Tom Hollander explains UK classism: ‘It’s fashionable to sound posh’ these days


Personally, I love to cover the ongoing and years-long debate in the UK about posh actors versus working-class actors. British society and media is so classist, and the whole “we’re proud of people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps” thing doesn’t really exist to same extent as it does in America. Like, in America, if someone with a poor background makes it to Hollywood, they’re celebrated just like everyone else. Think… Viola Davis, who talks about poverty, for sure, but that’s because she’s starting the conversation. But in the UK, if someone working class “makes it,” they’re reminded of it constantly in interview after interview. Meanwhile, all of the posh actors have to constantly defend their poshness. In the past, we’ve covered many interviews from Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne about their poshness… and now it’s time for Tom Hollander, who is costarring with Hiddleston in The Night Manager.

Actor Tom Hollander has said the preponderance of high profile TV and film roles going to privately educated stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch is down to fashion not privilege. The Rev and Gosford Park star said there used to be lots of leading actors who were Scottish, Welsh or “working class heroes” but now it was “fashionable to sound posh”.

Hollander said: “When I started in the profession there were very visible actors who were Scottish, Welsh or regional. Lots of working-class-hero leading actors – it was not fashionable to sound posh. Now I’m middle-aged it’s fashionable to sound posh if you are the generation behind me,” he told the new issue of Radio Times.

Asked about the perceived dominance of the acting profession by public schoolboys such as Sherlock star Cumberbatch, Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne and Damian Lewis, Hollander, who was educated at Abingdon public school, said: “Isn’t it just that three actors who seem to have gone to public school are getting highly visible work? Drama schools say if arts funding is cut people can’t afford to go, but I didn’t go to drama school.”

Hollander said contemporary Britain did not face the same class issues as those portrayed in Doctor Thorne or other Fellowes dramas such as Downton Abbey or Gosford Park (in which Hollander also appeared).

“The barriers most people were facing in that period just don’t exist now,” said Hollander. “There are vestiges, but it’s nothing. Things are not as stratified and regimented as they were then.”

[From The Guardian]

I actually think Hollander has a point, in that he’s trying to say that this is cyclical. When he was coming up, it was cool to be working class and sound working class. Right now, it’s cool to sound like you went to Eton with Prince William. Maybe in ten years, it will be cool to have a working-class Welsh accent. But! I do think there’s a larger problem – and I’m merely an outsider looking in with this – of accessibility for working class actors in Britain. As much as Cumberbatch, Hiddleston and Redmayne want to deny it, their economic privilege helped their careers in enormous ways. And for all of that poshness and education, Hiddleston still didn’t know that you’re not supposed to pee on a jellyfish sting.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

178 Responses to “Tom Hollander explains UK classism: ‘It’s fashionable to sound posh’ these days”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Eve says:

    Ok, I spotted the word “Hiddleston” on the post, so I can technically post these gifs without being considered threadjacking, right?

    Oh, checked Hollander’s IMDb page, he’s in The Night Manager, along with HIddleston. So my gifs are on the clear.

    • Sixer says:


      Hi, hello, how are you?

      • Eve says:

        At the worst of my depression. Decided to come here on CB to clear my mind, try to laugh at something or that someone laughs at me.

      • Sixer says:

        I offer myself up for a shanking, if that would help?

        I also miss you like crazy and think about you often. You should find fertile ground for laughing at me on a post about Britishers and class. It’s my catnip!

      • Eve says:

        My shank broke, can you believe this? I’m not bullsh*tting anyone: my actual penknife BROKE (while I was destroying the hat that that friend mentioned below gave me).

      • Sixer says:

        Oh, noes! I will make you a new one, from flint retrieved from some wild cliff face somewhere.

        Re cats: my Old Cat died a few months back. I feel your grief.

      • Eve says:

        I’m sorry for you, dear.

        The last months of 2015 were crap for us (me and my sister). Her cat (we called him Panda) died. 2016 is not being nice either.

        I’m “at odds” with her husband (euphemism here), but we have to share the same place since the small farm attempt failed miserably.

        I don’t want to use the term “suicide watch” but that’s kind of what is going on, in a way. Last Sunday I went to the beach, just to look at the waves (somewhat the sea calms me down)…it was early, around 3 p.m. I usually go as farther as I can and just sit there, watching the waves.

        It’s my moment of peace — but, at the same time, a moment of despair for my sister. It wasn’t even 5 p.m. when I spotted her. She came to get me. I felt ridiculous but complied. I always tell her I just want to hear and see the waves. She tells me she’s scared I decide to take some steps ahead and enter the sea (and I understand her because it has already happened once).

      • Sixer says:

        Does love and solidarity finds its way through the ether? I hope so, because I’m sending loads. And I saw the most marvellous cat picture the other day. If I am any good at Googling (probably not), I’ll find it and post it for you.


        Bloody hell, so quick I found it in time to edit rather than post again! I rock!

      • Eve says:

        @ Sixer:

        Get a new cat. There’s always a cat in need of a home.

        *Picture: lovely!

        If I wasn’t so dumb with internet, clouds and links and all the stuff that scares me to death I would post pictures of the whole gang here (have you watched John Oliver’s interview with Edward Snowden? It freaked me out!). Someday I will.

      • Sixer says:

        I’ve got one left, plus a dog. But I gotsta admit, the rescue centre beckons.

        I did watch it! It was freaky! Not you!

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      Eve it is wonderful to see you in these parts again, I hope life has been treating you kindly.

      • Aussie girl says:

        Eve, you also make me laugh/smile

      • Eve says:

        @ Zapp Brannigan:

        Sorry to say the following…life has been beating me with a stick. One of my cats ran away — because the dumbass who lived in the same place (a small farm) left the window of MY apartment open, and that happened while I was in the hospital. It’s a long, sad story.

        Lost a friend (who may never have been my friend anyway) because of that. There’s still hope for Bruna (the cat) to show up, we raised the reward but I’m a pessimist.

        My heart is broken. I love that cat.

        P.S.: a little explanation: we (my sister and I) tried to see if I could live on my own, but with a certain surveillance (living in a small farm with other people — but each in their respective homes). Turns out, the experience was a disaster.

      • Lilix40 says:

        Aww, Eve, I’m sorry to hear that! I hope your cat is found soon, safe and sound!

      • Eve says:

        @ Lilix40:

        Me too, but, as I said, I’m a pessimist. I think she’s gone for good.

    • mia girl says:

      EVE OMG! In Spanish there is a saying “Te traje con el pensamiento”.

      I was JUST thinking about you last night and wondering how you were and lamenting you were not commenting here anymore. And now here you are!!
      So happy to see you! Big hug.

      • Eve says:

        Thank you, dear.

        But I won’t comment on myself anymore.

        People, enjoy the gifs I so carefully chose to post for your viewing pleasure or detective skills (*cough* first gif*cough*) or both!!!

      • mia girl says:

        Girl! I should have known those gifs would be NSFW. Ha.

        Sending a ton of positive energy your way. 🙂

      • Eve says:

        My bad. I’ll put a “NSFW” warning next time I find this kind of gifs.

