High school pupils swap Wigan for Chester as they visit Hollyoaks set after winning national competition

Wigan high school pupils met stars from a popular TV drama during a behind-the-scenes tour after winning a national competition.

Youngsters from St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School visited the set of Channel 4’s Hollyoaks and spoke to several of the show’s actors and production team.

They had won the broadcaster’s inaugural 4Schools competition, an initiative to give young people an understanding of the careers open to them in television, film and digital.

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The pupils meet Hollyoaks actor Jamie Lomas

It was delivered in secondary schools through workshops, live assemblies, online resources and a national competition.

Earlier this year, schools were invited to “pitch a programme” to the channel’s judging panel, with pupils aged 11 to 14 challenged to devise a creative idea around the theme of “altogether different”, present a pitch and record a trailer.

The St Edmund Arrowsmith pupils – Francesco Foti, George Archer, Jack Stafford, Khaya Maninjwa and Noah Whitlow – came up with a futuristic comedy called One in Seven Billion.

Their English teacher Angela Powers said: “We are so proud of the boys, not only for coming up with this unique idea but also beating off stiff competition from schools across the country. I hope it shows children that a career in the TV and entertainment industry is achievable for all. Who knows what this win might inspire?”

Actor Richard Blackwood meets the successful pupils

Khaya Maninjwa, who directed the trailer, said: “Our idea was all about a world where people are born clever but lose their intelligence as they get older. Our antagonist is unique in this future world because he is just an average kid.

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“This win is amazing for us. We can’t find the right words to say how delighted we are.”

Catriona White, digital commissioning executive at Channel 4, who led the judging panel, said: “We had so many entries, with teams from Essex, Leeds, London and Wigan making our final shortlist. The quality of entries we saw blew us away. There were ideas for comedies, dramas, game shows and even reality TV shows.

“We were amazed by the quality of thinking and presentation from all the young people who entered. One in Seven Billion was such a fantastic original idea, and honestly, the team’s trailer had us all laughing out loud.”