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Act unafraid;Opinion

Maureen Lipman claims that she used to avoid menial work when she was "resting" by telling the Labour Exchange she was looking for work as a shepherdess - in Battersea. But most resting actors are obliged to take on whatever paid employment is available: telephone canvassing, bar work, even dressing up as a giant tomato to promote a new restaurant. They may therefore be grateful to Lord Puttnam for suggesting that they could be drafted into teacher training colleges to develop students' presentational skills.

His Lordship is not the first to see the link between greasepaint and chalk. Good teachers have always known that acting skills are vital.

And good trainers have long recognised that it is foolish to tell a novice teacher: "Don't worry. Just go in there and be yourself." That's a sure way to be eaten alive.

Actors have much to teach young teachers about the use of voice, gesture, props and humour. They could also teach them how to take a bow. That skill is seldom needed at present, of course. But, like the resting actor, one can always dream of better times.

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