    • NUTBALLS says:

      EVE!!! So good to hear from you again. I hope you’ll continue to drop in from time to time when you need to enjoy/give a few laughs. I think of you often and hope that you are well. Sorry to hear about your penknife and your cat. Well, not the penknife.

      Those naughty tumblr girls are going to find little Tommy if it’s the last thing they do… tee hee! Those gifs made my morning!

      Tom Hollander is one of my new favs. He should get more posts here ’cause he’s funny as hell.

      • Eve says:

        Thank you, dear…but I think I’m bringing this whole post down so I’ll see myself out.

        Forget my words, just look at the gifs.

        P.S.: I mean, I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but really, I can only speak the truth and the thruth for me, right now, is damn ugly.

      • NUTBALLS says:


        It’s always good to hear from you, Eve. Do check in from time to time to let us know how you’re doing. You are missed and we’re about to get a slew of Hiddles posts again with HR and ISTL coming out in the next 6 weeks. Without you, I will have to imagine your snark — which is what Sixer won’t be writing, that is.

      • antipodean says:

        Dear Eve, I saw you over on another thread, and was so pleased to see you back again! I always enjoy your posts even though you are now sadly without your famous shank. So sorry to hear about your errant puddy tat, maybe he/she has gone walkabout to have a few adventures and will return home to you soon. I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Hope your living situation improves, you do bring joy to us here on CB, and I wish huge bundles of the same back to you. If I had a smile emoji I would send it your way. Take care of your good self.

      • Sixer says:

        (Sorry to interrupt).

        Nutballs: if you want to watch Tom (and Ian McShane) in Doctor Thorne with your new pretend Britisher set up, go to It’s the network’s catch-up service. Also, Anne Marie Duff is in a new series called Murder that begins tonight.

        (Interruption over).

      • Eve says:

        @ Antipodean:

        The problem is: my cats are indoor cats. I don’t trust people here — had a cat dying in my arms because some asshole threw poisoned hot dog over the wall (that was in October 2011). The poor thing had the worst, most agonizing death. And I could do nothing except watch him dying because the poison had already reached his nervous system (or so the vet told me, that when a pet is poisoned by a neighbour or some other asshole, the owner only notices it when it’s too late).

        In this particular case, it’s especially bad because I had just moved to the small farm. I was going to let them out slowly, so they could “explore” the place — but with me, right beside them. Bruna wasn’t familiar with that environment, none were. That’s why I think she won’t come back. She’s either lost or the worst happened.

        I was in the hospital, this “friend” thought she could take care of my cats the same way she treats hers. But she didn’t have to do ANYTHING besides picking up the phone and call my sister to go there and take the cats. They would all be safe now hadn’t she (the “friend”) been so irresponsible.

      • Eve says:

        @ Antipodean:

        You should have seen how my sister carefully told me about Bruna’s disappearance. She knew I would blow up. But I was on so many meds I couldn’t react.

        But when I finally came home and heard exactly what happened, I was out of control. All the three trips we made (to the small farm) to retrieve my belongings, the former friend had been previously warned to stay the f*ck away.

        But I need to confront her (face to face, or face to brass knucle) someday. I need to tell to her face what her reckless behaviour did to me. She ripped a piece of my heart. And I’m not the forgiving type.

      • NUTBALLS says:

        Sixer, thank you! Will check it out. Have had nothing to watch as I wait for Shetland to return tomorrow night.

        This is turned out to be a fun post and I’m a bit sad to have to go frolic in the mountains before school’s out!

        Take good care of yourself, Eve. I’m sending you virtual hugs and kisses!

      • NUTBALLS says:

        Eve, if you see this I just realized that my post (which I write from my phone without reading your replies to Antipodean) came off as insensitive to your cat trauma. I’m sorry for your loss and how it happened, really.

        I was just so happy to see that you popped back in for a visit, I hope you’ll forgive me my boneheadedness. I have an affinity for dogs so I can relate to how they are like kids to those who love them. I do hope that you’ll get your beloved kitty back.

      • Eve says:

        @ Nutballs:

        There’s nothing wrong with your comments, dear. Don’t worry.


      • NUTBALLS says:

        Calling Sixer!!

        Dude, I can’t find Doctor Thorne on ITV. Is there a secret passageway to getting there?

        I saw Murder premiered last night but I didn’t see Anne Marie Duff listed anywhere in the credits. Regardless, It’s downloading and I’ll check it out.

      • Sixer says:

        Doctor Thorne doesn’t start until Sunday night sweetie. Hold your horses! It’ll be on the hub by Monday but they are not always as quick as loading up as iPlayer.

        Duff’s in the second Murder, promise:

        I am seeing good things about Thirteen (in BBC3 on iPlayer) but not watched yet.

      • NUTBALLS says:

        Ok Sixer dear… I’ll cool mah jets and wait for Sundee…

    • NUTBALLS says:

      Somewhat related to these gifs… Allegra posted a gift this morning on the most recent Hiddles post. US-based dragonflies will appreciate it especially.

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      EVE!! *HUGS*

    • Bettyrose says:

      Whoa! Throw a girl a courtesy NSFW, why dontcha? But narrowly averted crisis aside, thanks for the pics!

    • Eve says:

      Sh*t. This was supposed to be a light hearted post. Sorry guys.

      • Sixer says:

        Everybody’s heart lightened cos they saw you, lovey. Especially when you outed yourself as shankless!

      • Bettyrose says:

        *hugs* You gave me a much needed laugh this morning.

      • Eve says:

        Thank you, meine lieblings!

        P.S.: I’m crazy about the German language. But I just passed an opportunity to study it. I would have to leave the house three times a week (plus one day for Law School)…so I gave up. For every time I leave the house I need at least two tabs of anxiolytic.

        I’m going to try to learn it at home, but I’m afraid to fail (I always set high standards for myself, so if I can’t speak properly, I don’t speak at all).

        P.P.S.: Super jealous of any CBtcher who can speak German. Don’t come here to rub that in my face if you can!!!!!!!

      • Eve says:

        @ Bettyrose:

        You’re welcome (as it says that damn folder covering what we’ve been squinting at).

        Bye, guys! Thank you all for the love and sympathy.

        @ Antipodean:

        I just want you to know that your words are never useless. I come here sometimes because this is the most “social life” I’m having these days.

        Last time I left the house was to see Deadpool. And I only did it because I invited a friend (in that way I’d HAVE to go, to honor my commitment). It was worth it.

        I’ve been procrastinating my regular visits to my psychiatrist. Somehow I just don’t want to see his face (and he’s the nicest person you can get).

      • antipodean says:

        Eve, my heart breaks for your sadness, it sounds like you have been let down badly by other people’s thoughtlessness, particularly at a time when you were at your lowest ebb. Words are always useless, no matter how well meant, but please know that your CB pals are thinking good thoughts for you and wishing you the best. I have to snark a little at your choice of LEGS gifs, you did make me squint…… A LOT, but a welcome distraction nevertheless, so thanks for that.

      • Eve says:

        @ Antipodean:

        Reply is above.


        P.S.: You nailed it with your remark about “other people’s thoughtlessness”. More sh*t (than what I already told above) happened.

