BROOKSIDE star Dean Sullivan, who plays Jimmy Corkhill in the Channel 4 series, wants to go back to the classroom soon - for real.
Dean, who taught for seven years in state schools before taking up acting and now plays a teacher in the soap, said he planned to return when he finishes his run. That would make him by far the most famous name to be wooed back to school as Education Secretary David Blunkett attempts to solve the recruitment crisis.
"I'm not one of the actors who think you go into a soap and it's a job for life. I'm very well aware of the fact that - in real life - I do have a teaching degree. That's always there and no one can take it away," he said at the launch of "Brookie Basics", the show's bid to offer a lifeline to its viewers who struggle to read or write.
"Maybe I'll combine the two - teaching and acting - and become a drama teacher in a college."
Dean, who has been in the soap for 14 years, said: "I always wanted to be a teacher and I loved teaching. I got into acting by accident really.
"I taught in two primary schools in Liverpool. The first was an inner-city school with a lack of resources, but very committed parents whose kids were willing to learn. I then got promotion and went to a school in a more middle-class area. I saw at first hand the effect that a lack of resources had."
In the soap ex-drug dealer Jimmy Corkhill managed to con his way into teaching - without a degree. Dean said: "I very much believe that teachers are born, not made. If you weren't born to be a teacher, you shouldn't really be there."
Under the Brookie Basics scheme, viewers will be put in touch with a network of 800 centres nationwide for help with reading and writing. In last Friday's episode, mother-of-four Niamh Musgrove, played by Barbara Drennan, admitted that she could not read.
Viewers can ring a helpline 0800 100900 and be put in touch with a tutor or a course.