The man behind Television Workshop
Ian Smith on the life and times of the Television Workshop and Nottingham's future small and big screen stars.
For more than 20 years the Television Workshop has been nurturing Nottinghamshire's acting talent for life on stage, on TV and Hollywood.
Based in an inconspicuous basement in Nottingham's Lace Market the Nottinghamshire institution is a resource offering free training for young people from all backgrounds in performance skills for television, film, and theatre.
It's about to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
Director Ian Smith has been involved from the start and has helped develop so many stars - Radio 1Xtra's Mistajam, highly acclaimed Control's Toby Kebbell and Bafta nominee Samantha Morton to name a few - he now takes his pupils' success in his stride.
One big accident
Originally a volunteer with the Lace Market Theatre group, Ian says it was a bit of luck that led to the birth of the Television Workshop in our fair city in 1983.
"Nottingham's great but it all started off as a bit of a geographical accident. The Lenton Lane studios, god rest them, came to Nottingham and with that came this wonderful idea 'Let's set up this group in town and let's see what we can do with some of the local kids.'"
"We've seen thousands of kids over the years and we've given so many kids opportunities to realise that potential. It's wonderful."
The biggest name to come out of Nottingham (so far) is Samantha Morton. Ian says she is a great ambassador.
"She represents very much what the Workshop's about. Which is taking somebody that maybe hasn't had amazing life chances along the way and really capitalizing on the talent, developing that talent and releasing that potential."
Ones to watch
Originally, the number of students attached to the Workshop were in their twenties. Nowadays it's more like 120. Names of ones to watch out for in the coming years spill off Ian's tongue.
Ian and Samantha
"Luke Gell is the darling of the BBC Comedy department, and he's the new barman in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. He's been through the Workshop from 11 years old. From his first audition he was outrageous. I remember crying with laughter. Someone's described him as a young Peter Kay."
Other names Ian is keen to put forth are Joe Dempsie (Skins), Aisling Loftus (Casualty) and Georgia Groome (London to Brighton).
Anyone can audition for a place at the Television Workshop. They take children from the ages of 7 to 14. If you think you want to get involved... do it! Anyone can get an application form online.
Ian Smith and members of the Television Workshop
last updated: 15/04/2008 at 18:00