Ackley Bridge season four kicks off with a brand new format and a cast of both fresh faces and familiar favourites.
Robyn Cara (Life) plays central character Kayla, a loveable teenager who “attempts to navigate both sides” of her mixed heritage, according to Channel 4.
The award-winning secondary school drama is set in a Yorkshire mill town, and features a new Acting Headteacher this season (played by Robert James-Collier).
Fans have been eagerly anticipating news of the show’s return since the end of season three in summer 2019.
As was the case with many programmes, COVID-19 restrictions resulted in production delays which meant that the planned release of Ackley Bridge’s fourth season in September 2020 was pushed back.
Here’s what we know about Ackley Bridge season four.
When is Ackley Bridge season 4’s release date?
New episodes began on Channel 4 Monday 19th April at 6pm, and the episodes are stripped over a fortnight. However, instead of the 60-minute slices of classroom antics that viewers have enjoyed so far, the drama will now play out across 10 daily 30-minute episodes over two weeks.
Also, Ackley Bridge will now be airing at an earlier teatime slot, instead of its usual 8pm placement.
Ackley Bridge season 4 cast: Who’s returning?
*Warning: the rest of this article contains spoilers for season three of Ackley Bridge*
The end of season three meant the closing of chapters for several characters. After the shocking death of Missy Booth (Poppy Lee Friar) in episode two following a car accident, we also said goodbye to series favourite Nasreen Paracha (Amy-Leigh Hickman) as she left for university.
Hickman’s performance as Nas has garnered widespread praise since the show’s debut in 2017, particularly for her nuanced portrayal of a young Muslim woman realising her lesbian identity and coming out to her family and friends.
Having left to pursue other opportunities such as a role in BBC One’s Our Girl, Hickman wrapped up her time in the Ackley Bridge cast with a win in the ‘Actor’ category at the Royal Television Society Yorkshire awards in November 2020.
However, it’s not all change at Ackley, as plenty of familiar faces will be back – teachers Kaneez Paracha (Sunetra Sarker), Sue Carp (Charlie Hardwick) and Hassain Hussein (Hareet Deol) are returning, along with fellow staff members Martin Evershed (Rob James Collier), headteacher Mandy Carter (Jo Joyner) and Rashid Hyatt (Tony Jayawardena).
We’ll also see the return of some of our favourite Ackley pupils, Sam (Megan Parkinson), Chloe (Fern Deacon), Rukhi (Phoebe Tuffs-Berry), Spud (Zara Salim), Hayley (Cody Ryan), and Razia (Nazmeen Kauser).
What can viewers expect in Ackley Bridge season 4?
The series has already tackled some weighty topics including teenage pregnancy, death and cultural tensions.
In season four, viewers will be introduced to Kayla (Robyn Cara) and Fizza (Yasmin Al Khudhairi), best friends who are existing pupils at Ackley Bridge, now navigating the educational and emotional pressures that come with getting older.
We’ll also soon meet Johnny (Ryan Dean), a new student at the school. He’s brimming with confidence and charm, and will be sure to stir up the drama.