      • Valois says:

        Eve, I volunteer as a tribute if you need someone to practice German with. 🙂

      • Eve says:

        @ Valois:

        Well…Danke schön!

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Hello, darling! Thanks for the gif(t)s

    • I Choose Me says:

      EVE! I said hello on the Deadpool thread but I was too late. So glad to see you pop in. *muah*

      I’m so so sorry to hear about Bruna. I really hope you get her back.

  2. Babsie says:

    Interesting article. Rob James-Collier from Downton (who in RL has the thickest Mancunian accent) once said in an interview that the biggest deterrent against working class Brits trying to enter the entertainment field isn’t the accent, so much as economics. Working class Brits can’t afford the internships, programs, acting classes, etc.

    Although I do think here in America, those who sound “posh” do have an advantage, mainly because so many of us think that’s how the Brits are supposed to sound.

    • ichsi says:

      Yep, that’s how I see the issue too. Which background does Hollander have?

      • aki says:

        He’s notably posh: attended private schools (the UK “public schools” he refers to in his interview are private, fee-paying ones), then onto Cambridge.

      • ichsi says:

        @aki Thanks!

        Why did I even ask? Something like that couldn’t have been said by someone who’s actually been on the receiving end of classism.

    • WTW says:

      I love me some Rob James Collier. He’s my favorite character on Downton, though I don’t think they’ve done Thomas justice.

      • aki says:

        His arc on Downton was abysmal. They had such a good actor and wasted him after the first series. Hope he goes on to better things.

    • Leah says:

      Its very much an financial thing, a working class person wouldn’t be able to do an expensive college degree and then go on to an expensive drama school such as Cumberbatch and Hiddleston. Rada is out of the question unless you are that one person who gets a scholarship, its a very expensive school to attend. Some of the other top drama schools The royal Central school of speech and Drama and some courses at Lamda are a little more open to working class kids in that their fees are means tested. Majority of drama school students nowadays however, are going to be middle class or upper class its just the way the system is designed in our country i am afraid.

    • Bettyrose says:

      OTOH, America doesn’t expect actors to have any actual training, just sex appeal, so accent aside, if you’re a hottie, give America a try.

      • Sixer says:

        That made me laugh out loud! But stop trying to nick Idris!

      • Farhi says:

        I was just thinking about Leah’s post above , she is talking about how expensive tuition is at UK drama schools. In the US tuition is higher at state colleges for regular professions such as accounting, engineering, sciences etc. 10K a year is nothing. Private schools are 40-50K a year in tuition.

        On the other hand US actors are not required to have formal education at all. They get in through looks and connections . I am not sure that is any better.

        But if you look at law, finance, medicine – this is where the US “nobility” resides because education alone costs half a million dollars and that is a huge barrier to entry for regular people.

      • Sixer says:

        Farhi – what I think the UK has that the US lacks is elite institutions that are a thousand years old. It takes a great deal to get rid of such self-replicating, entrenched institutions (cf: we still have a monarchy). Ancient institutions like this act as very effective gate-keepers and social replicators.

        If I were American, I would keep a very close eye on how this works in the UK. Simply to guard against my younger country not taking enough notice of or attaching enough importance to developing entertainment, political and corporate dynasties. Because, given enough time, they will set up the same gate-keeping institutions as the older country has.

      • SloaneY says:

        It depends on what medium you’re going into. Most theaters expect you to have some level of training. Especially professional theaters. Movies and commercial work are different, but a lot of people jump from theater to movies and absolutely have training. Even those who didn’t go to drama school usually at the bare minimum take private acting lessons. Most people over here just work their booties off to make money to take classes or take loans to go to college.

      • SloaneY says:

        But sixer, there are other programs in the uk than Rada and lamda. I studied at one of them for a semester (it was a proper exchange, not an “American program”. Lots of middle and working class Brits. I keep up with some of them, and many are still working in the business somehow. A couple work at the BBC. A few work as actors and teachers, doing various commercial and television work, along with theater.
        America has their elite institutions as well. Most people don’t just walk into Juliard or Yale on a scholarship. Most people here slog through working multiple jobs to be able to pay for their schooling, in addition to taking out loans.

      • Nic919 says:

        There are already dynasties in the US though. Politically there are the Kennedys, the Bushes, the Clintons, the Rockerfellers, etc. And social mobility in the US is actually worse than in the UK and that doesn’t even include the racial issues that exist. Education is enormously expensive in the US compared to other countries and that is one of the main barriers to accessing elite power. Obama managed to make it because he is extremely intelligent, but he also went to school at a time where university was slightly more affordable.

        While there is the occasional self made person who manages to luck out and strike it big, it is in fact quite rare and the American Dream is really more of a myth than a reality. This was not always the case, but since the Reagan years, it definitely is.

        This doesn’t mean the UK has no elites, it just means the US does as well, but simply determines them in a slightly different way.

      • Sixer says:

        Nobody is saying such people don’t exist, SloaneY, any more than they are saying that black people don’t exist at all as US actors when discussing #oscarssowhite. What is being said is that 5-7% of the UK population (7% are privately educated and 5% also go to Oxbridge) can command 50% of the positions available in TV, theatre and film. If you think that’s fine, or does not show structural bias, then we will never agree.

        Nic919 – absolutely. Similar structural biases that operate in slightly different flavours. It’s true that the UK is more mobile, but really only if you exclude the very top level that we have here. You can go from deprivation to the middle class reasonably easily here. But breaking into the elite: that’s another matter entirely.

      • Lilacflowers says:

        @Sixer, we have entrenched dynasties now but few see them. We are nowhere as mobile as we pretend to be- and I say that as the child of working class parents who got herself a doctorate degree.

      • Sixer says:

        Lilac – honestly, I do accept that. And I know that in many ways, the plebs actually have it better in the UK than they do in the US.

        I think what I always struggle to explain is that it’s not just economic class (or wealth of parents) that counts here: it’s social cachet, conferred by highly exclusionary institutions and maintained by those same institutions. This seems to be SO much less in the US.

        It’s not just acting: it’s every sphere of prominence and influence from the law, the judiciary, the media, the politicians, right through society. In every arena, between 40% and 70% of important positions are filled by the same, self-replicating social group (social group NOT wealth group). If you come from that group, which is 5-7% of the population, you’re guaranteed entry. The other 93% are able to get in, but only if they confine themselves to what’s left after the 7% have taken what they need.

      • lilacflowers says:

        @Sixer, oh, I do understand the access and networking issues, which do exist here as well. I have encountered similar barriers in my own career and, as I now do employment law, I see it all the time in the cases I handle.

        We have had 43 Presidents, seven of them have had Harvard degrees. Twenty of our Supreme Court Justices have attended Harvard Law School and thousands have held lower judgeships. Several Supremes who attended other law schools have Harvard undergrad degrees. Countless US Senators have Harvard degrees as did multiple Vice Presidents and Cabinet members. Throw W.E.B. DuBois, Thoreau, Emerson, Burroughs, T.S. Elliot, ee cummings, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Leonard Bernstein, YoYo Ma, Mark Damon, Natalie Portman, thousands of business executives, and even a serial killer in the Unabomber and the influence is rather pervasive. Yale has produced five US Presidents, three of our current Supreme Court Justices, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Dr. Spock, Anderson Cooper, the founders of Time Magazine and Morgan Stanley. A dozen or so other universities produce similar numbers. We’re younger but class barriers exist and grow stronger.

