Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Robert Lindsay: Lack of government support for working-class actors is heartbreaking

Robert Lindsay in Prism at Hampstead Theatre in 2017
by -

Robert Lindsay has called for more government grants to address a “heartbreaking” lack of support for aspiring actors from working-class backgrounds.

The actor, whose credits include sitcom My Family and Prism at the Hampstead Theatre, said he had received nearly 100 letters this year alone from drama school students asking for financial help.

Prism starring Robert Lindsay – review at Hampstead Theatre, London – ‘lyrical’

“When I went to RADA, I got £137 per term [in government support], which is probably now £1,000, and it kept me alive for nine terms. Now you wouldn’t believe the amount of letters I get personally from students. There’s no support,” he said.

Lindsay, who has previously financially supported a student through RADA, added: “The letters I get are all from kids in Scunthorpe, Manchester, Liverpool and Exeter, saying: ‘I can’t get any money, my mum and dad can’t afford to get me to drama school, is there anyway you can find a way to help me?’. It’s heartbreaking.”

The comments were made during a Q&A event at London restaurant J Sheekey on June 17.

Lindsay also raised the issue of cuts to the arts in the school curriculum, recalling that an arts teacher had “nudged” him towards pursuing something creative.

He said: “I find it amazing that drama and the arts are being cut from syllabuses.

“It really pisses me off, because that was my only hope when I was a kid to better my life. It just helped me feel that what I did was right, because there was some support.”

Lindsay added: “I do think the sciences are great, maths is great, I think they’re all important, but the creative industries [involve] speaking and meeting people. It’s not just about acting; it’s about being a person.”

The Q&A with Robert Lindsay took place as part of a wider series of evenings at J Sheekey called Sheekey Secrets, with further events to take place with Bill Paterson on July 8 and Maureen Lipman on September 9.

Working-class actors no more disadvantaged today than 40 years ago – report

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.