Each year since 2007 an award has been given to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School student judged to have the most exceptional musical talent. Julian Slade often used to help similarly promising students at the School and, after he died, his brother Adrian  and nephew Rupert, in full oo-peration with the School, helped to establish the new Julian Slade Award in his memory,


writes ADRIAN SLADE (April 2020)

When you are an aspiring teenage actor who has managed to get into a really good drama school like the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School the last thing you expect, be you a current or past graduate student, is to see your career opportunities being cut from under you by a particularly nasty pandemic virus from China.
That is the present fate of all current and ex drama school students, that sadly includes the winners of the BOVTS’s Julian Slade Award for Musical Talent, now in its twelfth year. And it is not much encouragement for any theatre lover to read that  Sir Cameron Mackintosh doesn’t expect most theatres to be up and running again for at least a year, and that is assuming they are still able to recapture their lost audiences and revenue.
Normally this website likes to report news of our Award Winners’ latest theatrical and other entertainment activities and successes, but now ‘lock down’ and ‘social distancing’ have put paid to all that.  So instead it seemed like an interesting project to find out how our Winners are filling their pandemic gap.


As a preface, I sadly have to report that Katie Moore, our very first Winner (in 2008) and the star of the 2012/13 productions of ‘Salad Days’ in London’s Hammersmith Riverside, has told me that, due to a chronic problem affecting her balance that she developed following an illness last year, she is standing down from acting. She  is now ‘lookingforward to pursuing an alternative career in the world of mental health/ therapy’but I know she will be much missed by us all after a full and successful 12 years in the theatre and television.

An actor who writes songs and plays the piano brilliantly, Ed  Macarthur  (2013) )has been a popular feature at recent Edinburgh Festivals and also a co-star in .which has twice toured and played London. As he puts it ’ I’ve been spending my time teaching online, writing and staying fit! I’ve also been roped into a weekly online Zoom show for children called ‘Ophidian Talks” in which I play  Mr MacArthur and sing a few silly songs in my black tie.’.

Alex Morgan(2009), when not working in theatre, has long been teaching French and Spanish and is currently the French and Spanish male voice over on GCSE French and Spanish Podcasts but he has also been creating and releasing a very entertaining new Linguafile Podcast series on ‘Malapropisms’and other abuses of the English language. See below for the link to his Podcast

She plays violin, piano, flute, piccolo and guitar So Jessica Temple (2014), who also sings opera, has plenty of musical skills to keep her occupied in a pandemic gap.  Not surprising perhaps when her father, Andrew Nicklin, is the freelance conductor, accompanist, arranger & director, who founded and runs Trent Opera and is Artistic Director of Nottingham Festival Opera Jessica has an impressive CV of stage and musical roles played at theatres in Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham where, just before ‘lock down’, she was due to play Portia in ‘The Merchant of Venice’. She also continues to do voice-over work from home, in her booth under the stairs, for clients such as HSBC, Boots and Andrex, but ‘apart from some reading and baking all is otherwise very quiet’..

Ali Watt (2010), who has long been busy as an actor in theatres all over Scotland, this time last year was playing a full summer season at Pitlochry. Since lock-down he has been keeping himself  busy writing, re-doing voice reels and ‘devoting more of my time to my musical instruments.’.. These include guitar, fiddle and viola.
I last heard from Eleanor Jackson (2015) some months ago. She had some theatrical work in the offing in Cornwall”s summer theatre but, like many other young actors, Ellie longed to be working more. She said at the time ‘I do have other jobs in the pipeline but it is sometimes very slow and very frustrating. I have got into lots of finals and have been in the last two for jobs at least a couple of times but work doesn’t always come my way’. We said to Ellie ‘Keep going and very good luck’ We say it again because she has so much talent and a very good singing voice’. She deserves more..

Chris Hancock (2011) has moved from acting to management. Inevitably that is not protecting him from the pandemic slump. Last year he became manager of ‘Catford Mews’, a large cinema and cultural venue in South Easr London. He is also involved with plans for another five similar venues in other parts of London but all are now on hold. ’Fortunately I can turn my hand to some mundane accounting if I need to’, he says.

With her boyfriend Niall, also ex-BOVTS, Verity Blyth (2016)  has been coping in Camden London by getting out once a day on a walk or a run. ‘It is keeping us sane’ she says. ‘The future is a little scary but we are in contact with our agents and although things have slowed down dramatically we are still doing bits here and there’
Verity herself has also been writing comedy sketches with her friend Corinna (another BOVTS graduate) and they are hoping to film them later in the year. They have written two pilot episodes of two different comedy series and are in the process of sending them to production companies/competitions. Verity has also been busy meeting casting directors online and taping for them for potential future programmes.

Bethan Nash (2012) who has played many important roles in recent years including Eliza Dooliitle in ‘My Fair Lady’, Samantha in ‘High Society’  at the Mill at Sonning and a lead part in Swallows & Amazons’ at the Bristol Old Vic,says’,‘Yes like everyone else, I lost my job when the Theatres closed. I was just at the beginning of a UK tour of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ for Tilted Wig Productions.After closure Beth and the rest of the cast devoted their time to filming an online zoom version of the show with the original score, clips and still shots from the full production   Beth continued “I have been resourceful with script readings and online singing lessons etc. I have also been applying for supermarket and home call centre jobs so hopefully something will come through soon.
ADRIAN ADDS “Beth has kindly let me see that ‘vimeo’  in which she plays three parts –  Lady Chatterley’s sister Hilda, Sir  Clifford Chatterley’s nurse Ivy and their maid  Elsa. She was brilliant  in all thr’e parts, as the other five members of the company. were in theirs. 
‘I have been isolating with my parents in Brussels’ says Pedro Leandro (2017) ‘We have a lovely garden and have been doing lots of cooking and baking so it’s actually been very pleasant! As for work things, as you can imagine things have pretty much ground down to a halt. I was working on a TV show called ‘Domina’ in Rome when things started getting serious so that has been put on hold for the foreseeable… I’m in the process of trying to create something for television but it’s all very early stages. Overall, though, it’s been very nice to have no choice but to reLL





 Julian Slade Award Winner (20/21)

Her family had neither a musical background nor enough money to invest in instruments and music lessons. Despite these gaps music has always played a big part in Carlie’s life. But she never thought that in her first year at the School she was going to win an award for something she had invested in privately and enjoyed so much. Singing had always been a casual pursuit. She had done little musical theatre, and only listened to sound tracks of musicals that her parents loved. Although she had sung in a chamber choir in year 6, she  was 16 before she received her first singing lessons in musical theatre, when she was on the Acting Course at Bodens College of Performing Arts. There she played roles such as Eponine in ‘Les Miserables’, Pepper in ‘Cry-Baby’, Martha in ‘Spring Awakening’ and George in ‘Godspell’. She also bought herself and taught herself to play an old ukulele from a local charity shop, later moving on to playing her very own guitar. She also soon started composing her own original songs.
Carlie wins the Julian Slade Award for 2020 with another two years to go on her BA acting course at BOVTS, where she clearly enjoys ‘constantly being pushed and encouraged by the staff when it comes to singing and acting’ and she is obviously particularly grateful to musical director, Pam Rudge ‘who has been a staple in influencing and improving my singing.  She is ‘much looking forward’ to seeing what her three years at the School accomplish. She adds ‘I’m so grateful to have received such a prestigious award alongside so many amazing people who have won previously.

Good luck and keep well, Carlie!