Page 3 Profile: David Morrissey, Actor


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All the world’s a stage…

But only the well-to-do can afford a career in the arts, apparently. Working class people are being prevented from pursuing a career in the arts, which have become financially prohibitive, according to the actor David Morrissey. He believes that there is an “intern culture” in the arts, with people from working-class backgrounds being denied access to the sector, while the more well off are subsidised by their parents.

What has Mr Morrissey said?

In an interview with the Radio Times, published today, the 50-year-old Liverpudlian said: “Too often now, people come into the profession subsidised by their parents and they’re not being paid. We’re creating an intern culture.” This trend isn’t confined to the acting world, he warned: “it’s happening in journalism and politics as well. We have to be very careful because the fight is not going to be there for people from more disadvantaged backgrounds.”

How did he find fame?

Mr Morrissey, who also has directing, screenwriting and producing credits, got his big break by training at the Everyman Youth Theatre in Liverpool when he was a teenager. He was cast in the 1983 series One Summer aged 18 and went on to perform with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre and more recently he has appeared in The Walking Dead. The actor, who is married to the novelist Esther Freud with whom he has three children, said: “It worries me that in the arts, which is essentially a very rich community, we’re not offering more support. Television is doing very well for itself, but the trickledown effect isn’t working.”

Is he right to be worried?

Dame Judi Dench agrees that financial barriers to training and a lack of opportunities is holding back actors from working-class backgrounds. The Oscar-winning actress has revealed that she receives large numbers of letters from aspiring actors asking for help to fund their training. Last month Ben Stephenson, the BBC’s controller of drama commissioning, said that acting had become too much of a middle-class preserve and that class was now a “major issue” facing the arts.