Paul Ni­cholls

Now (UK) - - TV -

Cur­rently play­ing PE teacher Steve Bell in C4’s school drama Ack­ley Bridge, Paul tells us more about Steve’s job and dif­fi­cult mar­riage to Jo Joyner’s Mandy and looks back to his own school­days…

So did you base Steve on any­one you know?

He’s an old-school PE teacher in that he’s stuck in the 90s. I based him a bit on my PE teacher, who was tough. I also think Steve comes from a bit of a rough back­ground. When he was a kid he got into trou­ble and had a few fights, and that’s why he gets on so well with the pupils who have trou­bles.

Would you be mates with Steve in real life?

I per­son­ally wouldn’t have him as a friend. He’s not my cup of tea re­ally. He’s a bit rough and ready, a bit of a lad’s lad. I’m cer­tainly not a lad’s lad!

Do you think Steve feels some­what emas­cu­lated by hav­ing his wife, head­mistress Mandy Carter, as his boss?

It crops up, but not con­stantly. I wouldn’t say he’s re­sent­ful. But in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, when she has to over­ride him or give him a telling off, then ob­vi­ously he feels quite emas­cu­lated. He’s very old school in his ways, that’s the way I planned him any­way. How is it work­ing with kids?

Some of them I work with a lot and they are just hi­lar­i­ous. It’s good fun. I for­get I’m in my thir­ties now, in many ways I still feel like a 16-year-old!

What was it like work­ing with Kim­ber­ley Walsh? [the Girls Aloud star has joined the se­ries as Steve’s trou­ble­some ex Claire But­ter­worth]

She was lovely and has been so bril­liant in the show as well. It’s hard com­ing on to a se­ries where peo­ple have been work­ing with each other be­fore, as ev­ery­one has friend­ships go­ing al­ready, and you come into it and it’s quite daunt­ing and scary. I didn’t know she’d been act­ing since she was a kid, be­fore she was in a band. So it wasn’t her ‘first rodeo’. She was great – a real sweet­heart.

What were you like at school? Were you in detention, or get­ting dis­tinc­tions?

My friends at school and my­self were hardly there!

We did all right at school, but

I did get into some trou­ble.

I wasn’t the best school­boy in the world.

Ack­ley Bridge con­tin­ues on C4 on Tues­days at 9pm

Steve is mar­ried to the head teacher, Mandy (Jo Joyner)

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