INVERCLYDE Now editor Jeremy Burrows joins a press tour of Waterloo Road School, Greenock.
Ironically, walking through the corridors of what was Greenock Academy, now that it is almost ready to become the backdrop for hit BBC drama Waterloo Road, the reality of what’s been going on hits home. It’s ironic because in some ways this isn’t reality – it’s a pretend school – but the scale of the production and what’s at stake are very real.
There is a noticeboard with an anti-bullying poster and signs for sports and activities; paintings by pupils on the walls. The classrooms are stocked with books – Shakespeare’s Complete Sonnets catches the eye. The corridors are bright and colourful and internal windows have been inserted. There are giant papier-mache vegetables positioned on a platform above the dining room door,
We stood in what is now Chalky’s maths classroom admiring the view and the equations posters.
Cast members Melanie Hill, Jaye Jacobs, Alec Newman and Philip Martin-Brown
Cast members posed with a cake celebrating the new term starting at Waterloo Road’s new school. (No one got to eat any of it – the cake was given to Ardgowan Hospice). The cake ceremony took place in the newly-enlarged foyer area which features distinctive coloured glass panels. The assembly hall has been shrunk a bit and some of the windows taken away as they were allowing too much light in. (We weren’t allowed to take photos of the sets as they weren’t finished yet.)
Once the press are gone, the work of producing 50 hours of TV over two years started in earnest, evidenced by the assembly hall which is set up with dozens of seats in a large square -- a bottle of water at each place -- for a script read-through.
Interestingly the show got its name because apparently most towns and cities in the UK have a Waterloo Road. No one seems to mind that there is no Waterloo Road around here. Obviously it’s a bit late to change the show’s title to Madeira Street.
A lot rests on the filming which starts next week. Will the viewers keep following the series in their millions as staff and pupils head to Scotland? The programme makers will be doing just fine if they live up to Greenock Academy’s motto -- ‘Hinc Vera Virtus’ -- ‘from this place comes true worth’.