With Waterloo Road now settled in its Scottish home, the new school term starts with the opening of the PRU (pupil referral unit) – Michael’s grand vision to help teenagers falling through the educational cracks.
But what he doesn’t bank on is the arrival of the Barry family – a hell-raising Liverpudlian criminal clan lead by no-nonsense mother Carol Barry, lone parent to Waterloo Road’s newest pupils – bad boy Barry and daughters Dynasty and Kacey.
If Waterloo Road can turn the Barrys into model students, they’ll be the school’s greatest success story – pity they have anything but top grades on their criminal minds.
A welcome face also returns to the corridors of Waterloo Road as former English teacher, Nikki Boston joins the school to front the PRU. With her army background, Nikki’s the perfect disciplinarian to lead the PRU but it’s not going to be an easy ride for any of them, least of all Nikki.
The new term also brings uncertainty for head teacher Michael. On bail awaiting trial, accused of murdering his father, there’s no escaping the shadows this controversy casts on his career and Waterloo Road.
Waterloo Road is a Shed Production for BBC One through BBC Scotland.
Carol Barry played by Zoe Lucker
Head of a hell-raising Liverpudlian criminal family who cause a stir when they arrive at Waterloo Road. With her husband in prison, Carol is lone-parent to unruly kids – bad boy Barry and daughters Dynasty and Kacey. The Barry kids are afraid of no-one – except their mother who exerts vice-like control over her children’s lives, making it clear what’s expected of them. Behind Carol’s ‘trashy-glam’ image, she’s a forceful and occasionally terrifying matriarch with a fiery temper.
Carol Barry sounds like a formidable character… tell us about her
She’s a mum of three, single handidly trying to look after her three wayward children while her husband is in prison.
Carol’s a very crass, almost undignified character! She’s immoral, hostile, fearless and raises her children with the same sort of tough love she experienced. So although she’s not the nicest character, I do understand where she’s coming from.
Even with the biggest rogue you need to find some good in them, I wouldn’t necessarily want to go out for a drink with Carol but she’s not an out and out baddie.
Are the Barrys Waterloo Road’s worst nightmare?
I would say they are definitely up there! All three of the children come to the school with the individual problems but share an added problem – their mother.
I don’t know how the Waterloo Road audience will react to Carol - I’m not sure if people will be shocked by her or not. They probably won’t quite believe what they have seen.
What are her kids – Barry, Dynasty and Kacey – like?
All three kids are desperate for their mum to praise them individually – she’s quite a cold character and they want to please her.
Barry is very wayward and he desperately needs focus in life. He can’t sit still for a moment, he’s always looking for trouble and there’s also a side to him which is constantly trying to impress his mother.
Dynasty is all about the way she looks and although she’s actually quite a bright kid, she doesn’t realise how clever she is because it’s been hidden for so long. Carol has encouraged her to make the most of her looks and not her brain.
And Kacey? Let’s just say she has lots of issues which will be revealed over time…
Do you like playing troublemaking characters and did you have any real-life inspirations for Carol?
Oh absolutely. All the things she does and the kind of mother she is the exact opposite of me!
When I was growing up there were certain people I interacted with who had elements of Carol in them. So when I first read the scripts and got to know Carol, I could see certain parts of her personality in people I’d met over the years.
I’ve never played a really nice and flawless character – maybe because there’s no such thing!
Are you a fan of Waterloo Road?
I’ve always watched it whenever I can. I tend to always watch what Shed [production company that make Waterloo Road] make as I feel part of their family.
Any memorable moments from filming?
I would probably say the scene where Carol slaps Barry – it was so alien to me, I couldn’t believe anyone would do that to someone they love. There are so many scenes with Carol which go against who I am but that’s what happens when you’re an actor.
Were your school days the best days of your life?
No, not at all! There were lots of elements of school I did like – I had lots of great friends, enjoyed sport and loved English – but I was absolutely terrible at maths and science and, because there’s so much focus on those subjects, I hated them. For me, I didn’t feel the need to be brilliant at everything, just alright would do. But maths was a subject where I was always the bottom of the class which made me feel awful. The good thing was my older brother was brilliant at maths!
