Waterloo Road series three
Jason Merrells plays head teacher Jack Rimmer
Jack Rimmer, who is in his late thirties, is Waterloo Road's hard man head teacher. He is a complete pragmatist and doesn't care how things are done, as long as they work.
Jack has found love with Davina Shackleton, who was previously his PA and is now a teaching assistant. It's with Davina's love and support that Jack is just managing to hold things together – he's been struggling to cope following the murder of Izzie Redpath and secretly blames himself for her death.
Jack cares deeply for Waterloo Road and this, together with his drive and determination to improve exam results, leads Jack into taking a high-risk approach to secure the school's future success.
Neil Morrissey plays Deputy Head Eddie Lawson
Newly-appointed Deputy Head and mathematics teacher Eddie Lawson is a charismatic and inspirational teacher, in his early forties, with a genuine passion for the job. Eddie has a natural authority and the pupils know not to cross him, but, underneath, he is warm and self-deprecating.
High in emotional intelligence, Eddie's a natural people person who enjoys the status and reputation of "Mr Fixit". His desire to do things by the book, however, soon brings him into conflict with Jack – who has a reputation for cutting corners.
Eddie has a down-to-Earth approach to teaching, but he's also not afraid of change. He's a strong believer in inclusion, which Waterloo Road is keen to embrace, and an expert on vocational education – believing it can really deliver the goods.
Eddie's own experience at school has given him a natural empathy with the "difficult kids" and he can handle himself in the classroom. Communicating with adolescents is also something Eddie does with exceptional skill.
Eddie is now single, following a recent divorce, but, with the arrival of a new member of staff, sparks are soon starting to fly.
Jason Done plays English teacher Tom Clarkson
Tom's in his early thirties and is a fairly laid-back teacher who is popular with both staff and pupils – especially the girls. However, Tom is putting a brave face on things following the loss of his partner, Izzie Redpath, who was murdered on school grounds. He firmly blames Jack for her death and their relationship is becoming seriously strained.
Tom is playing single dad to Chlo and Mika and is determined to take his responsibilities seriously, whilst trying desperately hard to ensure they have as normal a life as possible after losing their mum. But, to add to Tom's problems, Chlo and Donte tie the knot behind his back – which is just the start of a desperate journey for Tom and the girls when their worlds come crashing down around them.
Denise Welch plays Steph Haydock –
Head of French and Head of Pastoral Care
Steph is a hopeless teacher in her early forties. She has no control over her classes and the kids have no respect for her. Following the departure of Kim Campbell, Steph has been promoted to Head of Pastoral Care – a role she intends giving her full attention. However, it's not long before she finds herself way out of her depth.
She tries desperately to maintain a bubbly, up-beat attitude for Jack, with whom she considers herself in love – despite the fact Jack is totally head-over-heels with Davina. In true Steph style, and leaving no stone unturned, Steph directs her attentions to new drama and music teacher, Matt Wilding.
Philip Martin Brown plays Grantly Budgen – Head of English
Grantly Budgen is nearing retirement age and has had many years to perfect his cynical disenchantment with the teaching profession. He's slightly scruffy, tired and lacks conviction about anything.
Grantly wants life on easy street and is distinctly not impressed with Waterloo Road's inclusion policy. He is, however, delighted when new rookie English teacher Jasmine Koreshi arrives, and is happy to foist his work upon her in the name of "development".
But life gets tough for Grantly when his love of gambling and problems at home are exposed – which soon spiral out of control and spill over into his work life.
Christine Tremarco plays Teaching Assistant Davina Shackleton
Davina is sexy, sassy and much smarter than her knockout looks would have you believe. She's conscientious, professional and ambitious. She used to be Jack's PA but has since taken on the role of teaching assistant.
Davina has a natural talent for teaching and, when inclusion pupil and Aspberger's sufferer Karla Bentham joins Waterloo Road, Davina's sensitive approach, combined with the ability and patience to understand her needs, soon has Karla onside – and, with Davina's encouragement, Karla begins to shine.
Davina lives with Jack, and is truly in love and looking forward to a great future with him. She provides him with a huge amount of support and strength, until Jack foolishly steps over the line.
Chris Greene plays Matt Wilding – Music and Drama Teacher
A talented musician, boyishly good-looking Matt (26) is keen to impress in his first teaching post. He is prepared to work round the clock at things that really interest him, such as the first musical production at Waterloo Road, but he will do anything to avoid the boring chores of teaching.
Matt is fit, stylish and the new heart-throb for the female pupils – and for Steph Haydock. However, what they don't know is that Matt has been with Colin, his boyfriend, for three years, but still refers to him as his "housemate".
