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Michael Byrne
Soaps-waterloo-road-alec-newman-michael-byrne.jpg
Portrayed by Alec Newman
First Appearance Series 7 Episode 11
Last Appearance Series 8 Episode 28 (Journey's End)
Cause/Reason Resigned after School handed over to the Local Authority
Born 27th January 1972
Occupation Science Teacher
Headteacher
Relationships
Mother Katherine Byrne (Deceased)
Father Billy Byrne (Deceased)
Romances Linda Radleigh
Sian Diamond
Christine Mulgrew
Headteacher
Series 7 Episode 11 - Series 8 Episode 26
Deputy Tom Clarkson
Sian Diamond (S7E11-S8E19)
Nikki Boston (S8E21-S8E28)
Preceded by Karen Fisher
Succeeded by Nikki Boston (acting)
Series 8 Episode 28 - Series 8 Episode 28
Deputy Tom Clarkson
Nikki Boston
Preceded by Nikki Boston (acting)
Succeeded by Christine Mulgrew

Michael Byrne is an award-winning, dynamic, media-friendly ‘Super Head’ teacher (former science teacher) who has earned himself a fearless and high profile reputation in the media after famously surviving a vicious stabbing attack by a student. Rather than turning his back on teaching, he’s dedicated his life to successfully improving failing schools through a promise to never let the past stand in his way.

Like many of Waterloo Road’s pupils, Michael grew up on a rough council estate, raised by a single mum struggling to provide the right levels of emotional and material support. He quickly fell into a life of truancy and gang-fighting. Facing a future of unemployment and crime, it wasn’t until he was challenged to aim higher by one particularly inspiring and persistent teacher that he finally decided to turn his life around. It’s exactly this kind of inspiration that Michael has spent the rest of his life trying to provide at the schools he’s worked at and gives him the belief that every pupil has the potential to achieve regardless of their background. Michael went directly into teacher training from university and with a head for heights, gained his first role as headteacher by the time he was thirty-two.

But his success doesn’t come without hard work, with Michael often working a 16 hour day. Like most workaholics, he needs to let off steam and as hard as Michael works, he plays; often drinking late into the night. Despite being a self-confessed commitment-phobe, this doesn’t stop women being drawn by Michael’s powerful charisma; as far as Michael’s concerned, let them get too close and they’ll try to change him. Michael finally embarked upon a relationship with colleague Christine Mulgrew but will he find the courage to commit? He didn't, and broke up with Christine on the same day he resigned as head. He did, however, recommend Christine as his successor, despite her inexperience in headship.

Plot

Series 7

Michael arrives as the new Head Teacher in Episode 11, the previous episode showing how a school inspection ended in proof that the school needs improvement. He brings Jez and Sian Diamond along with him, as the new P.E. and Science teachers. He also brings along former Waterloo Road music teacher Matt Wilding

He helps Phoenix and Harley Taylor after their only carer, their nan, passes away. He attempts to reunite them with their father so that they have someone to take care of them.

His role as headmaster is threatened when an ex-pupil of his, Wayne, turns up on the premises. The two of them get into a fight and Michael leaves him injured in the road after Wayne is hit by a van. He hides the CCTV footage that proved that he was there at the time, but doesn't know that Phoenix Taylor was present and captured it on his phone. 

His professional relationship with Linda is tainted when she starts to show an interest in him. Sian panics and tells Michael when Linda shows signs that she knows about their affair. In a fit of jealousy, she agrees to go out with Daniel Chalk, who has a crush on her.

Michael and Sian spend the night at a hotel, and wake up late, causing her husband Jez to become suspicious. He checks Sian's GPS and discovers that she was lying about her location, causing him to confront her about it and for her to confess the truth about her affair.

On the last day of term, Michael finds a threatening note on the window of his car, after what has happened with his affair with Sian and his run-in with Wayne, he doesn't suspect who may have left it. Grantly informs him that Jez plans to leave an official complaint about Michael referring to his affair with Sian. Jez takes his two children, Zack and Madi out of class to take them to Ireland, and during that time Wayne slips into the school, having escaped from the hospital. At the end of the episode, Michael is run over by Linda, who tells him they could have been good together and this was the end.

When returning for the next term, Jez is the prime suspect for Michael's hit-and-run, but Chalky begins to suspect that Linda may be behind it. Michael eventually figures out that Linda was behind his hit-and-run and she is arrested.

By the end of the next school term, the school is going to be closed down and students have to have found places at alternative schools. When Michael discovers that a lot of his students have not attained these places, and talks to Lorraine about taking a handful of pupils with them during their move to Scotland. Lorraine wishes to reopen the school in Scotland, and advanced on Michael to take the role of headteacher after he taught her whilst she was still in school. The students and teachers who are making the move are gathered together and go to see the new school. They stop to take a photo by the sign at the England-Scotland border, when an out of control lorry driven by a drunk driver crashes into them, killing Denzil Kelly and leaving Tariq Siddiqui wheelchair-bound.

Series 8

On the first day at the new school, Michael discovers that a pair of runaways have tried to enrol at the school. He offers Jade accommodation at the school house, but not her boyfriend Drew. Drew is rather protective over Jade, so furiously rejects Michael's offer. After Michael makes plans to keep Jade and Drew separated and Drew finds out, he steals a cleaver from the school kitchens and makes his way to Michael's office where he threatens Michael and threatens to hurt himself. Michael is able to defuse the situation and Drew is arrested and taken to a psychiatric hospital.

