Following the fortunes of our talented former students

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni

Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg studied Theatre Studies at Stratford-upon-Avon College in 1985-87.

Since leaving the Stratford-upon-Avon College, Simon went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre, Film and TV at Bristol University in 1991. After a brief career as a stand-up comedian, his first small screen appearance was in the comedy sketch show Six Pairs of Pants). This led to a few cameo appearances in a number of comedy productions between 1997-99. He then co-wrote and starred in the BAFTA nominated Spaced (Channel 4, 1999-2001). Following the success of this programme, Simon went on to act in a number of other roles, including an effective straight role as a soldier in Tom Hanks’ Band of Brothers (HBO, 2001).

Simon’s big screen breakthrough came in his role in Shaun of the Dead, a gripping horror spoof. The film was nominated for Best British Film at the BAFTAs and won the Peter Sellers’ Award for Comedy at the Evening Standard Awards. The success of this film was a wonderful breakthrough for Simon as the film also became popular in America. Following this Simon landed a role as a twitchy computer expert in Mission Impossible 3, starring Tom Cruise and appeared alongside David Schwimmer in the American film, Big Nothing). Following Shaun of the Dead’s success, once again Simon teamed up with co-star and best friend Nick Frost to make crime comedy-thriller Hot Fuzz), Paul (2011) and The World’s End (2013).

Simon reprised his role of Benji Dunn in Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), the sixth film of the action franchise, making him the only actor from the film series other than Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames (who portrayed their characters in every film) to appear in more than three of the films.

“It was a time of great change. I was away from home and I met a whole bunch of kids who were the same as me, they all had the same kind of interests. I just had the most incredible time, it was a really fertile inspiring time, and these people that I met were the most significant friends that I ever made.”

Simon Pegg, Desert Island Discs , BBC Radio 4.

Ben Elton

Ben studied English, History and Theatre Studies at Stratford-upon-Avon College.

He then went on to the University of Manchester and graduated with an Honours degree in Drama. His subsequent career has seen him become a successful comedian, scriptwriter, actor, author and director!

In 1982, at the age of 23, he had his first sitcom credit, as co-writer of the anarchic The Young Ones which followed the surreal lives of four socially inadequate students. He then went on to co-write some of the Blackadder series which became a worldwide phenomenon and cemented his reputation as an influential comedy writer. He later wrote the musicals We Will Rock You (2002), based on the music of Queen, and – in collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber – Love Never Dies (2010), a sequel to Phantom of the Opera.

Ben is also a successful novelist with 16 novels published. Several reached number 1 in the British Bestsellers listings, including Stark (1989), Gridlock (1991) and Popcorn (1996). He turned to film directing in 2000 with Maybe Baby, the film adaptation of his own novel Inconceivable (1999), starring Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson.

Throughout his varied career, Ben has been honoured with numerous accolades. In 2007 he was awarded the Special Golden Rose d’Or at the International Television festival in Lucerne, Switzerland for his lifetime contribution to the television arts. Other awards include 3 BAFTAs for Best Comedy Series for The Young Ones, Blackadder the Third and Blackadder Goes Forth; the Olivier Award for Comedy for the stage adaptation of Popcorn; and a British Comedy Award for The Thin Blue Line which he wrote and produced. His novel Popcorn also won the Crime Writers Association’s Gold Dagger Award for Crime Fiction.

Joseph Mawle

In the latter end of 2013 Joseph took up the role of Inspector Jedediah Shine in popular BBC period drama Ripper Street and in 2018 played Odysseus in Troy: Fall of a City.

He appeared in multiple seasons of HBO’s acclaimed fantasy drama Game of Thrones as Benjen Stark and in 2022 starred in the Amazon Prime hit series The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power.

Leo Bill

Leo studied Drama at the College in 1996-98.

After studying at the College Leo went on to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) graduating in 2001.

Leo is known for playing Private Jones in 28 Days Later…, Hamish in Alice in Wonderland and Trinity in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

He was awarded the Austin Texas Film Festival Best Actor Award in 2006 and the Kimera International Film Festival Best Actor Award in 2007.

More recently Leo starred in BBC drama Taboo alongside top Hollywood talent Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Peaky Blinders, Mad Max: Fury Road) and Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall, Pirates of the Caribbean)

Tobias Menzies

Tobias Menzies – Tobias studied Drama at the College from before going on to study at the RADA.

He is known for his role as Prince Philip in the hit Netflix series The Crown for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and received Golden Globe and British Academy Television Award nominations.

He also starred as Brutus in HBO’s Rome, Edmure Tully in HBO’s Game of Thrones, and the dual roles of Frank and Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall in STARZ’s Outlander, which also earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination.

Jo Joyner

Jo studied Drama at the College in the 1990s. She played character Tanya Branning in Eastenders and was rewarded for her role at the British Soap Awards in 1998. Jo has also appeared in a number of other programmes, including Clocking Off, North & South and No Angels. In 2006, Jo also won a Rose d’Or International Award for best female comedy performance in Channel 5’s Swinging.

