Actor inspires drama pupils

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British comedy actor and author Ben Miller has told Cramlington drama students that the acting profession is crying out for people from the north east.

The star of Johnny English Strikes Again, Paddington 2 and Death in Paradise visited Cramlington Learning Village to talk about his first children’s book, The Night I Met Father Christmas.

While there, he gave drama students an insight into his life as an actor, which started when he was a student at Cambridge studying physics and had a part in Othello.

He said that even though it was a serious role, people laughed every time he came on stage and that set him on the path to a career in comedy.

Ben told the students he believes areas like the north east should be better represented in film and on television.

He said: “What we really need in the acting profession is a wide range of voices and a diverse range of people. There’s a place for everyone. The profession is crowded with people from the south of England. We need more voices from around the country.”

Ben is currently promoting his book through appearances on national television and radio, as well as visits to schools.

The Night I Met Father Christmas was written for his oldest son Jackson and tells the story of what happened when a ten-year-old boy, who has been told Father Christmas does not exist, decides to stay up on Christmas Eve to find out for himself.

Father Christmas does come down the boy’s chimney, but is so surprised to see him he falls over and sprains his ankle. The boy then has to help him deliver his presents and during their journey learns the true story of how he became Father Christmas.

Ben, who is a regular visitor to the region because of his friendship with Pointless host Alexander Armstrong, who grew up in Longframlington, said: “As an adult, reading is an enormous pleasure, but we tend to be familiar, on some level, with the worlds that we discover in books.

“For children all these worlds are new. It’s really great for their development.”

The school’s librarian Eileen Armstrong said: “The students and staff were so excited about Ben’s visit and he didn’t let us down. He spent hours speaking to students, signing books and smiling for photographs. We’ll remember his visit for a long time and I am confident it will have a long-term and beneficial effect on many of our students.”