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29 October 2014
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Jason Merrells plays Jack Rimmer

School-based drama Waterloo Road comes to BBC ONE, Thursday 9 March 2006

Jason Merrells plays Jack Rimmer

Give a description of the character you play:


Jack is hastily promoted as the new headmaster at Waterloo Road following the nervous breakdown of the previous one. He is divorced and disillusioned but still commands some respect by his gruffness.


Describe your character in three words:


Bullish, frazzled and redeemable.


What do you like about Jack?


I like the fact that Jack has flaws, flaws are more interesting to play generally. Jack is a good man at heart.


What do you like least about Jack?


His smoking.


What are Jack's life values and do these differ from your own?


Jack tells himself he wants things smooth - the quiet life. But underneath he wants to make a difference. Too much comfort makes me uncomfortable.


How are you similar to Jack?


We look similar and share a collar size.


Does your character have love interest?


Apart from a quick slice with Steph which is a mistake, I don't know. Jack is seduced by Steph, but realises immediately this is a mistake.


Why do you think they are attracted to this person?


A moment of madness.


Which character at Waterloo Road does Jack relate to best?


Jack initially relates best to Kim whose much more motherly style of teaching he secretly admires.


But soon this includes Andrew all three are determined to take on the school and make it better.


Do you think you would make a good headmaster?


I admire teachers enormously but I'm not sure I'd have the dedication.


What school did you go to?


Buckhurst Hill Country High School for boys (Comprehensive).


Which aspect of school did you enjoy the most?


Finding some escape for it - it was tough.


What was your favourite subject?


Art and English.


What was your least favourite subject?




What were your school reports like?


I can't really remember my school reports. I am sure I would have been described as being lazy quite frequently though.


Did you have to wear a uniform? If so what was it like?


Dark blue.


Did you have an inspiring teacher?


My English teacher, Mr Patrick was really inspiring. He showed me through literature how everything is connected; arts, politics, culture etc.


Have you ever had the opportunity to teach?


I have been able to give some drama classes which I really enjoyed doing.


Do you think you could teach?


I think I could teach certain things. I like to direct which is not dissimilar still.


What sort of student were you?




Have you continued to study in any form?


I study life drawing and I love reading. Life is study for me and think you should never stop learning.


How did you do at school?


Five O Levels and Three A Levels.


Any funny or interesting school days stories?


In the first week, Donaghue, the evil school skinhead was lining up little first years to be whipped with sticks and generally abused.


I was only saved at the last minute by one of his henchman recognising me as "Little Merrells". My brother was in the third year so I got to watch all my contemporaries get mildly tortured thanks to my 'bro' being a bit of a 'face'.


Do you still keep in touch with anyone you were at school with?


There are four of us who are still close.


Have you ever been a victim of bullying?


I wasn't a specific victim of bullying but I did have a couple of nasty fights but mostly managed to avoid it.


Any words of advice to kids who are victims of bullying?


If you can stand up for yourself do. If you can't, run.


If you have kids of your own do you take a keen interest in their education?


Of course.


Were you good at sport at school?




How do you keep in shape nowadays?


I run.


What do you think about school dinners?


It's crazy to feed kids worse food than we feed ourselves.


Where were you born and brought up?


East London/Essex.


Where do you live now?


North East, London.


If you had to teach what subject would you like to teach most?




What were your first impressions of arriving at the Waterloo Road set?


It was surprising to see how authentic the location was, quite grim but perfect for the story. It didn't really remind me of my school.


Do you see similarities between Waterloo Road and a school you know or attended?


I went to a comprehensive so yes, but the buildings were quite different.


Describe the staff room at Waterloo Road?


A room with chairs.


Do you think Waterloo Road is a realistic portrayal of a school?


Yes. It deals with serious social and educational issues. The school isn't a convenient backdrop, it's an integral part of the story.


How did you spend your school holidays?


Hanging around with friends, reading.


Did you have a Saturday job?


I worked on Saturdays at Wimpy for a while.


Do you have brothers and sisters and were you at school together?


I was at a school with my big brother. He was a godsend in many situations but annoying in others.


Did you ever go on a school trip?


France bangers mayhem.


Were you naughty at school?


I had my fair share of detention and I got the slipper and the cane a couple of times.


What was the worst thing you did and did you get caught?


We had a school disco in '83 which turned into a riot. We never had another! We all thought we were little punks at the time.


What age did you leave school?


I left school at 18 and went to art school.


What was your first ever job?


My first job after school was labouring.


What was your first professional acting role?


Oliver in 'As You Like It'.


Were you a member of the drama club etc at school?


On weekends I attended Sylvia Young's.


What role are you best known for?


The last one probably - Gavin in Cutting It.


What is your favourite storyline coming up and why?


I like Jack's journey of self re-discovery. He becomes the teacher he wanted to be when he started out.


What have you enjoyed most about recording Waterloo Road?


Working with 200 kids on the large scenes is quite a baptism of fire.


Have you had a holiday this year?


I went to France with my family.


Did you make any New Years resolutions this year?


Yes, no more Mr Nice Guy.


Do you support a football team?


Arsenal nominally. My interest in football waxes and wanes.


Have you any long term goals or ambitions for the future?


Make more of my own work and write some more.





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