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Schools, Camera, Action! Young actors get to appear on the big screen

By Hannah Ingram

Budding young actors from across the North were famous for the night as they starred on the big screen in Manchester this week.

In association with BBC North and BBC One’s Waterloo Road, four schools from the North were selected to make three-minute ‘mini episodes’ in their own school.

After a week of editing, the films were shown at the Odeon Cinema in the city’s Printworks on Tuesday night, to schoolchildren and Waterloo Road cast members alike.

Secondary schools from Preston, Gateshead, Sheffield and Grimsby showcased the talent the North has to offer, with each given a brief to base their episode on.

Stars from the upcoming series of Waterloo Road, Robson Green and Mark Benton, were impressed by the pupils’ work.

“You have to ask the audience to care about your character and I really did,” said Robson. “They were given the opportunity and they have excelled.”

“The acting was tremendous,” added Mark. “I loved the complete stories in such a short space of time.”

Each school worked closely with Waterloo Road’s production company, Shed, to write, direct and film their own episodes.

Eileen Gallagher, Chief Executive of Shed Productions, said: “I really hope this inspires the children to take their dreams forward.”

Margaret Burgin, BBC Outreach producer for the North, created the idea to work within schools.

“We wanted to celebrate the fact that Waterloo Road is made in the North,” she said. “Scriptwriting is really popular in schools so we thought it would be good to get a scriptwriting project going.”

She added: “It’s quite difficult to get good performances out of kids in such a short space of time because they’re too nervous.

“But the children are being themselves in a way, and they’re at home because they’re in their own school.

“I was amazed and wanted to see episode two of all of those.”

Peter Salmon, Director BBC North, said: “I’ve recently seen Made In Dagenham but I’m more interested to see Made In The North.”

He added: “With the BBC’s big move to the North, we’re hoping to end up with lots more dramas based here, as this is an area teeming with storytellers and writers.”

Sheffield’s Meadowhead School presented a head boy and girl faced with peer pressure to make the right decision.

Meadowhead pupil Dan said: “We’ve all really enjoyed the experience and worked very hard to make it a success.”

“We were really proud to present our work and hope that everyone enjoyed it,” added Rose, a fellow pupil.

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