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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Waterloo Road: characters

(L-R) Jonah Kirby (Lucien Laviscount), Jess Fisher (Linzey Cocker), Finn Sharkey (Jack McMullen), Lauren Andrews (Darcy Isa), Josh Stevenson (William Rush), Vicki MacDonald (Rebecca Ryan) and Ronan Burley (Ben Ryan Davies)

Episodes 1-10

New staff

Karen Fisher

Waterloo Road has a ballsy new head teacher – warm, but disciplined, mum Karen Fisher. Karen's top priority is encouraging well-rounded and socialised pupils and, to achieve this, she wants to create a safe and positive school environment where kids can leave their troubles behind and concentrate on their schooling.

But, alongside this, Karen's not afraid to discipline pupils who step out of line and her tough love policy means that exclusion is back on the table. She will do everything in her power to help a child, but won't tolerate her pupils using their personal lives as an excuse for disruptive behaviour.

Staff and pupils are divided over Karen's policy, and Waterloo Road will teach Karen a thing or two about patience and tolerance before the term is out. Karen is determined to rule by example and keep her work and home life separate, but she hides a tragic past which she and her family are struggling to come to terms with, and this will test her ethos over the course of the series.

Charlie Fisher (maths supply teacher)

Charlie is still an attractive man, but he has always lived in wife Karen's shadow. As her career flourished, Charlie found his stopped, and he became a supply teacher. He maintained his independence and the couple have always worked in different schools on his insistence.

Since the disappearance of their daughter, Bex, Karen and Charlie have grown apart and Charlie misses their old, more structured, home life. He has felt increasingly neglected by Karen and, whilst he cares deeply for his family, he feels he can't be in a loveless, sexless marriage any more.

Francesca (Cesca) Montoya (Spanish teacher)

Cesca has always found teaching Spanish easy – her mother is a native Spanish speaker who taught Cesca and her three sisters the language from year dot, so she's a natural.

Cesca teaches for the long holidays and a chance to travel the world. Highly attractive, she's very confident and is flirty even with the students. Her classes are bold and fun – Cesca loves clubbing but is bright and vivacious enough to run her classes the next day. She's young enough to burn the candle at both ends and does her job well.

She's compassionate and often finds herself drawn into other people's problems, a personality trait which will find her in hot water over the course of the term.

Marcus Kirby (geography teacher)

Marcus is a former academic and the driving force behind the Kirby family's previous decision to home-educate Jonah and Ruth. Marcus home-educated out of pride and ambition, quantifying life success as academic success and he's afraid that Waterloo Road will wipe out all of his brilliant work and harm his children's bright future.

As they start at the school Marcus is determined that his children will return to home-schooling but, when Karen brings him in for a review of their progress, Marcus is surprised to find her also offering him a job. She's seen his dynamism with pupils and wants to harness it at the school. Marcus has a long way to go in conquering his prejudices against the state system but no one can deny he's a great teacher.

Janeece Bryant (school secretary)

Janeece is back! Janeece is Karen's new school secretary and is five months' pregnant (after a one-night stand). She's partly taken the job for the maternity, but viewers soon see that Janeece isn't sure she's ready to be a mother.

As they say, opposites attract – and Janeece and Karen quickly bring a new energy to the head teacher's office. Whilst Janeece is a fearsome gatekeeper of Karen's time, she's not afraid of mercilessly nagging Karen to get to a meeting on time and finish her paperwork.

New pupils

Jessica Fisher (age 16, Year 12)

Jessica is head teacher Karen Fisher's middle child and youngest daughter. Jess is cool, sarky, confident and aware of how pretty and popular she is. She is full of contradictions – on the one hand involving herself in an adult relationship with a man who doesn't know she's a schoolgirl and on the other playing games to be popular and lying to her parents to keep their approval.

Harry "Piggy" Fisher (age 15, Year 11)

Karen's youngest child Harry, or "Piggy" as he soon gets called, is self-deprecatingly funny and very witty. He is the first to take the mickey out of himself because he's learnt to get in there before anyone else.

With his sister Jess he can give as good as he gets but, in school, he has learnt to mutter his snide remarks and witticisms under his breath. Harry is intuitive and the first to suspect his father of having an affair.

Jonah Kirby (age 16, Year 12)

Son of Marcus, Jonah had been chafing under the restrictive bonds of home-schooling for some time. Home-schooled by doting parents, who accept him for who he is, Jonah is always authentic. Unlike Jess, he is comfortable in his own skin.

His great sacrifice is letting go of his close relationship with sister, Ruth – she's not enough for him anymore. When Jonah meets Jess, he realises she is the girl of his dreams.

Ruth Kirby (age 13, Year 9)

Ruth is a "genius". Homeschooled from a young age by her father Marcus, precocious and witty, Ruth already has some A* GCSEs at the age of 13.

Her first experience of primary school was so traumatic that her parents pulled her out within days. Since then, her parents have "hothoused" her with one-to-one tuition and this is how her life has been up until she's enrolled in Waterloo Road.

Ruth has a nasty streak and enjoys using her intellect to put others down – she sees Waterloo Road as beneath her and isn't afraid to tell anyone. While Ruth has an IQ to envy, she doesn't have social skills and often disrupts classes because she feels bored. She's a prime target for bullying and taunting and Ruth can't seem to gel with anyone – not even the adults, who she's used to impressing.

Ronan Burley (age 16, Year 12)

Ronan is an entrepreneur – he comes from a working-class family, always looking for a business opportunity and is obsessed with earning money. He's inspired by Alan Sugar and is the kind of boy who has thousands saved in the bank from his various schemes and pocket money.

But Ronan's schemes mask a troubled home life and, when he decides to cut ties with his parents, viewers come to see why he's so desperate to make an independent life for himself. Ronan's father is part of one of Manchester's biggest gangs and has earmarked Ronan to follow in his footsteps. Ronan has some brave decisions to make in his effort to escape a criminal future.

Vicki MacDonald (age 16, Year 12)

Viewers first met Vicki in series five when she was a schoolgirl who was secretly working as a stripper in order to support her family. When Vicki turns up in series six, she instantly befriends Jess and the girls become best mates.

Vicki doesn't approve of Jess's promiscuity, however, and isn't afraid to say so. Vicki cares about her friends, is incredibly loyal and, above all, is a survivor. This series, she's battling to look after her father as his health deteriorates. It's a lonely existence, but her new friendship with Jess offers Vicki the chance to experience some of the family life she's so desperately missing.

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