      • Tina says:

        The other thing that no one talks about that makes it easier for people in the UK to break into the middle class (not the elite, I agree with you there Sixer) is the UK tuition fee structure. People talk about the £9k barrier, but no one ever mentions the fact that you don’t even have to begin repaying the loans until your income is above a certain threshold (£21k or so). We’re developing a significant student loan bubble of our own.

      • Sixer says:

        Tina: I was reading t’other day about the instability the US student debt bubble is causing to a financial system that nobody has really repaired since 2008. And I thought about our system. It’s a strange hybrid of graduate tax and loan, isn’t it? If you combine it with our housing bubble, it’s all very dangerous for us, too. We are looking at more than a third of loans that will never be repaid. Perhaps it’s actually a ponzi scheme!

        Lilac: I guess that brings us in a circle. Americans should beware!

      • spidey says:

        @ Sixer I worked in branch banking back in the day when they were introducing student tuition loans. The govt of the day wanted the banks to guarantee the loans, ie, take the risks. They politely declined!

        Of course, if students don’t earn about a certain amount they don’t have to pay back the loan (which makes you wonder how much some degrees are worth) and many student from abroad go home and forget to take their loans with them. It is going to be a growing problem if the system isn’t altered.

      • Sixer says:

        Spidey – and they’ve just added all future nursing bursaries to that loan portfolio. It’s extremely worrying – risks of high instability in the system, or risks of retrospectively altering the terms for loan holders, shoving thousands into penury. It doesn’t look good. AT ALL.

      • NUTBALLS says:

        The student loan debt bubble is the next to burst. They’re going to end up writing off millions (billions) in loans and capitalized interest that won’t ever be repaid.

        The US government’s willingness to lend out 100k to students regardless of the likelihood that they’ll pay it back is the biggest reason our uni fees are so high. Institutions will charge as much as the lenders will pay.

        It worries me for my own kids as we can’t help them with their fees. I expect they’ll be working part-time and going to school part-time for 5-10 years as we refuse to let them be saddled with debts that we parents are still paying on.

  3. Neelyo says:

    I love Hollander, haven’t seen him in awhile!

    It’s true in the US now, except here acting has become more like royalty. If you don’t have a Hollywood relative, it seems like it’s harder and harder to break into the business. Every newcomer now seems to have a celebrity relative.

    • Plewas says:

      I love Tom Hollander ever since seeing him in wives and daughters. His Mr Collins In pride and prejudice was best thing in that adaption too.

  4. Leah says:

    Well Hollander went to cambridge with Sam Mendes. Mendes was an early employer so he certainly has benefitted himself from the private school- oxbridge old boys network.

    The guardian has an interesting comment on how Hollander is wrong

    • Sixer says:

      Leah, if you have time, I’d really recommend the research paper I posted below. It’s very good.

    • spidey says:

      Leah, don’t know where you are, but the ironic thing about The Guardian publishing this sort of article (which they do almost weekly) is that most of their journalists are public school/Oxbridge educated.

      • Leah says:

        Oh i know spidey. They also love to do long admiring articles about posh actors.
        I am not in anyway saying that The Guardian isn’t part of the establishment. Occasionally they do have some good articles though.

  5. colleen says:

    “And for all of that poshness and education, Hiddleston still didn’t know that you’re not supposed to pee on a jellyfish sting.”

    Best sentence I’ve read all week.

    • Cranberry says:

      That’s not really fair though, it seems like everybody was duped by that Friends episode.

  6. Sixer says:

    Sorry Tom, I love you but you are wrong. It’s access, access, access. And the same elite institutions that are gatekeepers for access do not only the job of minimising working class representation, but also the job of minimising POC representation.

    I always say that, but now the research is in to prove it!

    It’s long and academic, but if any of you are actually interested in the Britisher class problem beyond thinking “thank God we’re not as bad as THAT stateside” every time it comes up on here, have a gander at the research from LSE and Goldsmiths:

    I love the title: “‘Like Skydiving without a Parachute’: How Class Origin Shapes Occupational Trajectories in British Acting”!

    • Guesto says:

      Thanks for that, Sixer. Had a quick scan and it looks like a really interesting read. *bookmarks for later*

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      Sixer! You are brilliant!

      I started to write something but then thought “Naaaaah, Sixer is going to slam dunk this.”

      • Sixer says:

        I know it’s long and dusty, but honestly worth the read.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        I make my living reading long and dusty things, and I love having some real data to support my opinions.

        And I agree with you– my first thought on reading this post was “Gee! Could the fact that funding has been GUTTED for regional theatres (and arts education in general) maybe possibly have something to do with working class actors not being very ‘in vogue’ now?”

        It’s a no brainer– if we don’t have working class actors, writers, directors, etc. working class stories and working class points of view are going to fall to the wayside. Same thing for POC. When white people control the narrative, “white” becomes the default setting and everyone else gets excluded.

      • Sixer says:

        It is EXACTLY that.

        Watch BBC premium dramas with this in mind. Then you notice that vast majority of these are either period or are about upper middle class/professional people. The plebs have to make do with soaps. Nobody’s doing this on purpose: it’s just that the commissioners choose stories that are interesting to them – that is, they are ABOUT them and people like them. Posh and mostly white.

        There are always honourable exceptions such as Happy Valley, but the narrative is controlled and rationed out by posh people.

      • TotallyBiased says:

        Miss Jupitero–
        THANK YOU for bringing that up!
        I really like Tom Hollander but he is way off base here. Successful working class actors have brought it up numerous times that they wouldn’t be able to make it in the present environment (if they were coming up as actors today) because of the lack of regional opportunities to make a living, albeit a minimal one, whilst learning their craft and making connections.

    • Deborah says:


      Shout out to my alma mater! Thanks for this homework Sixer. Its the second internet rabbit hole you’ve sent me down today 🙂

      And Eve -don’t go!! You’re not bringing us down! We love you! Who among us hasn’t felt the grim drip of unrelenting sadness? We won’t shame you for the darkness we’ve all felt at times. We’re your (internet) friends!

      And ohhh how I drool for Tom Hollander. He’s tiny, got a large head (literally) and I. love. it. Whyn’t chu bring that Cambridge accent over here, baby! How YOU doin’?

