Originally published in The Stage, March 2016
What’s the connection between Samantha Morton, Jack O’Connell, Vicky McClure, Joe Dempsie, Chris Gasgoyne – and me? The answer is that we are all former students of the Television Workshop, which operates from a basement in the centre of Nottingham.
Since the 1980s, the group has trained some of the country’s most exciting actors. It was awarded a BAFTA for its outstanding development of young talent for film and television. Yet compared with some London-based groups it flies under the radar. If you’re not from the East Midlands, and not a casting director you probably haven’t heard of the Workshop.
The Workshop was the brainchild of Lewis Rudd, head of children’s television at Central TV, and Peter Murphy, a TV producer from Yorkshire Television with a background in community theatre. In the early 1980s Central was created after a restructure of Associated Television. In its state-of-the-art new studios in Nottingham, Lewis Rudd decided to create the ‘Anna Scher of the Midlands’. Using Peter Murphy’s experience, they set about creating a youth theatre attached to a television studio, a place to research and develop new children’s television, and somewhere that would provide a casting pool of regional talent.