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Sir Tony Robinson digs deep for Royal Central School of Speech and Drama ground-breaking ceremony

PUBLISHED: 16:07 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:07 09 February 2017

Sir Tony Robinson picks up a shovel for the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama's ground-breaking ceremony. Credit: Patrick Baldwin

Sir Tony Robinson picks up a shovel for the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama's ground-breaking ceremony. Credit: Patrick Baldwin

© Patrick Baldwin 2017

An expanding performing arts school that counts Dame Judi Dench and Vanessa Redgrave among its alumni is bidding to be a world leader in drama.

Nickolas Grace, Wendy Allnutt, Sir Tony Robinson and David Horovitch at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama's ground-breaking ceremony. Credit: Patrick BaldwinNickolas Grace, Wendy Allnutt, Sir Tony Robinson and David Horovitch at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama's ground-breaking ceremony. Credit: Patrick Baldwin

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, which also saw A-listers Martin Freeman, Andrew Garfield and Kit Harington through the doors, held a ground-breaking ceremony at its Swiss Cottage campus to mark the start of work on the new North Block building.

The development will extend the school’s teaching, rehearsal and performance spaces, as well as adding new filming studios and a public courtyard theatre.

On hand to add some star quality to the ground-breaking ceremony was Blackadder favourite and Time Team stalwart Sir Tony Robinson, who graduated from Central in 1966.

Sir Tony said: “My three years at the Central School of Speech and Drama were an enormous influence on my career and on my life, so I was particularly pleased and proud to have been asked to cut the first sod as it embarks on creating and even bigger and better school for all those who work in the entertainment industry.

“For 20 years I’ve been watching other people wielding a spade and a trowel on Time Team, so I was glad to get my turn.”

Work on the new block is expected to be completed in 2018, with the school remaining in use while building works are undertaken.

Central’s principal, professor Gavin Henderson, believes the new facilities will cement the school’s reputation as a north London cultural hub.

“The anticipation of this moment has been extraordinary,” he said.

“10 years have passed since we set this objective, and then we had the credit crunch and the recession, but this helped us to acquire the site from Camden Council and begin our planning procedure with them.

“Then there was the money, with post-recession costs rising fast, but £16million later, and a little bit more to find, we’re up and away – or digging down and beyond.

“Our design team, with Tim Ronalds Architects at the helm, have done a 
wonderful job in shaping a building that 
will keep Central ahead with the finest combined estate of any British drama school – truly world leading.”

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