February 6 Letters: Making a career in profession where the accent is on class

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From: Edward Grainger, Botany Way, Nunthorpe, North Yorkshire.

JAYNE Dowle (The Yorkshire Post, January 29) all too clearly identifies the continuing issues of “class” within the nation’s “arts structure”.

The current system works against our talented youngsters, who will not have attended public or private school, Oxford or Cambridge Universities and therefore don’t make out to be “posh” and will almost certainly speak with a regional accent which does not go down at all well in the drama circles led by London and the South East.

My own son Neil, against all odds and due to his own dogged persistence, has stuck at his ambition to make a career out of acting since he first appeared in the soap opera Crossroads on leaving university with a performing arts degree, aged 21.

He is now 35 and has appeared, since the 18 months in Crossroads before it was taken off, in Judge John Deed, The Bill, EastEnders, Heartbeat, Doctors and Casualty (all just for one episode). Finally after taking the advice of his agent in London, he landed the part of Gervaise in the Geordie sitcom Hebburn (two series) appearing to sound like a Geordie (which he is not). His Teesside/Yorkshire accent actually went against him in his career, as well as not having attended a public or private school or Oxford or Cambridge University.

The best example of bias against actors and actresses like Neil became clear when auditions for the very first series of Downton Abbey were held. His agent attempted to secure an audition, but was informed that without the necessary “educational background” he would not be called to read a line or two from the first programme in the first series! I am proud of him after what he has achieved so far against great odds, but this class barrier across the arts described by Jayne puts a lie to the often quoted view that “fair shares for all” and “equal opportunities for all” runs right across a wide range of careers in public life, which it does not and regrettably never will.

From: Nigel F Boddy, Fife Road, Darlington.

ALONG with other bright children at my school I was part of a failed experiment to introduce standardised spelling known as ITA (Initial Teaching Alphabet). We were left to cope with this disaster as six and seven- year-olds.

These experiments don’t work, because no one can create agreement across the English speaking world about what changes to spellings there 
should be.