Jo won ‘Best Dramatic Performance’ and ‘Best On Screen Partnership’ (alongside Jake Wood) at the British Soap Awards 2012.

Parry Glaspool

Parry studied Drama at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2008 to 2010 before progressing on to earn a BA in Acting for Stage and Media at the University of West London.

Parry made his Television debut on Hollyoaks spin-off Hollyoaks Later in 2013 as Harry Thompson before joining the long-running Channel 4 soap in 2015.

For his role as Thompson, Parry was nominated for best newcomer at the National Television Awards 2016.

Having received news of his nomination, Parry said, “It’s such an honour. I love every second of working on Hollyoaks and there’s such a supportive team here. I couldn’t be more thrilled. I have many great memories of my time at Stratford-upon-Avon College. The teaching I received there helped inspire me to take up acting as a career.”

Ellie Upston

Former Stratford-upon-Avon College Student Ellie Upston

Ellie studied Childcare and Education at the College and graduated in 2018.

She went on to the University of Plymouth, where she is now studying for a BEd Primary Special Educational Needs, with the aim of becoming a primary school teacher. As her career progresses, she hopes to become a special educational needs teacher.

Ellie’s choice of career was inspired by her love of working with children, and her decision to focus on the challenging but rewarding special educational needs sector was driven by her close relationship with her brother who has Down’s Syndrome.

As part of her College course, Ellie was assigned a work placement for two days per week, giving her experience of a professional, teaching environment. She was offered employment by one of her nursery placements and still works there as part of their team during school holidays.

Greg McLeod

BAFTA award winning animator Gregg McLeod studied on a BTEC National Diploma in Media at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 1992 until 1994.

As one half of The Brothers McLeod, Greg is an award winning illustrator, animator and director who has worked on a wide range of projects including animation, illustration, exhibitions and book covers.

Working in partnership with his brother Myles, Greg’s client list includes Aardman Animations, the RSC, E4, BBC, CITV, Nickelodeon, the Tate Galleries and Stratford-upon-Avon Fringe.

Greg is particularly proud of his BAFTA-nominated short film Codswallop and his work developing a series for Disney.

Greg has won a BAFTA for the film ‘Quiff and Boot’, received a host of film festival accolades, been nominated for three other BAFTA awards, and won a Webby.

Jack Knowles

Jack left school to go to Stratford-upon-Avon College where he gained ‘Student of the Year’ in the first year studying Level 2 First Diploma Business, then going onto study BTEC National Diploma for 2 years.

Upon leaving college Jack worked in a sports shop to fund his first venture and has been running his own companies successfully ever since.

Jack is Managing Director and Founder of Complete Dating Limited which runs over 100 owned and partnered online dating websites. Partners include TOWIE stars Mario Falcone and Kirk Norcross, Celebrity Big Brother star Chantelle Houghton and MTV Ex on the Beach favourite Chloe Goodman.

Jack’s other company, Limited is the UK’s biggest Armed Forces social network. The website has helped raise nearly £100,000 for the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes and was recently reviewed as ‘Outstanding’ by the UK’s leading internet magazine WebUser.

In 2014, Jack reached the finals of the prestigious UK Dating Awards for ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’. The UK Dating Awards is the biggest event in the UK industry and praised by the BBC.

Jack commented, “I spent an amazing 3 years at Stratford-upon-Avon and I’ll always be grateful. That fact is I wouldn’t be where I am today without studying on the course. Richard Silcox and Nicola Lee were both incredible and the encouragement, after a disappointing secondary school level, was second to none.”

Jake Rollins

Jake was a student at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 1997-1999 studying Media, Drama and English Literature.

After completing a degree in Film, Television, Literature and Theatre Studies from York St John he began his career working in the Drama department at BBC Pebble Mill. There he trained as an Assistant Director and has since gone on to work on high profile dramas including Hustle and Spooks for BBC and as Freelance Assistant Director worked on dramas for Channel 4 (Top Boy) and ITV (Wired). His feature film credits include Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides, Oranges and Sunshine, Nativity and Toast.

James Muirhead

James left school in South Africa for England to study Theatre Studies and English Literature at the College 1987.

When attending an RSC performance with the College, a lecturer commented “You can learn a lot about the nature of a play just by looking at the set even before the actors step on.” This struck a chord with James as he was one of only two people on the course who did not wish to pursue an acting career.

In 1990, James joined ITV Yorkshire, initially working as a grip before stepping into Assistant Director roles, and finally the Locations Department on dramas such as Hearbeat, The Royal & Steel River Blues.

Having left ITV Yorkshire in 1996, James went freelance, ultimately working as Location Manager on numerous dramas, commercials and features predominately in the north of England.

Among his credits are BAFTA-winning dramas such as Moors Murders and Appropriate Adult, feature films for Warner Bros, and commercials for Mercedes and Proctor & Gamble.

