Robert (“Bertie”) Portal
His distinction as an actor is matched only by his modesty and by his remarkable versatility, as he is equally at home in serious drama, comedy, thrillers and romance. Having trained at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (“LAMDA”) he went on to a brilliant career on stage, film and television, including famous productions of Henry VI and Love’s Labours Lost for the Royal Shakespeare Company. One of his most successful stage roles was starring as Richard Hannay, hero of the hugely successful stage adaptation of John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps.
Among his enormous number of film and television credits are starring roles in Mrs Dalloway, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, Ruth Rendell Mysteries and The Queen’s Sister. He was also the King’s Equerry in the Academy Award-winning film A King’s Speech, in which Andrew Havill also played. He recently rowed the Atlantic with a friend in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and raised £350,000 for Facing the World, the charity that provides plastic surgery for deformed children everywhere.
Trained at LAMDA and has played a wide variety of roles on stage, film and radio. She starred with David Suchet in Poirot: Murder in Mesopotamia and with Kenneth Branagh in the BBC production of Wallender: Sidetracked, which won Best Drama BAFTA for 2009.
Having fulfilled a lifetime ambition of playing Amanda in a highly acclaimed production of Noel Coward’s Private Lives she went on to play another starring role as “Mother” in London’s most spectacular and delightful theatrical production – the brilliant dramatisation of The Railway Children at London’s Waterloo station that won the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Entertainment.
Was a schoolboy actor in the National Youth Theatre when he was talent-spotted and engaged by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Among his many memorable stage successes are the lead in Alan Ayckbourn’s Virtual Reality (directed by the playwright) and many acclaimed Shakespeare productions for the RSC and at the Globe, where he returned in 2010 to play one of his favourite roles, that of Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
He has appeared in over a dozen films, including Sylvia, The Heart of Me, Nicholas Nickleby and The Broken, and in over forty TV shows ranging from costume dramas to sitcoms and such long-running favourites as Dr Who. He has recently played alongside Robert Portall in the highly acclaimed film, A King’s Speech. Clips from some of his famous film and television roles can be seen on his website: www.andrewhavill.com
Trained at LAMDA and is particularly well known for his three years at London’s Lyceum theatre playing Scar in The Lion King (2005-2008), though this is only one of his innumerable stage, film and television roles, which include the King in Trevor Nunn’s 2004 production of Hamlet at the Old Vic, Sir Andrew Aguecheek in the BBC’s production of Twelfth Night, DC Collins in the TV serial Trial and Retribution and Walter Luke in Strangers and Brothers.
He is also a distinguished producer and teacher, and was Artistic Director of Tour de Force from 1997 to 2005.
Trained at The Central School of Speech and Drama. She is perhaps best known for her magnificent performance as Charlotte Lucas in the BBC film of Jane’s Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Her stage credits include Emma, Search and Destroy and Things We Do for Love, and among her film and TV work are her roles in Spooks, Rosemary and Thyme, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, Perks and Micky Love.
Studied economics and Japanese Studies at Durham and London then lived in Japan for two years on a cultural exchange programme before becoming a high-powered accountant with Unilever. She spent several years in New York, where she did voluntary work for the Guggenheim, and now lives again in England, the wife of an international banker.
She also holds the TEFL qualification, and while not a professional actor, unlike most of our presenters, she would make a very good one if ever she decided to change career!
The English Speech and Pronunciation course was Clare’s brainchild after studying English Literature at the University of Buckingham, journalism at the London School of Journalism, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (“TEFL”) at International House, London, where she specialised in Business English. Finding that all existing distance-learning language and pronunciation courses were inadequate, demotivating and rarely completed, she conceived the idea of a completely new type of course that would exploit all the benefits of modern technology and be entirely on film. She also pioneered the use of webcams and Skype to provide the one-to-one live tutorials that provide so valuable a supplement to the course.
Professor Peter Greenhalgh
Clare’s father holds a doctorate from Cambridge University. He taught there and at Cape Town, and has combined an academic career with many directorships in business and banking in several countries. He is an expert on classical languages, has lectured internationally on corporate finance, and has written many books, articles and radio plays, for one of which he gained the SABC Academy Award for English Radio Drama. He has devoted nearly four years to collaborating with Clare to write, create and film this unique course.