    • SloaneY says:

      Okay. I read the whole paper. Firstly– obviously the people who did the research were not and never have been involved in the acting community. They seemed to be shocked that ALL actors equated success with merely being employed. They seemed startled by the idea that having money to fall back on helps. (News flash, that’s true for everyone, but especially for actors who don’t have steady employment) They seemed incredulous that actors were expected to have a neutral, or rp, accent.
      As a teacher once told me, acting is the only profession that actively discriminates on age, gender, race, height, weight, hair color, accent– everything, really. You are a brand. You typically are a type. Your best option is to learn to get to a neutral place and be a moldable lump of clay. You have to start from neutral, hence the rp. Same here in the states. I have a twang. I had to learn to get rid of it. Because, guess what? Not every character you go up for is a southerner.
      You also have to consider that most people who come from a working class or unstable background are not going to choose the most unstable profession in the world. That’s why that guy in the paper was told to go be a plumber. You are always told that if you don’t want to starve and work and work and starve and sacrifice and get rejected 80 million times then you are in the wrong profession.
      Of course people with money are going to get more opportunities in that situation. Heck, in every situation. You don’t think there’s a network of financial institutions that only hire from certain universities? (Cont)

    • SloaneY says:

      The only part that was revelatory, (and, not really, I mean, we already knew this) was that we need more writers and producers to expand the parts for people who are women/minorities/disabled/differently oriented, etc. and usually that sort of thing has to be worked up from the bottom. Start off with small, fringe shows on a shoestring budget. Get people to see it. Visibility. Look at Hamilton. That’s the sort of thing that gets new stuff out there. That gets people energized. Not whining about how posh people have it better. Posh people have always had it better. In every aspect of society. They always have. And realistically, that’s not going to change. You can give people access to education. But they still have to work it out for themselves. Many do. Some don’t. That’s also true for the poshies as well.

    • spidey says:

      Sixer To be I think that Tom has acknowledged that he had it much easier than many because he had family money to fall back on, even if he may not have worded some of his answers to the class question as well as you would have like.

      A couple of points if I may. The tuition fees situation in the UK now is not something I approve of (and I have no personal horse in this race) but it isn’t just acting, it is all the professions. One thing that has been detrimental to would be actors in the UK is the death of repertory theatre over the last 50 years.Many actors came up through those rather than drama school, but that option just isn’t open to them now. I guess we can probably blame television for that in part.

    • spidey says:

      Once upon a time, even before I was born, it was considered very low class to be an actor, and posh parents would have been horrified if their kids wanted to tread the boards.

    • Leah says:

      Good read sixer! It really does underline how the much is decided by class and access in our society. The sad thing is we are loosing out on so much talent because of this structure. Furthermore the commissioning at institutions like the BBC drama doesn’t lend itself to working class and minority actors. As much as i love the old beeb they drive me up the wall with how safe they play.

  7. Farhi says:

    I think the fact that most actors are from connected/ well to do families is a symptom not the cause.
    Acting and arts are very risky professions, it might take 10-20 years to become successful, or never. Who can afford to spend 10-20 years chasing after opportunities? Most people (and their parents) want something more sensible that will p[ay the bills.
    I know I tell my kids – arts are good for you general development but they are not a profession, they are a hobby. Most middle class people are like that.

    If acting could provide stable income we’d have more actors from working and middle class. But speaking in economic sense we always have oversupply of young actors and for this reason he pay is low, the demand is low and it is very hard to make it. That is free market in nutshell. This situation is only can be changed by reducing supply ( for example hiring only actors from exclusive top acting schools with very stringent admission criteria, that was the case in the USSR) or providing some kind of government support to struggling actors.

  8. AG-UK says:

    It’s not just acting it’s like that in a lot of walks of life here I find. He is v good though and loving him in the Night Manager. He was at Cambridge with Hugh Laurie as well.

  9. MexicanMonkey says:

    I have to agree with him. If you look at older generations of British actors, most were working class and class was not even a conversation.

    I hate that the media and people keep focusing on who’s posh and who’s not and trying to put the posh actors on the spot to ‘admit they’re priviliged’. Which makes no sense to me because I don’t see what you have to gain from that. Like yes, people with money have it easier, isn’t that a shocker!

    In the meanwhile nobody talks about the actual problem which is the government cutting funds and making postgrad education a lot harder for people who don’t have the money to spare. But sure, let’s ask Redmayne and Cumberbatch and Hiddleston for the umpteenth time how privileged they are. That’ll solve everything.

  10. aki says:

    The thing is posh has always been ‘in’. There’s a certain cachet to that whole bohemian aristocrat thing that has generally been prevalent in the 20th Century onwards UK arts scene, from the Bloomsbury group onwards.

    When working class, or even middle class, actors get through it’s an exception to the rule. It’s not cyclical. It’s just a landscape of posh actors with a smattering of non-posh as a garnish.

    And the posh always complain when people point out that they may have had it even a little bit easier being, you know, posh, what with all those years spent at schools with full size inbuilt theatres, inbuilt networking and the inbuilt swagger that seems to follow from being able to have such opportunities afforded to you, plus an almost guaranteed follow-on to a top university followed by a place at an expensive drama school.

    A recent example is James Norton. He attended the £33,000 a year Ampleforth school, followed by Cambridge and then RADA. He complained about people being against posh people and anti-posh bias. And yet, here he is, the lead in three separate high profile shows on UK TV within the past month, with magazine covers and interviews and fashion show invites and photoshoots and sponsorship deals. Obvious anti-posh bias there, stopping him from succeeding. I think he’s a great actor and am happy he’s doing well, but those comments of his just remind me how clueless some (posh) actors are: rather than owning it, admitting it and trying to make things fairer from the inside out they just put their defensive shields up. Disappointing.

    • Sixer says:

      It’s the exact same thing as the cries of reverse racism and reverse sexism, isn’t it? It drives me up the wall when they do that.

      And I agree: money is actually the least of it. It’s the gate-keeping performed by elite institutions and their alumni in the industry who hire people like them.

    • Adrien says:

      Musicians are ashamed to show their privileged upbringing. I’m reminded of James Blunt’s open letter to minister Chris Bryant and M.I.A.’s overly defensive explanation of eating truffle fries. I think it has something to do with street cred. But yeah, for every one Tom Hardy there will be 20 Eddie Redmaynes.

    • ell says:

      thank you, aki. agree completely. i think it’s hard to understand for people who don’t live in britain (although this goes on mostly in england lbr, scotland is nowhere near as classist).

    • SloaneY says:

      While I agree with what you’re saying… you really expect (most anyone, really) in arguably the most difficult profession to make a living wage, to constantly admit their privilege and give away all their money to help other people who will take their parts? While it’s admirable to do that, it’s not all that smart from an intellectual standpoint. What do you want them to do, in reality? Deny all their hard work and just hand over their parts to the working class blokes because, well, they should and that would be fair?
      I say this as a decidedly far from posh person with a theater degree.

      • Aki says:

        I’m sorry, but you seem to be imagining a part of my post where I apparently call for jobs to be lost and money to be given away.

        I do not expect upper-class actors to give up work or give their all their earned money to working class actors. I do, however, expect them to not bleat about wealth and an elevated class status being a curse. It takes no time or effort at all to admit that privilege has allowed them to start halfway up the staircase when others, a vast majority of others, are at the base.

        So, in brief: admit privilege and don’t vociferously deny something that’s plain to see. It’s insulting. I don’t think that’s too much of a thing for them to do if they truly, as they often hark on about, value a meritocracy.

      • SloaneY says:

        Sorry, some of that was in response to sixer.

