley Bridge has balls. And a heart.” – Sam Wollaston, The Guardian
“This new school drama is so good it should be on more than a measly once a week… Spontaneous and current.” – The Observer
“It’s gritty, it’s funny, it grapples with issues and it’s about a distinct community… Long may it run.” – Matt Baylis, The Daily Express
”A timely school-set drama about unity in society.” – Rebecca Monks, iNews