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Public school actors thrive because it is 'fashionable to sound posh'

Published 01/03/2016

Tom Hollander believes
Tom Hollander believes "posh" accents are in vogue

Tom Hollander has said public school educated actors like Eddie Redmayne are more prominent because sounding posh is "fashionable" at the moment.

Alongside The Thick Of It's Rebecca Front, the 48-year-old Rev actor was talking to the Radio Times about their new ITV drama Doctor Thorne.

On the topic of award-winning, public school actors Redmayne, Damian Lewis and Benedict Cumberbatch, Front talked about her own experience.

"It's not impossible to be an actor if you went to state school. I went to state school," the 51-year-old said.

"But there is a problem of affordability, I know one major drama school is worried that only rich kids can access an arts education."

Hollander said: "Isn't it just that three actors who seem to have gone to public school are getting highly visible work?"

He continued: "When I started in the profession there were very visible actors who were Scottish, Welsh or regional.

"Lots of working-class-hero leading actors - it was not fashionable to sound posh. Now I'm middle-aged, it's fashionable to sound posh if you are the generation behind me."

The issue of class is another dimension of the continuing diversity debate.

Dame Helen Mirren, EastEnders' Danny Dyer and Julie Walters are just three names who have voiced concern about what they perceive as acting's growing class divide.

However, Hollander and Front were in sync as they discussed Doctor Thorne.

Based on Anthony Trollope's novel, and written by Bafta and Emmy award-winning Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, it is set in the village of Greshamsbury, in the fictional county of Barsetshire.

Doctor Thorne lives with his penniless young niece Mary, played by Rada-trained newcomer Stefanie Martini.

Mary is devastated when she learns she is the illegitimate child of the doctor's late brother.

Her predicament is made worse by the love between her and Frank Gresham (newcomer Harry Richardson), the heir to the Greshamsbury Estate.

Frank's overbearing mother Lady Arabella (Front) insists he must save the family from financial ruin by marrying wealthy American heiress, Miss Dunstable (Mad Men actress Alison Brie).

Meanwhile, Doctor Thorne acts as both physician and advisor to millionaire Sir Roger Scatcherd (Lovejoy's Ian McShane), who has the fate of Greshamsbury in his hands.

Like Downton, the three-part production, which will also feature Prince Harry's former girlfriend Cressida Bonas as Mary's confidante Patience Oriel, is another period drama.

Front, who recently portrayed Anna Mikhailovna Drubetskoy in BBC One's adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War And Peace, joked about how happy she will be if she never has to wear a corset again.

Bristol-born Hollander hailed his character, calling Doctor Thorne "strong and really courageous".

Published in 1858, this is the first television adaptation of the novel.

::Doctor Thorne is broadcast on ITV on March 6 at 9pm.

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