Former EastEnders star Jo Joyner may be convincing as forthright headteacher Mandy Carter in the gritty school-based drama Ackley Bridge, but in real life she wouldn’t make the grade.
“Having kids talking all day would drive me mad!” laughs the 41-year-old mum of two.
“I’d either be screaming at them or be one of those teachers who’s like: ‘Oh, do what you want…’
"I’m not patient. My husband’s a teacher, though, and I do like reading and learning – I’m a bit boring like that, I could have been a perpetual student. I’d like to do A-levels.”
As we return to the troubled academy in Yorkshire for a 12-part second series, Mandy is cracking the whip as the Year 7 intake and exam results have plummeted.
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At the end of the first series, her affair with the school’s married sponsor, businessman Sadiq (Adil Ray), was revealed, and despite sports teacher Steve (Paul Nicholls) wading in to save Mandy’s career, matters are far from resolved.
“Things aren’t going too well in Mandy’s personal life or at school,” explains Jo.
“Later in the series we find out why Mandy’s so driven about education – it was a way to save herself.
“She’s passionate that these kids strive to do well, no matter what background they’re from. She’s not got the best background herself, and that’s possibly why she doesn’t take any excuses from people.”
Jo is currently filming a new series of sitcom Porters for Dave, before shooting another run of BBC One daytime drama Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators – so it’s unlikely she’ll have time to return to EastEnders as Tanya Cross any time soon.
“I gave EastEnders my Saturdays late last year [as Tanya returned at Christmas],” she says, “but I didn’t realise when they asked that it was going to be night shoots with rain machines, from 2am til 2pm – so it was my Saturdays and Sundays, and I swore I wouldn’t do it again.
“I don’t know what happened to Tanya – I don’t watch it. It could be that she’s been killed: it only takes a phone call, doesn’t it?
"I’d never say never, but I can tell you I won’t be back before next Easter as it’s full-on. Don’t hold your breath!”
NEW! Ackley Bridge Tuesday, 8pm, Channel 4
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