He also recently worked on the new Russel T Davis drama Years and Years, and is the supervising Location Manager on the Sky Drama Tin Star.

Juliette Thomas

Juliette Thomas studied on a two-year London Chamber of Commerce Secretarial Certificate programme from 1981 to 1982.

A businesswoman and interior designer, she is the founder and owner of the eponymous interior design business, Juliette’s Interiors.

Initially an online venture retailing designer furniture and featuring an interior design and lifestyle blog, the business now also runs a showroom on Kings Road in Chelsea, London.

Juliette’s keen eye for both business and interior design has caught the attention of national media and she has made appearances on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, ITV’s May the Best House Win and Channel 4’s Millionaires’ Mansions.

Khurrum M Sultan

Khurrum studied National Diploma in Media Production at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2004 – 2006.

After graduating from Stratford-upon-Avon college Khurrum earned a BA in Filmmaking from the University of Lincoln before earning his masters at The London Film School.

Khurrum’s documentary Hear Our Voices – was shown to the then President Barrack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. More recent projects include a film titled My Friend Erhin to be shown at The Chicago Children’s Film Festival, which is Academy qualifying so could see him nominated for an Oscar. Khurrum is also about to start work on a documentary about illegal immigration for the British Foreign Office and has just bought the rights to a book which he plans to turn into his first feature film.

Khurrum commented about his time at Stratford-upon-Avon College: “We were made to feel as if we were filmmakers from the start – I learned all the basics of what I do here, going to university afterwards almost felt like a step back – I have missed it”

Kristian Curtis

Kristian studied Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Professional Cookery at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2005 – 2008.

Kristian was named Young Chef of the Year 2011 by the British Culinary Federation and Best Commis Chef 2013 at the Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France.

He is now a chef at The Cross in Kenilworth.

Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor completed a BTEC in Media Studies and an A Level in Film Studies at Stratford-upon-Avon College 1998-2000.

Having won twelve prestigious awards previously, including the Standard Life Audience Award at the 2008 Edinburgh International Film Festival, Paul Taylor’s award winning feature length film documentary, We are Together, made a huge impression on the film industry and was released by EMI in May 2008.

Tony Tobin

Tony Tobin studied for two years at Stratford-upon-Avon College.

Tony’s first professional position was in the kitchens of the Chester Grosvenor. In 1984 he moved to London and joined the staff at the Capital Hotel under head chef, Brian Turner. This was followed by a ground-breaking move to work for five years with Nico Ladenis. Tony started off at Chez Nico in Battersea, later becoming Sous Chef at Simply Nico in Westminster.

At just 25, Tony took over as Head Chef at the South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding where the restaurant was awarded the Good Food Guide’s Country Restaurant of the year during his three and half years in charge. In 1992, he made his first television appearance in the BBC series Hot Chefs. From 1995 onwards, he featured on Ready Steady Cook and also as a presenter on Spice World and The Green Gourmet on the Carlton Food Channel.

Tony is currently serving up modern British dishes at The Dining Room in Reigate, Surrey where he is Chef Proprietor. He is also the patron of The Ketogenic Diet, intended for children with epilepsy and is a spokesperson for Spirit Pubs as part of his campaign to inspire young people to enter into the catering industry.

William Mulryne

William Mulryne studied Photography at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2013 to 2017.

He is now carving out a successful career as a documentary photographer. Inspired by photographers such as the award-winning photojournalists Don McCullin, Steve McCurry and Martin Parr, he describes himself as “an observer of things” whose work “explores isolation and devotion.”

William was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon – “it’s an amazing place with a special feeling” – and specialises in documenting everyday life in and around the town. “There is very little documentary of the town, only postcard images. There are so many interesting things and people that aren’t captured.” He started out by photographing objects – “I was a hoarder of things I found interesting. I thought if I photographed something maybe I wouldn’t need it anymore”. However, he developed a keen and lasting interest in photographing people early in his course when his college lecturers asked the students to go around Stratford-upon-Avon taking environmental portraits, and these have become a crucial aspect of the photographs he now takes on a daily basis.

Another major interest was born when, in 2016, he came across a group of travellers in horse-drawn caravans who were carving wooden animals. Fascinated by their lifestyle, he spent 12 hours each day for the next two weeks in their company, photographing their daily lives, and since then has spent a great deal of time documenting travellers’ way of life.

William has worked with various charities including the RNLI, Warwickshire Search and Rescue and Swan Rescue Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust exhibition “Living with History” displayed William’s work at Hall’s Croft. Supported by Arts Council England, it consisted of 14 framed photographs which not only give an insight into everyday life in and around Stratford but also encapsulated his feelings of nostalgia for childhood, his love for restoration and his desire to keep history alive.

William is currently preparing two books for publication: Living with History: Life in Historic Stratford-upon-Avon, a collection of his photographs documenting the town and its people, and The Horsedrawn, a pictorial account of the alternative lifestyle of a travelling family who live in traditional gypsy wagons.