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)