One of Waterloo Road's rival schools, Havelock High, have been struggling with the amount of pupils they have since the opening of the school in Scotland. The headteacher Gerard Findlay causes some problems with Michael, and he attempts to make peace with him. This means that when Grantly's car is graffitied by local Havelock kids, Michael urges him not to confront their headteacher. The headteacher finds out about Michael's past and sets about tacking up newspaper articles of it around the school. Lorraine is horrified as the story could have dire consequences for the school, portraying the headteacher as violent after he attacked his own father. Sian pursues the matter and discovers that Michael's father used to beat both him and his mum, and so he attacked him in self-defence.

After hearing what had happened, Sian makes contact with Michael's father, Billy. She attempts to get the two to contact each other, but is unsuccessful at first, as Michael refuses and is angered by her contacting his father. Meanwhile, Findlay is spreading false rumours that Michael had assaulted him.

As a sign of good will, Havelock and Waterloo Road hold an inter-school competition. Havelock's star pupil, Liberty, reveals that it was her that leaked bad information about the school and pleads with Audrey for a place at Waterloo Road. Michael does not agree that this would be a good idea, considering the bad spirits that they have experienced with the school. 

Sian still continues to have regular contact with Michael's father, Billy, and discovers that he may only have a short amount of time left to live. He urges her not to tell Michael about his condition, wanting him to visit out of forgiveness and not out of pity. After Michael yet again refuses to visit his father, Sian blurts out the news of his condition in a final attempt to try and make peace between the two before it is too late.

After dealing with Morag's family issues, Michael decides to finally confront his own. Whilst visiting his father, he is requested to help his father commit suicide as he no longer wants to live in this pain. Sian is disgusted by this plea, and even more so when she discovers that Michael is seriously considering doing it.

Lorraine has started to steal Michael's secretary, Janeece, causing problems at home and at her Waterloo Road job. Janeece decides to quit Waterloo Road, and so Lorraine hires Sonya to be his new secretary, revealing that they are in fact sisters.

At the end of the term, Michael decides to help his father with his pleas; he helps him open a bottle of lethal medication which will end Billy's life. Not everyone agrees with his decision, especially Sian who had started to consider herself close with Billy. Michael's future as a headteacher is jeopardised due to this.

When he returns to school for the next term, it is revealed that he is on bail and awaiting trial for the death of his father. Not all of the teachers agree with his decision and it casts doubt on Michael's leadership qualities, one of the teachers that do support him, however, is Christine. He confides in her about his court case and the pair of them start to become closer.

He and Christine start to become even closer, and he asks her out on a date. However, when her ex-husband Joe comes to the school to see Connor, Michael doesn't listen to her pleas for help. He doesn't want their relationship to be known within the school, and so Christine turns to vodka. After being drunk in school, Sian advises Michael that he should fire Christine and not let his personal feelings for her get in the way. When he goes to speak to Christine, he discovers that the reason she went so off the wall was because Joe wasn't actually Connor's father and that Connor was conceived after she was raped by Joe's father. 

Imogen learns the truth that Connor was the one that started the fire in school that left her face scarred, Christine had been the one to take the blame for him. She threatens Connor to tell Michael, otherwise she will tell him herself and not see him as a decent person. Christine begs Michael to find a way to make it so that Connor isn't charged with arson.

Michael and Christine's relationship hit crossroads when he overhears Connor discussing with his friends that he had found a pregnancy test in his bathroom. He talks to Christine about it, who tells him that it was a false alarm, but judging by his reaction he isn't ready for commitment. Connor and Imogen set it upon themselves to get Michael and Christine to meet up at a date.

During a conflict with Sian, Barry breaks into her house and steals personal photos of her and Michael from when they were together, as well as a pair of her knickers. Barry produces the knickers in her class, pretending that he and Sian were together the night before. He throws the knickers in her face and she slaps him, leading Michael to feel conflicted about whether or not he should dismiss her. She later chooses to resign after the incident with Barry.

In Series 8 Episode 26 Lorraine Donnegan decides to close the Pupil Referral Unit. Michael argued with her because the closure of the PRU would severely affect the school's reputation. She wouldn't change her mind and so he resigns. He is replaced as head by Nikki Boston for one day. After Nikki's dramatic first day is over, she quits and Lorraine offers him his job back. However on his first day back, it is discovered that Michael tried to get the LEA to take over Waterloo Road behind Lorraine's back. After a few arguments and minor skirmishes in the staff room, Michael and Lorraine resolve their differences, and agree to the LEA takeover together. They both leave Waterloo Road and Michael tells her "another school" is next for him.

Following his departure, Christine Mulgrew becomes Headteacher of Waterloo Road following Michael's recommendation of her being a suitable replacement as Acting Headteacher.

Trivia

Michael is the replacement for Karen Fisher, who left at the end of the first term in Series 7.

Upon his arrival at Waterloo Road, Michael is the first male headteacher at the school since Jack Rimmer.

Michael was the first headteacher of the new Waterloo Road.

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