Students in Channel 4's Ackley Bridge Drama

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Last night saw the new series of Channel 4’s drama Ackley Bridge return for a second season. Set in a Yorkshire town of the same name, the show follows two schools – one predominantly Asian, the other predominantly white – that are forced to merge due to cuts, forming a single multi-cultural comprehensive. Tensions and clashes ensue, but by the end of the first season, viewers see various friendships forged between pupils from both schools.

We were delighted when 39 of our year 7/8/9 and 10 students were asked if they would like to take part in the series.
Here is a report by Yr10 student Ela-Maya Unver on how the day went.

On the 29th March, 39 drama students including myself were selected to take part on Channel 4's Ackley Bridge as extras. We had set off  by coach and arrived at the school of St Catherine's, where the TV show was being shot, in the morning. The crew showed us to our waiting room, where we spent most of the day apart from when we were on set.   

When we first arrived one crew member came and informed us that we had to get costumes on, so she first took 12 girls to women's costume, to get the Ackley Bridge uniform on, a few of the girls were asked whether they wanted to wear hijabs to reflect the school's multiculturalism.  After we all in costume, we were asked not to take any photos so that no spoilers would surface online. Then we were taken to set, where we were all given seats to watch a performance as part of the audience. They ran through the scene a few times, checking the different lighting and cameras before they got the right shot. A few of us were moved around by the crew. And we were given little brochures to hold throughout the 'performance' as props . When they had finished that part of the scene, a crew member brought us all back to the waiting room where we all ate a few snacks.

Some of the main cast members came to meet our school; one who was extremely friendly, went around the entire room high-fiving everybody. We were allowed to ask them any questions related to drama as well as take photos with them. All of us were later called back onto set, however the crew said that the extras who were currently behind the camera didn't need to be present so we were taken back to the waiting room. When the others had returned, we were invited to get dinner. A couple of students had brought packed food but the rest were eager to eat the hot food provided. There was a selection of meals available including chicken with sweet corn and potatoes. 

Once lunch was over we were called back on set a few more times to complete the scene. And in-between, all of us were visited by other cast members and by one of the assistant directors who was enthusiastic to give us all advice about the film-industry. When filming was over we were taken back in small groups to the costume department where we had to return the uniform. We then made our way back to the coach, which would take us back to our school.

I believe that the school received a very beneficial opportunity that allowed students to take part, even as extras, on TV. Its a step in the right direction for all the students who want to pursue a career in film as they get to experience it firsthand. And understand what goes into creating pieces like Ackley Bridge.
Ela-Maya Unver Yr10