Former Silent Witness and The Commander star Amanda Burton joins Waterloo Road as its formidable and fearsome new headteacher. We caught up with Amanda to find out more about her exciting new role... New headteacher Karen Fisher makes quite a first impression! What changes does she makes on her first day? "Karen makes some sweeping changes when she arrives at the school. She abolishes the cooler system and introduces a new ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule. Not everyone agrees with her new regime – Grantly and Ruby are probably her biggest opposition - but that’s Waterloo Road!" We discover Karen’s eldest daughter Bex – played by Tina O’Brien later in the series - has run away from home. How does she cope with this? "Rather badly! Karen’s preoccupied with Bex’s disappearance and has taken the eye off the ball with her other two children and her husband. I think they all feel a bit emotionally neglected by her. Karen tries really hard to balance her work and home life, but she doesn’t get it right a lot of the time." And then she discovers her husband Charlie, Coronation Street’s Ian Puleston Davies, is having an affair? "That’s a really good storyline. It kicks off pretty early when we see Charlie joining the staff as a supply teacher and then it all comes out. The opening episodes are quite dramatic!" You’re best known for Silent Witness and The Commander. Is this an unusual role for you? "One of the lovely things about Karen is she’s very much a mother as well as a working woman, which bring another dimension to the character, so it is quite different. Waterloo Road is unique – it’s got a huge, vibrant, young cast. It’s also a show the whole family can watch together. I really like that and it makes a change from playing characters involved in gruesome cases!" What were your own schooldays like? "My father was headmaster of my primary school so that was quite nice. But I didn’t enjoy my secondary education as much. Probably because I’m a physical person and didn’t like being bound to a desk all day. It suited me to go to drama school after my A Levels, as it’s much more active." Do you think you would have been sent to the cooler? "Oh yes! I think I was rather challenging at school, as I really didn’t like it very much. I wasn’t very academic, but I did lots of plays and debates to break the monotony. I can understand young people’s restlessness – it’s not for everyone. My sisters are teachers and are amused I’ve finally made it in the family – and I’ve outranked them by being headmistress!"
Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.
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