Jo Joyner has said Channel 4 school drama Ackley Bridge will become more gritty.
The actress believes the series has now established itself, and will now tackle more difficult issues.
Joyner, who plays Mandy Carter, said that with Channel 4’s backing and reputation, Ackley Bridge will continue to push boundaries.
The series, set in a multi-cultural Yorkshire mill town, has previously tackled racial tensions as cultures clash.
Joyner said: “The intention was always to be quite brave with Ackley Bridge and not as sedate as some of the school dramas, and having Channel 4 behind you, everyone goes, ‘well, it will be then, it’s Channel 4, it’s going to be a bit grittier’.
“Now we’ve had a couple of years to try that out and to ground it all… I think you can really tell that people are going, ‘right, let’s push it a little bit’.”
The new series, the third since the show launched in 2017, will be increasingly hard-edged, with issues of grooming entering storylines.
Joyner said: “We ought to address these things, because that’s what it was set out to do in the first place.”
The actress is joined by Downton Abbey star Rob James-Collier in the new series.
He has welcomed the chance to work with young adults on the show, and has enjoyed their lack of acting pretension.
James-Collier said: “Sometimes it can be a pretension and stuff that comes with acting as people get older, people can be cynical, but with young adults, they don’t care who you are, what you’ve done, what you’ve just come from, whether you’ve been to LA or not.
“They’re just like, we’re here now, we’re living life, we’re having a laugh, and we want you to have a laugh and just join in.
“They don’t care about anything else and that’s really refreshing.”
Ackley Bridge returns to Channel 4 on Tuesday, June 18