        But, in the end, does it really matter if they admit their privilege? What does that actually help? That we know rich people have an easier time in life? Well. Duh. That’s all I can say. Captain Obvious strikes again.

      • lilacflowers says:

        @SloaneY, I have been asking that same question without an answer. Unless they’re contributing money to even the playing field or offering jobs and internships or financially sponsoring those less fortunate or actively campaigning (be it publicly or privately) to change the rules to help others, I do not see what admitting one’s privilege does – and I say that as someone whose working class grandparents left England because there was no opportunity for them. I grew up in the US in a working class household. Somebody admitting their privilege would never have helped me. Student loans, work study programs, and my own hard work, both in the classroom for grades and in a series of part-time jobs to help pay tuition, helped me get an education. And even though I’ve managed to earn several advanced degrees, I still encounter barriers from not attending the “right schools” or having the networks those schools offer their alums because class divisions do exist in the States. Perhaps not as obvious as those in England, but they do exist.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        Yes, it does matter if they unpack their privilege and recognize that this really is a thing. It matters very much if you want to really change things and make the world more equal.

        One of the insidious things about privilege is that when you have it, it is invisible, and this opens up the temptation to view issues as being somebody else’s problem. This allows you to treat those who don;t have privilege as “other,” and they become more and more marginalized and thus more and more underprivileged. Inequality increases. “Who cares? I don;t live in THAT neighborhood.” “Who cares as long as I get to be married to my partner and have everything that life has to offer?” “Oh those loud people. Why do they have to make such a big deal out of nothing?”

        When you acknowledge privilege, whether it is economic, class, race, sex, etc., you are acknowledging that there *is* a problem and that it is *everybody’s* problem. That we all have to take part in creating a solution, and, most important of all, we all have something to gain by things being more equal. It makes the world better for everybody.

        Let me give you an example, a kind of obvious one:

        In Ireland recently, there was a referendum which overwhelmingly decided to make marriage equality the law of the land. That referendum would never have passed if heterosexuals ignored the issue and stayed home. Back when I was a kid in Ireland, nobody would have considered this to be a worthy issue, and no heterosexual would have stepped forward and said “hey wait a minute. This *is* a thing. We need to change this.” All of this has changed because a whole generation became willing to TALK about the issue, admit that there is a real injustice which deprives people of their basic human rights…. and that is when heterosexuals decided to be allies instead of getting all on the defensive.

        It is no different with class. Or race. Or sex. Or any other kind of privilege. These dudes have got to stop getting on the defensive and resorting to all these lame excuses for saying that this isn’t a thing. Doing this actually causes harm. It allows the problem to become worse. It allows people to ignore the issues. It marginalizes people who do not have privilege. It is insulting. There are real economic policy issues which have made our world more unequal than it has been in generations, and now we are back to Gilded Age levels of inequality.

        Another example:

        Chris Rock has a great quote in which he acknowledges how much white people owning up to their privilege and becoming better people has improved things. Here you go:

        “So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.”

        It actually works! ” The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.” Making the effort to be a nicer person actually does make a difference. Owning up to your privilege is really just about being effing kind and nice to others when you get down to it.

        Sorry LF, but you came of age at a time when student loans, part time jobs etc. would actually do the trick. back in my day, a summer job would actually go a long way toward paying for college. Those days are gone. Your grandparents actually could leave and seek opportunity elsewhere– now we have actual refugees running for their lives who are having the doors slammed in their face. The younger generation faces a whole new set of insurmountable obstacles, and it is getting worse.

        This *is* a thing and it is time for those who are in power and have privilege to own up to it. It would be kind to say the least. It is the only way anything is going to change.

      • SloaneY says:

        Voting is an active change. Most of the people on this site who are getting pilloried for not admitting their privilege HAVE admitted their privilege. They do recognize that they had an easier time and most of them give to charity or support charity in some way. And yet they are still beat over the head in every interview to admit their privilege. Tom Hollander in no way said that he’s not privileged and he has it so terribly. He said that what’s fashionable is cyclical. And in speaking specifically about 3 others in a specific industry said they happened to have a privileged upbringing.
        And even when these people do speak of “discrimination” it’s not the sort you’re thinking of. It’s specific to their profession (acting) which is and always has been discriminatory based on every single thing you can be judged for. It’s the nature of the beast. Acting is not the same as your job at the local grocery store. It does make a difference what gender, race, accent, height, weight you are. Look at the Nina Simone post. She’s getting crucified for not being the right color and having the wrong shaped nose! He (and others, i.e. Cumberbatch, Hiddleston, Redmayne) when they speak of having it tough sometimes because of their accent or bearing, are speaking specifically to that experience in the acting profession. That’s what EVERY actor goes through. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
        And I still think having people admit their guilt is solely an exercise in pointing your finger at them and making them feel guilty so that you can feel better about yourself. I made a rich person feel guilty. Yay me. It doesn’t put food on your table, a roof over your head or an education or a job.

      • Farhi says:

        “exercise in pointing your finger at them and making them feel guilty so that you can feel better about yourself. I made a rich person feel guilty. Yay me. It doesn’t put food on your table, a roof over your head or an education or a job”

        Exactly. People get angry at injustice and they want revenge. That is what it is. And it is very human. So much of the class discussion is often the resentment and the need for revenge and I’ve seen were it leads, what kind of society it leads to. Look at Russian and French revolutions – how many innocents died over the revenge? And it was pointless. It didn’t make things better.

        My own grand-grand father was shot point blank by the revolutionaries just because he was a “capitalist”, he owned a factory. The kids were left orphans, with no means to survive. The factory never ran again. Sure, the revenge probably felt good to the people who killed him for a about 5 sec. and they “made him pay” and they made him feel the despair they felt themselves working 20 hours days to feed their family. But did it help anyone? No.

      • Lilacflowers says:


        Sorry but Obama did not get elected because anybody “owned their privilege,” he was elected because people voted for him. They took action instead of making little speeches about privilege. Action is what is necessary for change, not little Acts of Contrition. It’s like going to confession every week then committing the same exact sins. On another of these threads, I detailed one of my recent cases in which I advised a client to settle a discrimination lawsuit. The manager they had hired was all into “owning privilege” but that wasn’t stopping her from age and race discrimination. I also recommended that they fire her because she was a huge liability. They did.

        And, Miss Jupitero, I STILL encounter class barriers because I grew up working class in a town full of immigrants and attended a huge public high school instead of in one of the affluent suburbs ringing 128 or a private school like many of my colleagues. People “owning their privilege” doesn’t change that. People extending opportunity and sharing access with those outside their comfortable networks does. I’m not denying privilege exists and it erects barriers against people like myself. I’m saying “owning one’s privilege” and doing nothing more helps nobody but the conscience of the person doing it.

      • Cranberry says:

        @SloaneY, @Farhi

        Exactly. It’s not that anyone is disagreeing that there’s not an classist, inequality problem in our society. That’s nothing new, and the disparity has become very obvious this past decade to say the least. And yes the classism is more recognizable and entrenched than in the US, but so is the visceral cultural resentment. This is what so many Brits don’t seem to see that other do. As American I would like to see way way more discourse about modern classism and what is looks like in our culture. So many people here are hungry for this discussion as demonstrated by Bernie Sanders bringing the topic and the blasphemous word “socialist” back into the public (televised) arena. (if you hadn’t noticed the rest of our political landscape have become a reality circus show).

