Town’s film star link

THE WOMAN who gave Colin Firth the acting bug has spoke of her pride at his Oscar victory.

Tuesday, 15th March 2011, 5:41 pm

Freda Kelsall, who lives in Hebden Bridge, taught Colin and his two younger siblings acting, when she lived in Hampshire.

Colin and Freda remain good friends, despite his busy lifestyle, and The King’s Speech star has even been to Hebden Bridge to visit her.

Freda said: “I first met Colin over 36 years ago. I had just set up my acting school and I knew his mum. She told me that acting was something her three children would be interested in and Colin, Kate and John enrolled in the Saturday drama workshops I held in our local community centre. We had no idea that for each of them it was to help decide their future careers.

“Colin was 14 then, energetic, committed, and inventive. As the eldest, he needed to decide sooner what he wanted to do with his life, and I began coaching him for drama school external exams. I always believed he’d do well.”

Colin’s brother, John, has gone on to be a successful television actor and teaches drama. His sister Kate is a vocal coach, who helped him prepare for The King’s Speech - a performance which won him the best actor prize at this year’s Academy Awards.

Freda, who read one of the lessons at Colin’s star-studded wedding, said that acting and family are his life. She also believes there is still a lot more to come from her former pupil.

“He doesn’t court celebrity, but tries to use it to the advantage of others,” she said. “He’s good company, honest and generous, an acute observer, very funny, yet deeply thoughtful, as he was as a teenager.

“He often credits his Saturday morning classes and early coaching in interviews, and surprises me sometimes.

“He says I taught him ‘the reality of the inner world’, and when I saw The King’s Speech I understood what he may have meant by it.

“I hope he carries on working for decades yet, as I’m sure he has many fine performances in store.”

Freda still writes and is involved with the Hebden Bridge Little Theatre group.