London

Actor Damian Lewis 'too privileged' for school event

Damian Lewis speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Acland Burghley School Image copyright PA
Image caption Damian Lewis told the audience his critics were "missing the point"

Damian Lewis has hit back at critics who claimed he was too privileged to take part in his local comprehensive school's 50th anniversary celebrations.

The Eton-educated actor told the event people who had complained were "missing the point" as the evening was "a celebration of our community... and the role the school has played here".

Alumni from Acland Burghley School in north London had signed a petition against the Homeland star's appearance.

The actor lives near the Camden school.

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The petition said: "Damian Lewis was educated at Eton, a school that, more than any other, represents the reproduction of privilege and inequality in the UK."

Lewis told the audience of about 450 "there is more creativity, independence and support in this neighbourhood than any other... I have lived in."

He praised the school for teaching such "qualities", calling it "a beacon of curiosity, independence, creativity and diversity".

The woman who began the petition, which garnered 100 signatures, said she had not meant it as a personal attack against Lewis.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Acland Burghley's well-known former pupils include singer Ms Dynamite and Madness sax player Lee Thompson
Image copyright Google
Image caption Damian Lewis said he had lived near the north London comprehensive for the last 10 years

"It's really just about how do you celebrate the anniversary of a really good comprehensive school that has always taken a very radical and socially progressive attitude towards education," Rachel Cohen said.

On the petition the City University sociology lecturer had written that the Wolf Hall actor was "a wholly inappropriate choice" for a celebration at a comprehensive school.

Many of those who were there cheered his appearance, calling Lewis an "inspiration".

Image copyright PA
Image caption The school had a laser display to mark its 50th year

Headteacher Nicholas John said it was "great" he was an actor who wanted to be "involved in the community".

The event featured a laser show which Lewis began the countdown for.

Other alumnus from the school include singer Ms Dynamite and Madness saxophonist Lee Thompson.


Damian Lewis profile

Image copyright AP
  • Born on 11 February 1971 in St John's Wood, north-west London
  • Educated at the independent Ashdown House School, East Sussex, and Eton College, Berkshire
  • Graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama
  • Played Sgt Nicholas Brody in US TV series Homeland, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe
  • Played Richard Winters in Band of Brothers, and Henry VIII in the BBC's adaptation of Wolf Hall

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