Holly Kenny: ‘I wanted Sam to go out with a bang’

Dying of a brain tumour, Sambuca enlists the help of fellow Waterloo Road pupils Finn and Lauren because she wants to find her father in Blackpool. Holly Kenny explains what happens in Sambuca’s heartbreaking final episode next week and reveals her plans for the future…

You’ve been part of Waterloo Road for the last four series. What’s it like being part of such a popular show?

“When I first started on Waterloo Road I was excited to be playing Sam, but I was nervous about coming into a popular drama with so many professional actors. I wondered how I would fit in! But as soon as I arrived I knew I had nothing to worry about. Everyone made me feel really welcome and I soon felt at home. I’ve enjoyed the whole experience of Waterloo Road. I wouldn’t change anything I’ve experienced over the past four years.”

How has working on the programme affected your studies?

“Obviously, working on Waterloo Road for six months at a time has meant I’ve missed a lot of school. I didn’t have a chance to learn the things I needed to in class, but my school were prepared for it and forwarded work to me. I had an on-set tutor who’d help me with my studies for three hours per day in between filming scenes, so I didn’t fall behind with my studies.”

How does it feel to be moving on?

“Waterloo Road has been an exciting and unique chapter in my life and I was very sad to announce that I was leaving. But I felt that the time was right for me to move on and go back to school to complete my GCSEs.”

What will you miss most about Waterloo Road?

“I’ll miss the whole experience of Waterloo Road! The cast, the crew, we were like a huge family sharing some really good times on set and off set.”

And what will you be glad to see the back of?

“I must say that I’ll definitely not miss the 7am wake-up calls and the one-hour travel time to and from Rochdale every day for nearly six months.”

How has Sam’s character changed over the series?

“When Sam first arrived at the school, she was a mouthy teenager who didn’t care who she upset. She was used to the disruption of regularly moving schools and never having the chance to settle in. But things changed when she became best friends with Lauren. She knew then that Waterloo Road was where she belonged. Gradually over the four series Sam has grown up a lot, not just in appearance, but in her attitude towards everything; friendships, relationships and school itself.”

How daunting a prospect was the storyline which will soon unfold on screen?

“When I first read the script for my final episode of Waterloo Road it was daunting to think that this would be my last storyline. I thought about how it would affect the viewers, would they like the storyline, would they be upset about the way in which Sam leaves the series? It was challenging to portray the reality of what children just like Sam also go through and it was hard at times, but with the support from both cast and crew I thoroughly enjoyed shooting Sam’s final episodes.”

Did you have any say in how you were written out?

“When I told Shed Productions that I was leaving Waterloo Road, I told them that I didn’t want Sam just to disappear, I wanted her to go out with a bang. I didn’t have a say in exactly how she would leave, but I’m happy with the choice that they made.”

You’re studying for GCSEs at the moment; what are your plans beyond that?

“I am going into further education in September at a Sixth-form college and will do a BTEC Diploma in Performing Arts as well as some A Levels. The plan is to take a couple of years out of the filming business, so I can complete my education to the highest standards. Hopefully there will still be a spot in the industry for me to return to in later years.”

*Waterloo Road is on BBC1, Wednesday at 7.30pm

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