Waterloo Rd’s Sarah reveals Linda’s dark side

Waterloo Road gets another new teacher in the staffroom this week, and Sarah Hadland tells TV Times magazine why she jumped at the chance to star as Head of English Linda Radleigh in the BBC1 drama…

Hi Sarah, we really enjoyed Linda’s debut episode! On first impressions she seems nice but are we right in thinking there might be more to her than meets the eye?

“Ooh I’m so glad you already think something’s not right! All I can say is that she’s had a past with headteacher Michael Byrne and more will be revealed about that. There is quite a dark side to Linda, but to what extent… Linda’s a fantastic teacher – enthusiastic, bubbly and lovely, but she certainly ruffles a few feathers quite quickly!”

Michael gives Linda the job as part of his on-going campaign to turn the school into an A-star establishment. How do they know each other?

“They went to teaching training college together and have kept in touch over the years. It’s possible Linda may hold a little bit of a candle for him, shall we say!”

Exciting! So, what attracted you to the part?

“It really appealed because Linda is so different from Stevie, the character I play in Miranda. It’s really interesting and great fun to play somebody who rubs people up the wrong way like Linda does because you get to give people all the evil looks you might like to do in real life, but you can’t!”

Did you enjoy swapping Stevie’s trainers for high-stacked wedge heels?

“Having played Stevie who walks around in Converse pumps all the time, I absolutely love high heels because I’m so small. So when the costume designer Darren Finch said it’d be nice to have Linda in wedges, I replied: ‘Yes! As high as we can go please!’ It’s the best workout because it’s a real test of whether you can stay upright!”

How does working on Miranda (which returns for a third series next year) compare to Waterloo Road?

“Miranda is a completely different process because we have a studio audience watching us record it so we have to rehearse lots beforehand as we only have one night to do it all in one go. Whereas working on Waterloo Road is more episodes, done much faster, and all over a longer period of time.”

New Waterloo Road teachers often tell us that filming their first scene is a baptism of fire as they’re surrounded by lots of pupils. What was your first scene like?

“It was actually in the girls’ toilets with Jaye Jacobs [who plays teacher Sian Diamond] and I was wearing a rugby referee kit! What you just described is what I imagined I’d be doing. I’d have been absolutely fine with that, though, as I was looking forward to being in front of a class because I come from a family of teachers: My mum is a teacher, my dad’s a lecturer at university, my grandpa was a headmaster, my grandma was a teacher and my cousins are all teachers!”

Are they Waterloo Road fans?

“My mum, Jill, is and she was over the moon when I said I was doing the show. She taught primary school children for over 35 years. She was very keen to know what I’d be wearing and when I showed her my costumes, she said: ‘I don’t think I ever looked that glamorous’. I replied: ‘Actually mum I remember you wearing really smart clothes including nice fitted skirts so you did look that glam!’”

What do you remember about your own school days?

“I went to normal, local, state schools and then a musical theatre college when I was 16. I was very clever and also the annoying child who was always talking! When my teachers said you can only talk if you’ve finished your work, I would say that I had finished it so I could talk.”

Were you good at English like Linda?

“I absolutely loved English and think it was reading plays at school that got me interested in drama. I also liked French because talking in a different language is quite theatrical.”

What were your least favourite subjects?

“I never really enjoyed Physics, and I hated Woodwork, but that’s only because I dropped a G-clamp on my toe! I remember my friend and I weren’t wearing our regulation hobnail boots or whatever it was we were supposed to have on.”

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