Ackley Bridge comes top of the class
“Ackley Bridge has balls. And a heart.” – Sam Wollaston, The Guardian
“This new school drama is so good it should be on more than a measly once a week… Spontaneous and current.” – The Observer“It’s gritty, it’s funny, it grapples with issues and it’s about a distinct community… Long may it run.” – Matt Baylis, The Daily Express
Channel 4 has confirmed that lessons will once again resume for the students and teachers of Ackley Bridge, with12x60’ new episodes commissioned from The Forge for a split TX in 2018.
The first, six-part critically acclaimed series is currently halfway through its run, and has triumphantly marked the channel’s return to 8pm week-night drama, being its first for 13 years. It is attracting an average consolidated audience of 2.2 million viewers per episode and an 11% share, significantly out-performing Channel 4’s slot average.
Ackley Bridge is also Channel 4’s highest rating commission for 10-15 year olds this year, performing particularly well among young viewers with an 18.5% share of 16-34 year olds and an even bigger 22.3% share of 10-15 year olds, which is up a massive +484% compared to the slot average.
The school drama is set in the fictional Yorkshire mill-town of Ackley Bridge, which is home to a largely divided white and Asian population. Like the communities, the school systems had previously become segregated, but that all changes when two formerly isolated comprehensives are merged into the brand new academy, Ackley Bridge College.
Series one stars Jo Joyner, Paul Nicholls, Sunetra Sarker, Liz White, Adil Ray, Arsher Ali, Poppy Lee-Friar and Amy Leigh-Hickman. It was created by Ayub Khan Din (East is East), Kevin Erlis (Shameless) and Malcolm Campbell (Shameless, What Richard Did). Directed by Penny Woolcock (Tina Goes Shopping, Mischief Night, The Death of Klinghoffer, 1 Day) with Robert Quinn (No Offence) and Jon East (Downton Abbey) directing episodes 3&4 and 5&6 respectively. Executive Producers are George Ormond (National Treasure, Great Expectations), George Faber (Shameless, Skins), Ayub Khan Din and Malcolm Campbell with Alexander Lamb (Eastenders, Waterloo Road) serving as Producer.
Beth Willis, Head of Channel 4 Drama says, “Roll on the next term at Ackley Bridge! Channel 4 is so thrilled to be working again with the brilliant producing and writing team at The Forge and the super talented cast on this funny, thoughtful, incredibly special show. I’m bagging a seat at the front of the class”
George Ormond, Executive Producer, says, “We’re over the moon that Ackley Bridge has connected so well with the audience, and our writing team is already brimming with stories for 12 more punchy, funny, surprising episodes.”
Channel 4 Drama commissioners for series two will be Lee Mason and Manpreet Dosanjh. It will be produced by The Forge in association with Screen Yorkshire and Hugo Heppell (National Treasure, Mischief Night) will join as Exec Producer. It will film in Halifax later this year. Further information will follow in due course. all3media International is The Forge’s international partner on the series and will handle its international distribution. (C4)