        BUT! Although I would wish to see more open class discussion in our cultural dialog, I don’t want it to become what I see in Britain where a meaningful discussion and activism is derailed into tearing down anyone that is privileged which just makes people seem jealous and entrenched in the same old cultural resentments. Like you say. It doesn’t really help.

        It just offers a symbolic target to direct their anger at even though that individual posh target may not be able to do anything significant to fix the problem except say they’re sorry for their privilege, and that things should be more fair etc. But that doesn’t seem to be enough either.

  11. Greenieweenie says:

    I just know whenever I hear those Princes speak (or their father), I can’t help but laugh. That accent. It’s too much. Like they open their mouths and vomit out a shower of flowers and tinkling bells. I hear tweeting birds in song, not words. Go sing in a corner.

    • SloaneY says:

      Lol! I think the same thing whenever I hear the royals!!

    • Lilix40 says:

      Honest observation here, from a non-native english speaker: I always thought they sounded very… idk, as if they had an egg in their mouth. Prince Charles, Her Maj, the older royals do sound as you described, though, haha. But I am sure it is just my untrained ear tricking me!

  12. LAK says:

    when I was a teen all through the 80s/90s, apart from old school actors like the Ealing Studio/Rex Harrison lot, every actor/singer and what have you seemed to come from a working class or middle class background or they pretended to be. Nigel Havers was not cool at all. He had to wear his poshness like a caricature, whilst other posh actors could only get jobs in Merchant Ivory productions and no where else. Exception Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley who poshed themselves UP many leagues higher than their true class and turned that into their schtick.

    Everyone went out of their way to pretend they were not posh. Complete with Mockney accents. Right upto some point in the early 00s where it suddenly flipped. As an example, Guy Ritchie, mockney accent intact, really played up some mythical working class upbringing right upto the moment it wasn’t profitable or cool and now he can’t stop playing Lord of the Manor.

    It’ll be harder to flip the switch back, real or pretend, this time because over time, economics, deliberately or not, have shut out everyone who can’t afford the grassroots training and living.

    You don’t hear so much of actors coming through training schemes like the one Idris Alba took, that meant they could bypass RADA (as an example) and still make it.

    There are so many actors who made it then, as a result of training schemes, who wouldn’t do so now because opportunities aren’t available.

    • Sixer says:

      We kind of had a shortish glory period, didn’t we? From the Angry Young Man era of the 60s, up to the early 00s. And now we’ve reverted to type. A lot of advances have been undone in the last decade.

      I suppose it could be dragged from me that there is a cyclical fashion aspect to it all, but I honestly think it’s a very superficial aspect.

      (That’s me being concessionary! I’m not very good at it, am I?!)

      • LAK says:

        I think you are 150% right in terms of this being a superficial cyclical thing. For a start there haven’t been enough cycles to truly determine if it is indeed cyclical. Before the Angry young man of the 60s, everyone was posh or pretended to be.

        The 60s – 00s flipped the switch to working class/middle class – including musicians, and now we’ve gone back to pre-60s Posh or pretending to be, musicians included.

      • Sixer says:

        If you ally to the cycle, the post-WWII political settlement of council housing, a welfare state and free education, you can see how there was a flowering of non-poshness for a while.

        Being the anti-classist ranter that I am, I’m pessimistic about the cycle. I think the marketisation years from Thatcher onwards (including New Labour) and post the 2008 crash has seen pretty much the entire dismantling of that post-war settlement. There would have to be a seismic shift to get it back again, and it doesn’t look likely.

        We’ve already lost a generation of potential. Do we really think the next one won’t be lost too?

      • Cranberry says:


        In the 60s Richard Burton took every one by storm. He was the “It” man that everyone Brit or merican wanted to emulate. I kind of see Russel Crow and Christain Bale as the modern versions of Burton (mostly Crow).


        Very much agree with your historical and economic system turning to a mostly marketing system like we have here along with the dismantling of the labor unions and any effective labor representation in gov.
        Have you ever listened to Chris Hedges? He was a journalist for the Washington Post but was cut after writing a critical article about US and the Iraq war. Now he’s an educator and international speaker on social-economics and the political elite in US. A lot of people put him right up there with Chomsky and Zinn.

      • Sixer says:

        Cranberry: Chris Hedges articles come up regularly on a couple of mailing list lefty aggregators that I subscribe to. I love him. So passionate. And he still writes properly long form stuff, which I also like, regardless of politics.

      • Cranberry says:

        Sixer: Yes, he’s very articulate and thorough and very sobering. I don’t know why I thought to ask of him. There’s so many good writers and activists doing good work out there, I guess cause he’s an American with such a knowledgeable analysis of the whole system including elitism.

      • Sixer says:

        I think you must know me, is all!

        I am interested in politics, but not so much party politics. And most interested in inequality generally, whether that be class, race, gender or whatever. The US has some BRILLIANT academics in this area and not just the black liberation people. I particularly like Elizabeth Anderson at Michigan. It’s nuts to me that we both have such extensive bodies of work about it, but neither of our party political systems reflect it AT ALL.

        Generally speaking, though, I think here in the UK we look at the US vis a vis race and think “we’re better than that” so we don’t need to bother so much about it (we bloody well do!) and it also goes vice versa with class.

    • SloaneY says:

      Ok, maybe this is because I’m American and we’ve never had free university. Most in this country have to either take out loans or work a lot of jobs to pay for their acting training. This is the most difficult business to earn a living. 98% don’t. Of course there should be more funding for the arts. But beating up on posh people isn’t going to help. In fact, if you’ve ever done any kind of arts fundraising, you’d know that most does not come from the government, it comes from the posh people!
      Should more lower class people have access to arts education? Of course! Does pointing accusatory fingers at those who are most likely to help advance that? Not so much. You catch more flies with honey.

      • Sixer says:

        Arts funding in Britain does not come from the posh people. It used to come from the government. Now it doesn’t. So there isn’t any. Ask Kevin Spacey about the fundraising culture shock he got when he did an artistic director stint here.

      • Farhi says:

        “But beating up on posh people isn’t going to help. In fact, if you’ve ever done any kind of arts fundraising, you’d know that most does not come from the government, it comes from the posh people!”

        In the old Tzarist Russia there was a term “metzenat” , basically a sponsor of arts. Most nobles and influential merchants were expected to sponsor arts as that was seen as a part of supporting the culture and being educated. The artists always needed sponsors, they never could make a living off their art. And it is the same in the current day Russia.

        I have so many thoughts on this since one of the main purposes of the USSR was to eliminate class differences and practically everything discussed here has been tried in one form or the other. The classes were eliminated ruthlessly (by killing most of the nobles) only to be replaced with different groupings – families of influential party members (the new nobility) vs. everyone else (then), rich vs. poor (now), working class vs. intelligentsia. A book could be written on this subject. For example, the language – Brits use language as a shortcut to identify social class. In the USSR the purity of Russian language was enforced ruthlessly in school. Everyone pretty much speaks the same Russian now. No longer people’s origin can be identified by the way they speak. But that was a very totalitarian approach. Was it a good or bad thing? Who knows. There are now other things used instead to identify your social group such as – what do you talk about after you’ve been introduced.

