He plays Waterloo Road‘s bully Tariq, but actor Naveed Choudhry admits he was on the receiving end of bullies at school…
Tariq was excluded for attacking Finn, but he’s back this week. Is he trying to change?
“He is, but he’s caught in a situation he can’t get out of. I think Tariq is misunderstood. He’s a clever boy, but he always gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whenever he tries to be good, it ends up backfiring. Sometimes it’s easier to act up to the label people put on you than show them who you really are.”
Is he still under pressure from Kyle (George Sampson) to do things for the gang?
“Yes, and he’s so insecure about being bullied that he’s willing to go over the edge to show them that he’s ‘down’. As much as it goes against his instincts, he thinks if he does one last thing for them, they’ll get off his back. But it doesn’t work that way.”
Chalky seems to be the only one defending Tariq?
“I think Chalky has a bond with Tariq and treats him as a person whereas Mr Byrne is just patronising. Chalky makes him look at how his actions affect other people and shows him how he can improve.”
Does it feel weird playing a schoolboy when you’re actually 26?
“It’s great because Tariq is a bully and I was on the receiving end so it’s like I’m reliving my school days without being bullied. I think it has helped me get past a few issues I had at school. But it’s great putting on a school uniform at 26 and thinking, I still look 16!”
What advice would you give to anyone being bullied?
“Getting it off your chest always helps. If you can find a teacher you’re on a level with, someone you can talk to as a friend, then definitely take that opportunity. It’s the same with any issue – a problem shared is a problem halved. It’s true.”
What else are you up to?
“I’ve filmed a couple episodes of Silent Witness for the next series. My storyline covers a taboo subject matter – grooming young girls into prostitution. For me, it’s all just great experience and I’m learning every day.”
Waterloo Road screens on BBC One each Wednesday.