TWO young Bradford actors swapped one classroom for another, after landing roles in new school drama Ackley Bridge.

Maariah Hussain, 17, and Sam Bottomley, 15, both attend the Bradford-based Yorkshire School of Acting, but met for the first time on the set of the Channel 4 drama.

Ackley Bridge is set in a Yorkshire mill town, home to divided white and Asian populations. The school systems are also segregated but, as two formerly isolated comprehensives are merged into a new academy, Ackley Bridge College, lives and cultures collide. The much talked about new series, starring Jo Joyner, Paul Nicholls, Sunetra Sarker and Adil Ray, was created by Ayub Khan Din, who wrote East is East. Inspired by TV's Educating Yorkshire, Ackley Bridge is filmed in Halifax.

Maariah, who attends Bradford Grammar School, plays 16-year-old Alya Nawaz, described as "super intelligent, fiercely righteous, and a bit of a mean girl". Underneath, she's as insecure as any teenage girl. She has ambitions to run her own business, like her father, but struggles to make him see she's capable of it.

Sam plays Jordan Wilson, 15, who is badly behaved and not fazed by getting into trouble. He’s bright and a talented artist, but thinks school is pointless.

"Maariah has been working with me for two years in our class at Bradford Playhouse," said Matt Zina, principal of the Yorkshire Acting School. "She has gone from strength to strength and is extremely talented. This is Maariah’s first role, she has taken to it like a duck to water. She has loved being part of a major TV series and was excited to be working with some of the bi-name actors involved.

"Sam is such an exciting young actor, he has had major roles in TV dramas such as Jericho, Wolf Hall and Rockets Island. He came to me a few years ago, working one-on-one on acting, accents and auditions."

Added Mr Zina: "Both Maariah and Sam met each other for the first time on set and realised their connection through the Yorkshire School of Acting! I'm extremely happy to see young people from Bradford achieving national acclaim.

"There is something very special about acting talent that comes from Bradford."

Ayub Khan Din said: "When you see programmes about school, it wasn’t until Educating Yorkshire and Educating Essex that you really got to see young Asian schoolkids and the problems they were facing. I watched Educating Yorkshire, it was one of the things that convinced me I wanted to be part of the project."