Hugh Bonneville was a member of the National Youth Theatre, studied Theology at Cambridge and made his professional debut at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, in 1986, bashing a cymbal in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and understudying Ralph Fiennes as Lysander. He then spent several seasons with the National Theatre where he appeared in School For Wives, Yerma, Entertaining Strangers, Juno and the Paycock and played Charles Surface in The School for Scandal and the title role in The Devil’s Disciple. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1991, appearing in Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Alchemist, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, The Virtuso and Amphibians. He also played Laertes to Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. His work at the RSC brought him a nomination for The Ian Charleson Award. Other theatre includes Habeas Corpus at the Donmar, directed by Sam Mendes, and seasons at Colchester, Leicester Haymarket and Chichester. He also appeared in My Night with Reg (Criterion & Playhouse), US and Them (Hampstead) and Cloaca (Old Vic, directed by Kevin Spacey).
Hugh is a familiar face to television audiences, having played leading roles in The Cazalets, Take a Girl Like You, Armadillo, Daniel Deronda and The Commander. He appeared in the Emmy award-winning The Gathering Storm and played the poet Philip Larkin in Love Again. Other credits range from comedies like The Robinsons, The Vicar of Dibley, Freezing, Rev, Getting On, Mr Stink (BAFTA nomination, Best Comedy) and Galavant to dramas such as Diary of a Nobody, Tsunami: The Aftermath, Miss Austen Regrets, Five Days, Hunter, The Silence, Doctor Who and the forthcoming The Hollow Crown.
Twenty Twelve won a British Comedy Award (2011) and a BAFTA (2013) for Best Comedy, Hugh being nominated two years running as Best Comedy Actor. In 2014, Hugh’s character, Ian Fletcher, appeared in W1A, a follow-up series about life at the BBC, which won the Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Comedy and Hugh received a third TV BAFTA nomination for his performance. Four new episodes aired in April 2015.
Downton Abbey has won dozens of awards worldwide and Hugh has received a Golden Globe and 2 Emmy nominations for his performance as Robert, Earl of Grantham. The cast has twice won Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the show was awarded a special BAFTA for its contribution to TV drama. The sixth and final series aired in the UK in September 2015.
Hugh made his feature film debut in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1994, directed by Kenneth Branagh. His many film appearances since then include Notting Hill, Mansfield Park, Stage Beauty, Asylum, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Man to Man, From Time to Time, Glorious 39, Burke & Hare, Third Star, Shanghai, The Monuments Men and Paddington. Hugh received a BAFTA Best Supporting Actor nomination for Iris and won Best Actor at the Monte Carlo Film Festival for his performance in French Film. Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy’s House, in which Hugh co-stars with Gillian Anderson, is currently in post-production.
Behind the scenes, Hugh co-produced the first West End production of Jonathan Harvey’s acclaimed Beautiful Thing at the Duke of York’s Theatre in 1994 and wrote Half Time with Christopher Luscombe, which he also directed.
Hugh is a patron of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, The National Youth Arts Trust, Scene & Heard, Giant Olive Theatre Company, The Primary Shakespeare Company, The Centre Stage Academy and Mousetrap Theatre Projects. He is also an Ambassador for Water Aid.
He lives in West Sussex with his wife, Lulu Williams. They have a fourteen year old son, Felix.
BARONESS ESTELLE MORRIS OF YARDLEY
Estelle started her career in education as a teacher in an inner city multi racial comprehensive school where she taught for 18 years. In 1992 she entered Parliament and in 2001 became the Secretary of State for Education and Skills. She followed this with 2 years as a Minister at the Department of Culture Media and Sport and left Parliament in 2005.
Since then she has combined a career that includes senior posts both in education and the arts as well as being a member of the House of Lords. She is a trustee of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and The Roundhouse and Chair of the National Coalmining Museum.
Estelle’s roles in education have allowed her to see the education landscape from classroom teacher to senior policy maker and it is this breadth of experience that is now reflected in her comments and analysis of education. Amongst other posts she now works at the Institute of Effective Education at the University of York which aims to transform the relationship between education research and practice so that policy making and teaching can become more evidence based.
“I was a teacher when studying the plays of William Shakespeare became part of the National Curriculum. I can recall its impact on the lives of children. They loved the stories and the characters and whether it was reading or acting, those English lessons were some of the best I had ever seen.
As an Education Minister many of the schools I visited cherished the Shakespeare work they did with children. It has so much to offer and can teach lessons that stay with you throughout your life”.
Billie Piper's career began at the age of 15 when she became the youngest artist to ever debut at number one in the UK with her first ever single. She followed that up with a further seven top five singles, two platinum albums and an award for ‘Best Newcomer’.
After several years as one of Britain’s biggest stars, Billie decided to focus on her original passion, acting. This is where she would really take the world by storm. Billie began with small shows and roles in numerous BBC productions until she landed the part of Rose Tyler in one of the world’s biggest series, 'Doctor Who'. Her performance was globally acclaimed, immediately becoming the most beloved companion of all time. Her performance saw her land several awards including, 'Most Popular Actress', 'Best Actress' and 'Breakthrough British Talent' at numerous different ceremonies.
Two years and two series later, Billie decided it was time to move on, starring in many successful adaptations including BBC's 'Shakespeare Re-Told' where she played Hero in 'Much Ado About Nothing', detective Sally Lockheart in 'The Ruby in the Smoke' and 'The Shadow in the North' and Fanny Price in ITV's acclaimed 'Mansfield Park'.
