Jason Merrells plays Jack Rimmer in the BBC's Waterloo Road, the drama about a modern day, progressive comprehensive school. Jason, has, over the last few years, become one of the brightest lights on the British TV scene. We caught up with him recently to talk about the third season of the show.
What happened to Jack at the end of the last series?
"He was struggling to help save Izzie, who had been stabbed. He also saved the school from Jerry's Creationist ideology."
Do you think Jack's experiences have changed him at all?
"He is more determined than ever to turn Waterloo Road around and make it a success."
Do you think Jack's relationship with Davina will last, or is Steph still in with a chance?
"Steph will always be waiting in the wings for Jack, and he will occasionally take her on. He is however, head over heels with Davina and wants to spend the rest of his life with her."
Jack's still reeling from the death of Izzie – how does this impact on his day-to-day job?
"He blames himself for Izzie's death, believing he could have done more to save her. But, with the love and support of Davina, plus a large supply of anti-depressants, he can keep afloat."
How does Jack and Tom's relationship fare in this series?
"Jack feels guilty about the death of Izzie and truly wants to get on with Tom, although he's having none of it."
How does Jack and Eddie's relationship develop?
"Eventually, they develop a mutual respect for one another."
On the theme of inclusion this series, should pupils with different needs and abilities be educated within the mainstream system?
"Where possible, yes, I think they should."
Do you think it is important for television programmes to illustrate these issues, especially within education?
"Yes, I think it's important to bring these issues to the wider audience."
What is your favourite storyline this series?
"It has to be Jack's novel use of the school budget to attract gifted and talented kids, and his developing relationship with Davina."
What have you enjoyed most about recording Waterloo Road?
"The cast are great, and we have had a real laugh filming the series."
Do you have any other projects lined up?
"I'm going to be touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company – I'll be playing Antipholus of Syracuse, in The Comedy Of Errors."
What goes through your mind when you think of school?
"It was grim, actually, and I don't really miss it at all!"
Where did you go to school?
"I went to Buckhurst Hill County High School for boys – it was a comprehensive school."
Do you have any siblings and, if so, did you all go to the same school?
"I was at school with my brother; he was older, so it helped me a lot, initially."
What other memories do you have from school?
"I enjoyed my English classes, and bunking off, too!"
Did you have any inspiring teachers at school?
"My English teacher, Mr Patrick."
Since playing the role of Jack, do you have a better understanding of teaching and the education system?
"Yes, I have much more respect for teachers now – I think it's a very difficult job."
Would you ever consider a career in teaching?
"No, I don't think so. It doesn't appeal to me as a job."
If you were allowed to take a souvenir away from Waterloo Road, what would it be?
"Jack has a small desktop figurine of a Spartan athlete that has been on his desk since the very beginning, and it has become a bit of a running joke. So,
I'd like to take that."
Are you enjoying living and working around Manchester while filming Waterloo Road?
"Yes, I am, and it has become my second home. I've been to Old Trafford and the Pennines, too."