The stars of Waterloo Road get back to school!

As the new term starts, TV Times magazine talks to Phillip Martin Brown, Chelsee Healy and Alex Walkinshaw – the stars of Waterloo Road – about getting back into the classroom…

Phillip Martin Brown is grumpy teacher Grantly

This series, we’re going to see Grantly’s tender side again in a moving storyline involving his wife Fleur, who’s currently in a care home having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Can you tell us more?

“This term is an emotional rollercoaster for Grantly. He’s at the depths of depression and despair throughout a few episodes and then he’s as high as a kite because of one of the new characters, who changes his world. Plus there’s a lot of comedy in there as well, so it’s a great journey for the character.”

Did you do any research for the Fleur storyline?

“Yes, I did a lot into the caring of Alzheimer’s patients and visited a carers’ respite centre and a day centre for Alzheimer’s sufferers. It’s just such a sad disease because you lose the person you love, although they are there physically.”

You’ve starred in the show since episode one; what do you think is the secret to its success?

“That it reinvents itself and keeps fresh by the change of characters and dealing with topical issues that affect children and parents. It’s amazing how many times we tackle an issue and the following day it is in the newspaper, having happened for real”

Did you tune into see Chelsee on Strictly?

“I did – she was amazing! Her energy is boundless and also I didn’t know that she was such a good dancer, to pick up those intricate steps so quickly was fantastic.”

Chelsee Healy is the school’s secretary Janeece

What’s in store this term for Janeece?

“There’s a big storyline coming up. It’s quite emotional and deep, but it was really good to do. It’s going to be worth watching, put it that way! You’ll also see lots of Janeece and Chalky scenes this term. I love working with Mark Benton, who plays him, as he’s one of my best friends on the show.”

We’ve seen photos of Janeece wearing a white wedding dress. We’ve promised not to spoil whom she gets hitched to, but did you have fun playing a bride?

“I loved every minute! It made me realise that I do really want to get married – but not yet, in the future, a long time from now! It was weird wearing a wedding dress and going through the marriage scenes but nice to do. Janeece’s dress is lovely and I could move easily in it, but it isn’t as big as what I’d want on my own wedding day!”

How did you find juggling filming commitments for Waterloo Road with training for Strictly Come Dancing?

“I was so tired. I don’t know how I got through it, but I did because I enjoyed them both so much.”

Alex Walkinshaw is head of PE Jez

So Alex, Jez has recently reunited with his wife, science teacher Sian following her affair with headteacher Michael Byrne. Is their marriage back on track?

“They’re working towards that. Jez doesn’t want to dwell on the past, partly because he doesn’t know how to deal with anything! He’s so optimistic and hopeful – I mean my cup’s half-full, but his is two-thirds! However his cup’s going to run out, poor chap…”

Oh dear. But there are some lovely scenes coming up as Jez tries to be a better dad to his kids Madi and Zack. Is it fun working with Georgia Henshaw and Lee Abbate, who play them?

“They’re absolutely great! Georgia’s lovely and happy to find little bits within a scene to get the best out of it. Although Lee’s younger and hasn’t been acting for as long as Georgia, he’s energetic and keen to learn. And, yes, sometimes I have to be ‘Dad’ and tell them off, saying: ‘Calm down! Let Dad have a coffee, then we can get on with our day!’”

What other storylines are you looking forward to watching?

“I love everything Chalky does! I’m also enjoying the Matt Wilding storyline about him becoming a dad and Grantly makes me laugh, as he’s such a cankerous old fart!”

Did you watch Chelsee on Strictly?

“Every week! I’m so proud of her, she did really well as she was incredibly nervous. Sometimes in between takes I’d ask her to show me some moves, but she just shouted at me and called me stupid!”