Ex-Holby City star Tom Chambers talks about his new role as the tough new executive head of Waterloo Road

What was it like going back to school?
“For my first scene I had to take an assembly with around 200 kids watching me pretending to be this high-flying executive headmaster! It was absolutely terrifying getting up on that stage!”

You become the executive head when Waterloo Road merges with your school, John Fosters. What is the reaction?
“As you can imagine there are too many cooks. But Max is soon trying to change everything, with good intentions, for the better because he believes in hard discipline and taking a zero-tolerance approach. The way he thinks is so controlling and manipulative – he’s basically a psychological bully.”

A very different character for you then?
“Max’s an amazing character to play – everyone wants to have the chance at playing the villain! He’s certainly a far stretch from Sam Strachan, the character I played on Holby City. Sam was the lothario and a joker whereas Max is hard-nosed, cool and cutting. I just hope he’ll get his comeuppance!”

Sounds like we’re going to love to hate Max…
“I hope you do! Max is so out there that I can’t imagine he wouldn’t get people’s backs up straight away and with any luck the audience will love that he is so honest!”

How did you prepare?
“My sister’s a politics teacher so she told me what it’s like and I actually went along to her school open day where I kept a very close eye on the teachers’ behaviour especially the headmistress.”

So, having honed your teaching skills, do you think you could now do the job for real?
“No – it’s a minefield! I have so much respect for anyone in the teaching industry, especially after watching Denise Welch [French teacher Steph Haydock] on BBC1 documentary Playing the Part, where she was a teacher for the day. You could see that there’s so much involved when you actually try and tackle all the issues and deal with situations. Teachers must constantly be bogged down in paperwork and bureaucracy. I really admire what they do and Waterloo Road has opened my eyes as to how skilled the profession is.”