Matt is keen for his sexuality not to define his life and insists it's not so much that he's hiding it, but that he doesn't see the point in telling anyone, either – no-one goes around announcing they're straight, after all.
And there's that little sticking point of being openly gay in a school – the last thing he wants is snotty-nosed little kids screaming at him in the corridor.
Shabana Bakhsh plays newly-qualified English teacher Jasmine Koreshi
Attractive Jasmine (23) is a government recruiting agent's dream – bright, smiley and enthusiastic – and her face could easily adorn a glossy recruitment poster. However, convent-educated Jasmine is one of life's natural self-doubters – a condition which has followed her from childhood. She has never had a serious boyfriend – a surprise, given the number of doe-eyed men in the Waterloo Road staffroom.
Her manipulative parents can't hide their disappointment in her choice of career, however, and it's a source of regular family feuds. On her first day at Waterloo Road, Grantly bets Tom £10 that Jasmine will be gone by lunchtime as she is literally shaking with nerves before each lesson.
However, Jasmine's secret weapon in her battle against the nerves is her startling ability to assume the persona of a confident teacher, and she quickly wins the doubters round and establishes herself as a firm favourite with the kids. Jasmine also becomes good friends with Davina – they share a sense of humour and swiftly become each other's confidantes.
Eva Pope plays new Head Teacher Rachel Mason (from episodes 7-20)
Rachel is young, attractive, sassy – and is considered by the LEA to be one of the best head teachers there is. She is an innovator and has never been afraid to take risks to deliver quality education to the poorest sectors of society – she has a passion for transforming the lives of working-class kids.
On arriving at Waterloo Road, Rachel hits the ground running and is keen to bring in radical new initiatives, shaping the curriculum in order to equip the most difficult and disadvantaged kids with the vocational and life skills they need to find employment and survive in the outside world.
Rachel has a quick wit and makes decisions quickly and decisively – but prefers to use her powers of persuasion to win people round rather than barking orders. She can play people, but is a strong believer in letting people think they came to their own decisions.
Rachel soon gains a reputation for getting staff to go the extra mile and, after initial teething problems, forms a strong professional relationship with new Deputy Head Eddie Lawson – the chemistry between them is revealed through their sparring banter.
Rachel likes solutions rather than problems but she backs her staff to the hilt, if necessary. She can be offhand with inspectors, advisers and anyone else unwilling, as she sees it, to get their hands dirty.
Rachel likes to keep her private life private and rarely socialises with staff – partly to avoid blurring hierarchical lines – but also for a more compelling reason – she has a past that she is desperate to keep under wraps.
At university, Rachel gained a reputation as a good-time girl and, having racked up huge debts, she became involved with a mystery figure who introduced her to an insalubrious lifestyle – a period in her life she is so ashamed of and would rather change her identity than admit to.
Katie Griffiths plays Chlo Grainger
Chlo is a bright girl who wants to do well at school, but life has been traumatic for her, Mika and Tom, who are all coming to terms with the loss of her mum, Izzie – who was murdered on school grounds.
Although Tom has stepped in as dad, it's her relationship with Donte that has grown and she's determined to marry him – with or without Tom's blessing. Against Tom's wishes, Chlo marries Donte but it's not long before she's questioning her decision.
Chlo's world soon turns upside down when she is unfaithful to Donte, and this is the beginning of a dangerous journey which leads to a trail of broken hearts.
Lauren Drummond plays Mika Grainger
Mika is more fiery and opinionated than her sister Chlo. She is bright and works hard. Since losing her mum, she feels closer to Tom and slowly adjusts to their new life together.
Mika is head-over-heels in love with Brett and they start off the new term very much a couple. However, when Mika finds out her sister has slept with Brett, her world collapses, and she refuses to forgive Chlo.
Adam Thomas plays Donte Charles
Donte is tough, mouthy and arrogant and hates authority, but he is crazy about his girlfriend, Chlo, and delighted when they get married. He desperately wants to prove that he can be a great husband. He is in for a shock, however, when he discovers Chlo has been unfaithful and, in true Donte style, takes revenge in the only way he knows how...
Tom Payne plays Brett Aspinall
Brett is good looking in an arty, "Franz Ferdinand" way and has a brilliant brain – when he decides to use it. His background has given him an accent and an attitude that sets him apart from the other pupils and, with his easy confidence, he is never short of friends and admirers – amongst pupils and teachers alike. Brett adores his girlfriend Mika, but disaster strikes when he falls for Chlo, Mika's newly-wed sister.
