Ashley Walters says directing 'Ackley Bridge' changed how he acted on 'Top Boy'

Ashley Walters has directed series five of Ackley Bridge. (Getty)
Ashley Walters has directed series five of Ackley Bridge. (Getty)

Ashley Walters has said the experience of directing his first TV series for Ackley Bridge made him realise he could be stressing out his own director on Top Boy.

The actor, who stars in gang drama Top Boy, went behind the camera for Channel 4's secondary school series and admitted it ended up changing him as an actor.

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Walters had previously directed a short film, but this was his first time leading a TV shoot and he said he was shocked to discover how much there was to consider.

He said: "It was appealing on paper and then when we started shooting I was asking myself every night, ‘What have I got myself into?’

Sunetra Sarker and Robert James-Collier star in Ackley Bridge. (Channel 4)
Sunetra Sarker and Robert James-Collier star in Ackley Bridge. (Channel 4)

"It was intense as a first job as a director, it was working with animals and some of those real serious topics, dealing with a vast main cast and then numerous amounts of supporting artists at various different locations. Sometimes it was quite unnerving.

"But I feel like I came out of it a stronger man, a stronger director and actually a better actor as well. Just seeing how much stress and pressure I may be putting on some of the directors that I’m working with as an actor. I went into this next season of Top Boy with a much more open heart."

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However, Ackley Bridge's stars, who include Sunetra Sarker and Robert James-Collier, have said that they were thrilled to have Walters on set.

Sarker, who plays Kaneez Paracha, said: "Because he was the new boy everyone was in awe of Top Boy being behind the camera."

Ashley Walters attends the World Premiere of
Ashley Walters is known for his role in Top Boy. (WireImage)

She added: "There was a great energy from Ashley being there. Everybody wanted to up their game, including myself."

James-Collier, who plays Martin Evershed, added: "Ashley just had a calm on set that he exuded. He’s just a dude, man.

"Also whenever he gave a note, which wasn’t often, it was bang on the money. He’s an actor himself so he knows what he’s doing. But he didn’t deliver it in a way where it was patronising. He did it in a collaborative way. It was just always right what he said. It was an absolute privilege to work with him.

"It was also great to see someone I can identify with because – and I’m not knocking it – a lot of directors I’ve met are RP speaking, upper-middle-class. Ashley’s a sound guy and everything he gets he deserves."

Ackley Bridge series five returns to Channel 4 on 11 July.

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