Famed for his role as the butler Mr Carson, the force behind the scenes at Downton Abbey, the actor Jim Carter returned to his acting roots in Harrogate, opening the newly renovated Soothill Hall auditorium at Ashville College on Sunday.
Mr Carter, a former head boy during his final year at the college, cut the ribbon before taking to the stage for ‘an afternoon with Jim Carter’ in the auditorium, which has just undergone a £2.25m facelift.
He also spoke with some of the college’s drama students in the studio that has now been named after him in honour of his acting career.
He said: “I think it is fantastic that this school has got such good facilities and I hope the students flourish here.
“Coming back here has triggered a lot of memories. Seeing the youngsters, they clearly enjoy what they are doing here, and that is important.”
Mr Carter also spoke about the importance of drama on a national level, and its place in the regions outside of London.
“London does suck a lot of the air out of the rest of the country, but there are great thing happening in Sheffield and Leeds, and all over Yorkshire things are very strong,” he said.
“Though I don’t know much about what is going on in the schools, I think people do realise the importance of drama.
“They know it has had a huge impact on the economy and the national life – our culture is the thing we are most famous for in Britain.”
He also remembered fondly the time he spent at Ashville College, and its role in his future as an actor.
“There were school plays every year and I played small parts in them, and they were great fun but also taken quite seriously.
“I enjoyed them very much, but I had no idea that I would be an actor, even though I have been doing the same thing every since.”
Mr Carter’s appearance forms part of the college’s arts festival which started on Wednesday, March 12, with an evening of poetry with Simon Armitage.
Future events include an appearance by solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and Ashville’s Last Night of the Proms.
Tickets are still available to buy from the college reception. Call them on 01423 566358.