Chelsee Healey plays Janeece Bryant
Janeece is a loudmouth and is not afraid to start a fight if someone is annoying her. She can be seen as a bit of a bully, but is fiercely loyal to her friends. She does have a soft centre, although most don't get to see it.
Janeece is a bright girl, but laziness and not seeing the point in education caused her to fail her GCSEs. Janeece has a heart of gold, however, but a mind as malleable as putty.
Craig Fitzpatrick plays Lewis Seddon
Former pupil Lewis Seddon returns to Waterloo Road working in the school's kitchen, assisting the new cook Candice. Maxine hopes his new responsibilities will be the making of him.
Ellie Paskell plays Maxine Barlow
Maxine dropped out of school as soon as she could claim benefit, and planned to spend her days at the park with her mates and her money on the recreational drug habit she had developed.
Most of her friends deserted her, but there was a remarkable turnaround in her fortunes when Steph Haydock agreed she could stay with her. Maxine has returned to school and is making progress, although she is easily led astray by Janeece and her part-time boyfriend, Lewis Seddon.
Jessica Baglow plays Karla Bentham
Karla is a 14-year-old girl with Asperger's Syndrome and cuts a pathetic figure Bullied from the moment she set foot in school, she's a child badly let down by the system which failed to diagnose her condition, instead writing her off as a truculent troublemaker.
Before her arrival at Waterloo Road, Karla was excluded from three schools and the Bentham family eventually cracked under the pressure – with her father walking out on his wife and daughter, unable, or unwilling, to cope any longer.
Karla was removed from her last school when her mother, Annette, was given a choice: find another school or face permanent exclusion. She just prays that Waterloo Road will be the place for Karla to realise her potential.
Karla finds it difficult to make friends and is a natural victim – her literal interpretation of simple instructions has always been the fuel for spiteful pranks and easy laughs. Karla exhibits a few psychological conditions, most notably Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and depression – they have worsened since her parents' recent separation.
She doesn't understand affection and can't deal with physical contact – something which breaks her mum's heart when Karla shies away from her embraces. Karla is very intelligent and, with the right understanding and guidance, could do well at school.
Tachia Newall plays Bolton Smilie
Named after the town of his conception – in the back of a Transit van – 14-year-old Bolton is a thorn in the side of his teachers. When he does turn up to class he's generally empty-handed and disruptive, often lasting only half the lesson before he's packed off to the cooler.
More often than not, Bolton doesn't bother coming to lessons – preferring, instead, to roam the corridors and spraying his graffiti "tag" on the walls. His absence from class is absolutely fine by most of the teachers, who get a hell of a lot more done without him.
Bolton is not a violent kid – violence takes too much energy – but he's a "smart alec", pain-in-the-neck. Grantly is constantly telling him to "take your hood down, it's not raining inside". He would have been expelled long ago if the LEA hadn't issued strict instructions to get the exclusion rates down. At home, Bolton rules the roost and his single mother, Candice, is at her wit's end and will do anything to keep him in school.
Lauren Thomas plays Aleesha Dillon
New girl Aleesha (14) is a very bright student with a quick wit and a cruel sense of humour. She's also a great actress – though perhaps not quite as good as she thinks – and has a fairly good singing voice.
Aleesha and her new best mate, Danielle, form an intimidating clique. They dress similarly – customising their uniforms as much as they can get away with – have their own catchphrases and feel superior to most of the other pupils.
Most of their laughs come from a delight in others' faults or misfortunes, and though they don't see themselves as school bullies – having no interest in violence or acquisition of lunch money – they're just as capable of making their peers' lives a misery.
Aleesha's mum, Angela, left college when she met her now ex-husband and has always regretted not finishing her education. Since the divorce, five years ago, she has returned to work and has a job as a bank clerk.
She has high aspirations for her daughter – a university education and a well-paid career – and this made her the ideal candidate to be poached from her previous school for Jack's bursary scheme.
Lucy Dixon plays Danielle Harker
Aleesha's best mate, 14-year-old Danielle, is bright but has to work for the grades that come more easily to Aleesha. She is opinionated, arrogant and cares very little about what anyone who isn't in her clique thinks.
She is pretty, image-obsessed and takes a great deal of time and care over her appearance – her nails are always immaculate and she wouldn't be seen dead at school without her hair being in pristine condition.
Danielle has an answer for everything – her tongue is sharp and often cruel. She's got a vicious sense of humour and delights in other people's misfortunes – partly because it helps to fuel her feeling of superiority.