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Casting announced on C4's new 8pm drama The ABC (w/t)

Filming has begun on “The ABC” (W/T), heralding Channel 4’s return to 8pm week night drama. The 6x60’ series which is centred on a vibrant and multicultural Yorkshire comprehensive school, began filming on location in Yorkshire earlier this month. Created by Ayub Khan Din (East is East), Kevin Erlis (Shameless) and Malcolm Campbell (Shameless, What Richard Did) it will be directed by Penny Woolcock (Tina Goes Shopping, Mischief Night, The Death of Klinghoffer, 1 Day) and written by Malcolm Campbell, Anya Reiss, Ishy Din, Suhayla el-Bushra and Ayub Khan Din for TX later this year.

Ackley Bridge is a Yorkshire mill town, home to largely divided white and Asian populations. Like the communities, the school systems have also become segregated. However as two formerly isolated comprehensives are merged into a brand new academy, Ackley Bridge College, the lives and cultures of each are set to collide. Lessons are about to be learnt in and out of the classroom, even if education isn’t the first thing on the agenda.

Spearheading the new academy is head teacher Mandy Carter (Jo Joyner – Ordinary Lies, EastEnders, No Angels). Headstrong, dedicated and hot on discipline, she’s determined to make it a success, even at a cost to her marriage to P.E teacher Steve Bell (Paul Nicholls – The C Word, Law and Order: UK, Eastenders). Outwardly calm and charming he soon finds his patience tested by troubled and provocative pupil Jordan Wilson (Sam Bottomley – Jericho). Mandy feels her authority risks being undermined by Emma Keane (Liz White – Our Zoo). Emma’s first day in the new academy doesn’t quite go according to plan as her life is turned upside down by the unexpected arrival of her troubled and troublesome daughter, Chloe (Fern Deacon – The Enfield Haunting), who normally lives with her father. Not only that, but the discovery that ex-boyfriend, and ex-offender, Sami (Arsher Ali – The Missing, Four Lions) is now a fellow teacher means life at Ackley Bridge College is about to get a whole lot more complicated…

The new term gets off to a bumpy start with the pupils of Ackley Bridge College too: Missy (Poppy Lee Friar – In the Club) has been friends with Nasreen (Amy Leigh Hickman – The Dumping Ground, Eastenders) all her life. But she finds she may no longer have a place in her best friend’s life as the cliques that form in the newly “integrated” academy threaten to push them apart forever rather than bring them closer together. Meanwhile a frustrated and uncontrollable Jordan uses the first school assembly to pull a divisive stunt that is wholly misjudged and lands him in hot water with the school and the authorities, as well as having damaging repercussions for one staff member in particular.

Elsewhere, dinner lady Kaneez Paracha (Sunetra Sarker – Casualty, Emmerdale, No Angels) is a forthright single mum to students Nasreen, Razia (newcomer Nazmeen Kausar Hussain) and Saleem (newcomer Esa Ashraf). Fellow parent Sadiq Nawaz (Adil Ray – Citizen Khan) is a dynamic and successful businessman and is the academy’s sponsor. He has much more invested in its success than just the education of his kids and, like Mandy, he will do whatever it takes to make it work…

The ABC explores the chaos, humour, camaraderie, pride, prejudice, conflict, romance and jealousies that define the school experience for teachers, pupils and parents alike. It will also explore the challenges of integration in traditionally divided communities and highlight the unexpected trials, and tribulations, that happen when we try and put aside our differences. Warm, mischievous and funny, challenging, insightful and very timely, The ABC offers a glimpse into a community with grand ambitions but a long and bumpy road ahead of it.

The six part series will be made by The Forge (National Treasure) and is created by Ayub Khan Din (East is East), Kevin Erlis and Malcolm Campbell (Shameless). The series is directed by Penny Woolcock (Tina Goes Shopping, Mischief Night, The Death of Klinghoffer, 1 Day). Robert Quinn (No Offence) directs episodes 3 and 4 and Jon East (Downton Abbey) directs episodes 5 and 6. George Faber (Shameless, Skins), George Ormond (National Treasure, Great Expectations) Malcolm Campbell and Ayub Khan Din serve as executive producers with Alexander Lamb (Eastenders, Waterloo Road) producing.

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