Paul Ni­cholls on his TV re­turn in Ackley Bridge

Ackley Bridge ac­tor Paul Ni­cholls on the chal­lenges of be­ing a child­hood star and his own school­days

TV Times - - News - Vic­to­ria Wil­son

The young stars of C4 drama Ackley Bridge need not go too far for ca­reer ad­vice be­cause Paul Ni­cholls knows all about grow­ing up on screen.

Hav­ing made his act­ing de­but aged 10 in ITV’S Chil­dren’s Ward, the Bolton-born ac­tor played Tim Mar­shall in CBBC drama The Biz be­fore be­com­ing a house­hold name in 1996 af­ter join­ing Easten­ders as trou­bled teenager Joe Wicks.

In re­cent years Paul’s co-starred in, among other things, Law

Or­der: UK and In the Club, but in Ackley Bridge, his char­ac­ter, PE teacher Steve Bell, takes cen­tre stage.

While Steve’s do­ing every­thing he can to make the school’s in­te­grated rugby team a suc­cess, he wor­ries about how closely his head teacher wife Mandy Carter (Jo Joyner) is work­ing with school spon­sor Sadiq Nawaz (Adil Ray).

Here, Paul, 38, tells us about his school­days and re­unit­ing with Jo…

What ap­pealed to you about Ackley Bridge? It’s about peo­ple grow­ing closer as hu­man be­ings, whether ro­man­ti­cally or the idea of dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties edg­ing closer to each other. It re­minds me of the first play I did called Yoiks, Oiks! It was about a pri­vate school and a low-end state school and how they had to mix. The Ackley Bridge scripts re­minded me of that .

What’s Steve and

Mandy’s mar­riage like?

Mandy and Steve’s re­la­tion­ship is very back and forth and there are lots of ob­sta­cles to over­come. But there’s some­thing hold­ing them to­gether. Steve likes that she’s a strong wo­man. He ad­mires her and be­cause he’s such a child, she has to take him in hand some­times. They’re very at­tracted to each other and they make each other laugh.

You worked with Jo Joyner on BBC drama Candy Cabs in 2011. What was it like work­ing with her again? When I worked with her on Candy Cabs she was like this glammed-up, blonde party girl; it was a very com­i­cal char­ac­ter and she blew me away. But to work with her on this, and see her play a very dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter with so many nu­ances, was bril­liant.

You filmed in the win­ter. Was it chilly hav­ing to wear your PE kit? Yes! The last day film­ing was re­ally cold. We had a mini-van to get in, and as soon as we cut, every­one piled in. We just wanted that day to end.

What were you like at school?

I can’t tell you that! I was never there – but I did have a few de­ten­tions.

Did your act­ing work af­fect you at school? There was an episode of The Biz where I sang a song. When I walked into as­sem­bly the day af­ter it came out, the whole school started sing­ing the song. Every­one was point­ing at me and I just wanted to die! But then I’m a bit weird –

I’m an ac­tor, yet I don’t like at­ten­tion!

Ackley Bridge wed­nes­day / C4 / 8.00Pm

Paul as Joe Wicks, with michael French

as his dad david You boy! mr Carter con­fronts a trou­ble­maker

The whole school was point­ing at me and I just wanted to die!

Paul Ni­cholls

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