What other projects have you got coming up?
I’m back with Waterloo Road in January for more episodes, I’m thinking of going to New York with my family for a while but who knows? I need to pick and choose what I do in the future because my family comes first.
Nikki Boston played by Heather Peace
A former Waterloo Road teacher in Rochdale, Nikki’s army background makes her the perfect disciplinarian candidate to front Michael’s new pupil referral unit (PRU) – a scheme to help children failing in mainstream education. Tough and ambitious, Nikki loves nothing more than a challenge, but under her strict exterior lies a woman who genuinely cares about the Waterloo Road pupils.
Welcome back! Is it nice to be back in the Waterloo Road classrooms again?
Yeah, it was lovely seeing everyone again. It was strange being out of the show for a little while but it kind of worked out well for me because I was so busy with other projects.
What brings Nikki back to Waterloo Road?
She’s back to lead the pupil referral unit – with her disciplinarian attitude she’s the perfect person to take charge of the ‘naughty’ kids. I think with her army background she understands the need for discipline. If anyone steps out of line she’s on them immediately and from the off she creates this team ethos in the PRU – everyone working together. For Nikki, she instils a sense of the pupils keeping each other in line. So if you don’t do well then others will suffer and probably end up doing press-ups thanks to you.
What can we expect from Nikki this year?
A few mistakes led by her stubbornness – when Nikki makes her mind up about something or someone nothing can sway her. This leads her to make a few mistakes along the way and means that she’s not always popular with the other teachers in the staffroom. I don’t quite know why – I like her. She’s more hardcore than ever but there’s a real warmth to her because she understands the kids and the way they think more often than not. This year, there’s a brilliant storyline between Nikki and Scout which will take part in the first half of the next series.
Nikki’s known to be a strict disciplinarian but do you think she’s met her match in the Barrys?
Weirdly, I think that Nikki quite warms to Barry Barry! She kind of gets him, she knows he’s out of line but she gets him and almost has a sort of slight affection for him. I think she thinks she can change him – she’s probably seen a few Barry Barrys in her time in the army.
Is it fair to say the Barrys are Waterloo Road’s worst nightmare?
Well Barry Barry certainly is. He has a negative influence over his sisters [Dynasty and Kacey] and his mother, Carol, is a bit of a nightmare too. So as a unit, they’re all pretty awful but over time you’ll start to see a change in the Barrys. Zoe Lucker and I have got on like a house on fire and spent lots of time together out of work and the Barry kids all hang out together so there’s a great energy and enthusiasm on set.
Did you base the character of Nikki on anyone from your past?
Well I think she’ll be an amalgamation of characters I’ve played over the years – I’ve certainly never met anyone like Nikki Boston in my life! When I was in London’s Burning I did fire service training and with Ultimate Force I trained with the military so I have had a taste of that level of discipline which has helped informed my Waterloo Road role.
What do you make of your new school in Scotland?
I think it’s great – it looks really lovely on screen, the setting is incredible. Now that it’s a privately funded school, this has allowed the show to throw the rule book out of the window and do things you couldn’t with a state school which is really interesting. There are scripts now that you couldn’t have if it was set in a normal comprehensive.
Was it good to be back in Scotland filming again?
It’s three years in a row I’ve been in Glasgow – I think I’ve spent more time there this year that I have at home! I love the city, the people up there are just like Yorkshire people. It’s become a home from home for me now.
Were your school days the best days of your life?
No, I’d say university was better to be honest.
What other projects have you got planned for 2013?
I’ll be touring the UK again in March next year, plus I’m playing Sydney Mardi Gras and touring Australia in February, which is very exciting. I’ve written eight tracks for the next album. So it’s a balance between acting and music and until I find one that’s a clear runner above the other, I’ll keep on doing both. Music gives me more sleepless nights because the buck ultimately stops with me. The acting is a little easier – I’m told when to turn up and what to say!