A new performing arts degree at Bradford College aims to ensure graduates are ready to take advantage of Yorkshire’s burgeoning media scene ahead of Channel 4’s move to the county.
With the national broadcaster set to relocate its headquarters to the area, the Arts Council recently announcing National Lottery funding worth £1.5m for a group of Bradford organisations to create a Producing Hub and the city proving a popular filming location, the College believes its new course will ensure students can seize the opportunities the city’s creative boom will bring.
TV shows Gentleman Jack, Victoria, The ABC Murders, Peaky Blinders, Ackley Bridge, Gunpowder and Girlfriends are among numerous productions to have chosen to shoot in Bradford over the past few years, with the latter three all filming on site at Bradford College.
The college’s new two-year foundation degree has been designed by course leader and former Emmerdale actor Tom Aldersley, drawing on his industry experience and understanding of the demands of the creative industries in an increasingly digital age.
Tom Aldersley, course leader for the Performing Arts FdA
He said: “The course is very practical and has been created to prepare students for the reality of a challenging and competitive industry that offers great opportunities for those willing to go and grab them.
“The industry-focussed training includes intensive acting training that responds to the changing needs of the business. Over the two years, students get to look at acting from the very start, from building a character to how to research text and how to perform and take direction. Students will really get to explore acting. It is not just about just stage acting either but also acting for other media such as YouTube, websites, TV, radio and podcasts.
“There is also the flexibility to tailor the course to the student’s passion. If they want to do directing or writing, they can explore that in more depth.
“Students will also get to make their own pieces of work, be that a piece of live theatre, a podcast or a short film as part of a content creation module.
“The course also requires students to complete 40-hours work experience. As a college, we have great links the Alhambra Theatre, the BBC, Channel 4 and the Royal Shakespeare Company for whom we are an associate school, so students could find themselves delivering workshops with the RSC.”
Bradford College performing arts tutor Tom Aldersley, right, has appeared in Emmerdale among a number of TV roles
Tom, whose acting CV also boasts appearances in Coronation Street, Sky soap Mount Pleasant and Russell T Davies’s Cucumber, is also keen for his performing arts students to collaborate with students from other creative courses at the college such as special effects make-up, film, music and photography.
“To succeed in the industry you need to be able to work with people from different areas and different backgrounds and this allows you to do that,” he explained.
“On Emmerdale you didn’t just work with actors, you work with storyliners, makeup artists, directors and producers. The ability to collaborate is a key skill for thriving in the industry.
“Students in their final year will perform in a ‘showcase' which they plan and organise and invite industry professionals. This potentially gives students the opportunity to meet and perform in front of agents and casting directors as well as other industry contacts, possibly in an external venue.”
On completing the course graduates will be invited into a new graduate company which will produce and commission its own work.
“The Performing Arts Graduate Theatre Company will offer a bridge into the industry,” Tom explained.
"It will be run entirely by the graduates themselves and not the staff, although they will, of course, be able to call on our help and support and they will have use of the college to meet and rehearse.
“The production company will provide graduates with the opportunity to generate their own paid work and really build links and get real hands-on experience.”
The Foundation Degree is a full-time, two-year course or can be done over four years on a part-time basis and applications from mature students are welcomed.
The course will run for the first time in September 2019 and anyone considering applying can find more details HERE or can call Tom Aldersley for a chat on 01274 088 088.
Tom Aldersley in the Spinning Shed Theatre space at Bradford College