The former EastEnder Jo Joyner joins a star-studded cast for a new drama set in a multi-cultural Yorkshire comprehensive

Former EastEnder Jo Joyner is to play a headmistress for a new Channel 4 drama which has begun filming in Yorkshire.

Jo, best known for her role as Walford’s long-suffering Tanya Branning, will play feisty head teacher, Mandy Carter, who’s hot on discipline and determined to make a success of the brand new multi-cultural academy she’s been put in charge of.

Set in the Yorkshire mill town of Ackley Bridge, tensions rise and cultures collide as the new academy brings together a segregated Asian and white population as two comprehensive schools are merged.

Mandy’s driven and committed but her dedication comes at a price and it’s clear her marriage to PE teacher Steve, played by Paul Nicholls (The C Word, EastEnders), who works at the same school, is under strain as she focuses on making the new academy, Ackley Bridge College, a success.

 

Also starring in the drama, with a working title of The ABC, is Sunetra Sarker (Casualty, No Angels) who plays dinner lady Kaneez Paracha, a forthright single mum to three children attending the school. Sunetra and Jo co-starred in Channel 4’s medical comedy-drama No Angels.

Sunetra

 

Kaneez is separated from her husband Sadiq, played by Adil Ray (Citizen Khan), a dynamic and successful businessman who is the academy’s sponsor. With so much invested in the new school, and not just the education of his kids, Sadiq, like headteacher Mandy, will do whatever it takes to make the college a success.

A spokesperson said: “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 challenge of integration in traditionally divided communities and highlight the unexpected trials, and tribulations, that happen when we try and put aside our differences.”

 

The series, also starring Liz White (Our Zoo) and Arsher Ali (The Missing, Four Lions) has been created by Ayub Khan Din (East is East), Kevin Erlis (Shameless) and Malcom Campbell (What Richard Did) and promises to be ‘warm, mischievous and fun as well as insightful and timely’.

The ABC will screen on Channel 4  later this year.