Ian Kelsey is a well-known actor
who has starred in Emmerdale, Blue
Murder and Doctors. He has also had
leading roles in theatre productions of
Chicago, Shawshank Redemption and
Legally Blonde. We catch up with Ian
to ask him about his education and
ambitions as a young, aspiring actor at
What schools did you attend and what
lessons did you enjoy most?
At Lowfields Secondary Modern in Acomb,
a district of York, I loved anything practical,
including woodwork, metal work and chemistry.
History was also a big favourite learning about
the industrial revolution.
A little later in life I found myself at Tech
college, where I completed my three year
apprenticeship as a vehicle builder at BREL
building trains where I learned how to fabricate
metal into different forms and rivet, braze or
weld them into place.
My last educational
Guildford School of
Acting where I loved
everything that involved
a large “jazz hand” and
led me into my love of
What were your aspirations as a child?
I can’t remember having specific career
aspirations – I was enjoying my childhood too
much and in no rush to grow up.
Did you have any inspirational teachers and
what impact did they have on you?
It was the English teacher at Lowfields who
spotted the first twitching of a jazz hand
and cast me as Widow Twanky in the school
pantomime. I was given free reign and at one
point during the show I can remember having
the teachers in stitches, so I guess that’s where
the seed to my eventual career choice was
Funnily enough, it was the very same English
teacher that called me a ‘cretin’ because I used
to have, and still do, a deep fear of reading,
especially out loud.
(Ian as Andy Dufresne in the stage production of The Shawshank Redemption)
What job did your teachers think you would
be best suited for?
I was never asked what I wanted to do in later
life - career advice seemed to be non-existent.
I wish someone told me “the world is your
oyster”. Children today have far more guidance
available to them, which I envy.
When I’m watching TV with my six year old
and there’s a person picking oranges for
Waitrose I say to him “now that’s a job”! You
may need a degree in chemistry to get there,
but you can do whatever you want to do in life.
In my early career I built trains for six years
and then moved to joinery work for a couple of
years. This experience working on the trains on
shifts has helped me to cope with working long
hours in front of the camera. I enjoy keeping
the energy up on set and bantering with the
I only started drama school because I
developed an allergy to cedar wood and was
told that I would have to wear a mask or
change my career. I thought that only people
from London went to drama school and only
applied when someone I knew from my local
amateur theatre got in!
What is your role/job now?
I am an actor having played parts in
Emmerdale, Blue Murder and Doctors. I’m
currently taking some time out of the spot
light to spend time with my young family and
consider my next step in the acting world.
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