YOUNG comedians showcased their talents in front of television’s Armstrong and Miller yesterday as one of the popular duo returned to their old school.
Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller – best known for their BBC sketch programme The Armstrong and Miller Show – took time out from rehearsals for their live tour to pay a visit to Durham School, where they met pupils who hope to follow in their footsteps.
The visit was a particularly nostalgic trip back to the classroom for Alexander, who grew up in Rothbury, Northumberland, and was a boarding school pupil at Durham in the 1980s.
The pair are in the region to stage their live show at the Journal Tyne Theatre, in Newcastle, with the first performance last night and another being held tonight.
And they were delighted to be invited to the school during their short spell in the North East.
As well as watching two short performances from the school’s drama students, they were also on hand to help present a cheque to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation after the school raised £4,500 in a recent rugby tournament for the cancer charity.
Alexander, who left the school in 1988, said: “It was great to be back.
“It is a beautiful place and I don’t think I fully appreciated that at the time – though I have very happy memories of tobogganing down the surrounding hills.
“I didn’t plan to go into acting or comedy when I was at school. I was heading for a career in law when I went to Cambridge University, but after three years I still wasn’t sure it was the right path for me.
“I decided to take a year out and try my hand at acting – and I’m still trying, but things are going great.”
Pauline Buglass, head of fundraising for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, said: “We’re very appreciative of Durham School’s hard work in raising this money. It took a great deal of effort or organise the tournament and we’re thrilled for the school that it was such a great success.”
Student Ali White Meek, 13, was one of the lucky pupils who was chosen to join Armstrong and Miller in the audience for the drama workshop. She said: “It was really exciting to have Armstrong and Miller come to our school. I enjoy watching their programme and their appearances on panel shows.
“It’s great to know that Alexander Armstrong is a former pupil, as it helps us to believe that we could go on to achieve that level of success, too.”
Samuel Barnard, 14, performed a short sketch as part of the workshop. He said: “I was very nervous, but it was a great privilege to get the chance to perform in front of Armstrong and Miller.
“I am studying GCSE drama and would love to have a career on the screen or stage in the future.
“To know that Alexander Armstrong used to be a student here is a great inspiration.”
It was great to be back. It is a beautiful place and I don’t think I fully appreciated that at the time