A Passionate Woman and True love, both for the BBC, saw her further success, before she took the leap across the atlantic to star in Showtime’s 'Penny Dreadful'. A huge success, the show is currently in its third series with glowing reviews for her performance.
However, Billie's biggest success to date has been her performances on stage, which have seen her win several prestigious 'Best Actress' awards. Billie debuted on stage in 2007 playing Ann in Christopher Hampton’s ‘Treats' that saw a string of sold out dates at the Garrick Theatre, as well as a nomination for 'Best Actress' at the Evening Standard Awards.
Photo by Emma-Jane Lewis copyright Pablo O’Hana
"The Primary Shakespeare Company are helping children to really engage with their education. They give an opportunity for parents to see how their children are learning and progressing - I think their work is essential."
2011 saw Billie play the part of Carly in Neil LaBute's 'Reasons to Be Pretty' at the Almeida Theatre, which not only went on to become a four-month sell out but also garnered her several five star reviews and a nomination for 'Best Actress' at the What's On Stage Awards.
This was still not to be Billie's best yet though. In 2012 she played the part of Connie, in the Headlong and National Theatre's co-production of 'The Effect', scripted by 'ENRON' writer, Lucy Prebble. The production was an overwhelming success selling out every date months in advance. The show very quickly became the most critically acclaimed new play of the season, and then the year! It received a constant stream of five-star reviews all focusing primarily on Billie's ‘Superb’ (The Telegraph), 'Tour-de-Force' (BBC Front Row) and 'Extraordinary' (The Guardian) performance. But the acclaim didn't stop there, Billie was also nominated for 'Best Actress' at the What's On Stage Awards, London Evening Standard Awards, Critic's Circle Awards and the highest honour in British theatre; the Olivier Awards.
Not one to take too much of a break, Billie went back to the National Theatre to lead 'Great Britain', a top secret production based on the then-recent phone hacking scandal. The show opened to a stream of critical acclaim and positive word of mouth, hailing Billie's 'Stunning' (BBC Front Row), ‘Compelling’ (Hollywood Reporter) and ’Roaring performance’ (Time Out). Just days after opening, the show was confirmed for a west-end transfer with awards begining to pile up. Billie was, once again, nominated for 'Best Actress' at the London Evening Standard Awards, and won Best Actress at the What's On Stage Theatre Awards for her performance.
ERIC BOLTON CB MA
Eric Started his education career as an English teacher in a number of secondary modern and comprehensive schools in industrial Lancashire. His particular interest was in refreshing and re-vitalising the teaching of poetry, about which he wrote and lectured extensively. After returning to university for a year to read for an M A in literature and society he became a lecturer in English and education at a Lancashire teacher training college. From there in 1970 he moved south to become a local authority schools’ inspector in the London Borough of Croydon and in 1973 was appointed to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools [HMI] based in the greater London area but working nation-wide. Initially an English specialist inspector his teaching experience and background led him to gravitate towards the education of disadvantaged children; of ethnic minorities and of schools working in inner-city and other urban areas. He was appointed successively as the Staff inspector and later the Chief Inspector organising the Inspectorate’s work in those areas. In 1983 he became the head of H M Inspectorate in England and Wales, the Senior Chief Inspector, and the chief professional advisor on education to the Government: a post he held until the formation of OFSTED in 1992.
On resigning from the Inspectorate he was appointed Professor for Teacher Education at the University of London Institute of Education, a post he held for five years.
During that time and beyond he served as one of the first Nolan Commissioners, was the Vice Chair of the New Opportunity Fund distributing lottery money to education, health and environmental projects, was the chair of The Book Trust, a member of the Arts Council Education committee, a Trustee of The Foundation for Young Musicians and the London Schools’ Symphony orchestra, a member of the Royal Opera House’s ballet education committee and the London Symphony Orchestra’s education advisory committee. He also advised government as a member of the National Enquiry into Creativity in Education chaired by the then Ken, now Sir Ken Robinson, and before that, of the Rampton/Swann Enquiry into the education of the children of ethnic minority communities. He also has advised other countries education services in the USA, Canada, Denmark, the Cayman Islands, and Mauritius. The common factor in most of that work is the importance of the arts in education, a topic about which he has written and lectured extensively and which he continues to support and promulgate energetically.
Award winning actor and director, Adrian started his career with a string of successful West End productions including Company, Six Degrees Of Separation and Sweeny Todd, before playing the lead role in Mike Nichol's movie Primary Colors. Other movie roles include Day After Tomorrow, As You Like It, Loves Labour’s Lost and Case 39. Adrian is also well known for his TV work including playing ‘Mickey Bricks’ in the BBC1 series Hustle and the recent BBC drama Undercover. Adrian has played the title roles in Henry V and Othello for Nicholas Hytner at the National Theatre, Rosalind in As You Like It for Declan Donnellan & Cheek By Jowl, Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet in London and New York and Hamlet in Peter Brook’s The Tragedy Of Hamlet in London, Paris, Japan and New York. Current filming projects include the Sky drama Riviera and movie Euphoria.
“The Primary Shakespeare Comapny encourage the children to spend time with the plays and to really begin to understand how many ideas Shakespeare put into a page”