A new era beckons for Waterloo Road as the staff and some of the pupils set up their new home in Scotland, in series eight of the BBC One drama.
Returning to his home after two decades away, headteacher Michael Byrne has big plans for the school. His ambition is to instil the importance of education in its pupils, to inspire the next generation and provide a decent education for all that want it – no matter what their background is.
School benefactor, and former pupil of Michael, Lorraine Donnegan, supports his vision fully – she did, afterall, headhunt him for the position. But it’s not long before Lorraine’s business sensibilities clash with Michael’s educational ethos and she starts to scrutinise the running of the school.
As if starting up a new school isn’t enough to contend with, there’s rivalry with local school Havelock High and its headmaster Gerard Findlay as well as ghosts from Michael’s past to contend with. It might not be the new start Michael had hoped for afterall…
Here, co-creator and writer of Waterloo Road, Shed Productions CEO Eileen Gallagher, reveals the dramas which await the staff and pupils as well as the reasons behind the move to Scotland.
Introduction by Eileen Gallagher
“The new school in Greenock, near Glasgow, has a similar look and feel to our former school building in Rochdale - just a bit bigger and a little brighter but the heart of Waterloo Road remains the same.
“As you would expect from Waterloo Road there are many twists and turns in the new series. Lorraine, one of Michael's first students who was inspired by him and is now a multi-millionaire, seems like the perfect answer to Michael's struggle with the local education authority. But his freedom from local authority control comes at a price - Lorraine control - and he soon comes to realise he's swapped one unmanageable master for another
“I'm very excited about the new characters we have in the next series. We have new English teacher, Christine Mulgrew, who is struggling with her attachment to the vodka bottle and her son, Connor, who's at the end of his tether. Michael also brings traditionalist history teacher, Audrey McFall, who is excited about Michael's no nonsense regime. Her enthusiasm puts her at daggers drawn with staff room cynic, Grantly Budgen.
“Waterloo Road is a precious commodity and a drama loved by its audience of loyal fans. So Shed and the BBC were both agreed we would not move it unless we were sure the show would benefit from any changes.
“The more we thought about the move, the more we realised that creatively it could give Waterloo Road a new lease of life.
“From the outset, we were clear that we wouldn't just move the physical production to Scotland and in the story keep Waterloo Road school in Rochdale. So we had to come up with a storyline that took headmaster, Michael, his core teachers and some of our most loved students with him.
“The show's creator, Ann McManus stepped up to the task and devised a storyline which wasn't just believable but one that was true to life and totally in tune with what's happening in education today - that is, the creation of privately funded schools by benefactors 'with an agenda'.
“As a result, the new series of Waterloo Road launches this Autumn as dramatic and exciting as before - and maybe even more so!”
Waterloo Road is a Shed Productions (part of the Shed Media Group) production for BBC One through BBC Scotland.