Robson Green

Daphne Lockyer

He may not have enjoyed school but the TV actor learnt a lot from one teacher who had faith in him

Iwould be lying if I said I enjoyed my education. I didn't. I left school at 17 and have some real regrets. I read so much now and often think I would love to study English literature again. As a professional actor I think it would be invaluable.

I'm not blaming the teachers. As in all schools, mine had good and bad. I went to Seaton Burn High, a comprehensive near Dudley, the Northumberland mining village where I grew up. Like most of the kids, mine was a working class background. My dad was a miner, my mum worked as a cleaner, a secretary, a shop assistant; anything to try to provide for her four children, of which I was the third.

Nobody who attended the school was rolling in it and I'm sure there were the usual problems of big class sizes and kids who were disruptive; the kind of problems that teachers are still dealing with. But when I hear them complaining, I often think: "Hang on, this is a job you have chosen. And it's an incredibly important one. These are our kids. This is our future.

If you are a good teacher you devote yourself to the children in your care and you find ways to inspire and understand them."

Howard Beckett, at Seaton Burn, was a prime example of what good teaching is all about. He was my music teacher, a lovely, gentle guy who was 6ft 2in and looked like a ginger version of Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac.

Mr Beckett was passionate about his subject and constantly on the look out for kids who shared his enthusiasm. I was crazy about music and always singing at home. But I never had the confidence to do anything publicly.

Round my way, that kind of thing was likely to get you beaten up.

Still, Mr Beckett heard me sing in his class and said: "You're really good." He ran a music group after school and asked me to go. To me it was amazing that a teacher valued something I could do. I remember one teacher said to me: "Green, you're a fool and you'll play the fool for the rest of your life."

Mr Beckett, on the other hand, saw beyond the kid who arsed around. He cast me in a school production of The Pirates of Penzance and I discovered that I loved being on the stage. It was thanks to him I joined the Backworth Youth Theatre and formed my own bands.

Looking back, I find his faith in me completely moving. As pupils, it seemed that everyone else was preparing us for work but he was about elevating you to a level beyond what you experienced in your everyday life.

He allowed you to feel that you could achieve anything and that you had as much right as anyone to dream and have ambitions. When I became a successful actor, I set up a theatre school in Newcastle and it remains a passion for me. Perhaps, I just want to help kids in the way Mr Beckett helped me Robson Green, 42, is one of Britain's most successful television actors. He has starred in dramas including Reckless, Touching Evil and Grafters. He has set up a theatre school and Coastal, a production company, responsible for prime-time dramas such as Wire in the Blood. He is appearing now in City Lights, on ITV. He was talking to Daphne Lockyer

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Daphne Lockyer

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