        In the end I think the most effective way to more equitable and fair society and equal opportunity is free education on all levels, including elite. Ironically, education is probably the hardest to access in the US, the wealthiest of the developed countries.

      • SloaneY says:

        Ok, then it is really different here.

        -farhi– you are absolutely correct.

      • Tina says:

        SloaneY, you are absolutely right. It’s a completely different world over here in that elites do not give nearly as much to charity in the UK as they do in the US. People of all classes give to charities benefitting the poor like Save the Children, but the notion that elites should donate to the arts, universities etc just doesn’t exist here like it does in the US.

      • Cranberry says:


        Yeah, but in the US the elites pay a way, way smaller tax rate, and they hide their money in tax free off shore accounts. Our public agencies and programs don’t see one dime of Billions of tax dollars. So while it’s nice that a few responsible, thoughtful philanthropists donate and contribute to the arts in the US, the robustness of our entertainment industry is because of commercialism leaving our government and some generous donors to finance a small national public arts program that has also suffered funding cuts in these recent bad times and has to take money from underwriters (another name for corporate sponsorship).

      • Tina says:

        Oh, I mean, I think arts funding absolutely should come from the government and I’m happy to pay 40% in income tax to support that (not more). I do think that the US elites’ willingness to give to the arts and to universities is a good thing though – I’d like to see more of it in the UK, in addition to public funding of the arts.

  13. ell says:

    i don’t agree. british’s classism is far more rooted and complicated than that, and has absolutely nothing to do with fashion. people talk about it because it’s a real issue, and it’s always been.

  14. Sarah01 says:

    Love him he’s so versatile. His comedic timing is impeccable!

  15. Louise says:

    I dont think a working-class welsh accent will ever be in..I know..because I am welsh!

    • SloaneY says:

      Aww..I like welsh accents.

      • Louise says:

        ha ha it has to be the “right” welsh accent. People people cringe at certain accents and they always seem to be the people representing Wales! But yes, a lot of people like welsh accents outside Wales.

      • NUTBALLS says:

        I confess I watched Hinterland primarily to listen to the accents. I really enjoy the Welsh accents I’ve heard, especially from around Cardiff.

        Also, I’ve been working through the Century Trilogy and the first book features a Welsh family and just hearing John Rafter Lee narrate it and effect the various accents was such a treat for my ears. I hope he did it justice!

    • LAK says:

      Genuine question, what would you class Richard Burton’s accent. There are interviews where he speaks in standard RP English and others in his native Welsh accent.

      And I must admit ignorance of regional/class accents in Wales. Are you able to give a broad overview? Pretty please 🙂

      I’m good with Scottish accents (even though I can’t understand a word they are saying), and can place them regionally.

      • Louise says:

        Hi – Richard Burton doesn’t really have a welsh accent as such. If you notice, Anthony Hopkins has a similar accent and I am sure I read somewhere that he based his accent on Richard Burton’s. I can hear Anthony Hopkins’ accent but you have to listen really closely for Burton’s. His is RP English.

        Catherine Zeta Jones has a really strong west Wales accent which she really tries hard to cover it up by using an American accent. She lapses in and out of it in films and also in interviews which is highly amusing. i remember watching Traffic and she says “just shoot him in the head!” and it was so welsh!!!!!!!

        North Wales accent are very strong and distinct because mostly welsh is the first language.

        South Wales it is more “valley” (and I dont mean like valley in California ha ha). The cardiff accent is also distinct from the valley accent, and reminds me a lot of a strong new york accent – distinct like that (I used to live in NY).

      • Louise says:

        btw, I think Sacha Baron Cohen is kind of welsh, too?! on his dad’s side.

        That’s where he got his humor from!

      • Cranberry says:


        You mean not, “Like, eh, Oh my Gaaud”
        Valley talk?

    • Sixer says:

      Louise – my mother was Welsh and bilingual. I love all Welsh accents, north and south!

      In fact, you remind me that I downloaded the all-star Under Milk Wood from BBC2 Wales iPlayer yesterday and I might just go put it on RIGHT NOW.

      • Louise says:

        Wow Sixer! Where was she from? Welsh people are EXTREMELY friendly but they dont travel much – not many of us leave Wales and welsh people are always interested in other welsh people if they have travelled and lived in another country. They are like ooooohhhhhhhh I would love to go there! (but would never leave mam and dad). ahhhhh bless.

      • Sixer says:

        Grandmother from Llanelli and grandfather from Cardiff. They moved from Wales to London for work before WWII. Grandmother and my mother’s older siblings evacuated back during the war, then they stayed for a while after the war (my mother was born in 1946!) before moving back to London. My grandparents mostly spoke Welsh at home, hence my mother speaking it. Second transfer back up to London was due to grandfather working for the GWR as was!

  16. Josefina says:

    I’m talking out of my ass, but I thought British actors were posh for the same reasons they are over here: Acting is an extremely competitive industry and the vast majority of them have a hard time booking jobs. Actors here more often than not come from wealthy families, because they can hardly make a living from their own wages.

    Sometimes I think Americans are so used to the glamour of Hollywood, they forget how unprofitable the acting industry at large actually is.

  17. Anon says:

    I honestly don’t care about background stories. As long as the actor or the actress can act I am happy…. What does the background story have to do with the quality of an actor? There are tons of rich people who try to act but sound like Paris Hilton… Who btw is rich, too….and tried to act. Big failure.

    • Cranberry says:

      Good point. Not to take away from the systemic inequality problem, but just being rich and having contacts does not guarantee success in this industry. Yes, it makes it much more easy. No argument there, but even the poshies gotta prove they’re talent and skills. At a certain point if you aren’t willing to work hard and develop your skills, you’re not going to get too far in this industry unless you’re very marketable which you don’t have to be posh for, or you’ve got enough money to fund your own productions like the Kardashians.

  18. Dangles says:

    Working class and poor is not the same thing. I’m proud to be working class and don’t have any desire to escape it (“make it”)

  19. chelsea says:

    It always was, Tom.

  20. Dick Movei says:

    I don’t care about Hollander and the weighty topic at hand. I’m just here in case Rob James-Collier ever reads this. ROB I LOVE YOU.

  21. Spiderpig says:

    Hollander’s an idiot. I’m working class working in the industry. All that happens when being working class is trendy is that loads of posh actors put on fake working class accents and make even more money by co-opting working class culture.

    • spidey says:

      You mean they act? Like Hiddleston speaking in a different accent for ISTL?

      • Sixer says:

        No, she means that whether the “fashion” is for posh or peasant productions, posh people dominate the roles anyway. The inequality of opportunity does not change.

    • Cranberry says:

      Didn’t someone say up thread that historically working class actors pretended to be posh too. It was customary to learn RP in order to play posh roles which many working class actors did in fact do.

      Question: Was Laurence Olivier posh?

      • Sixer says:

        Don’t start us off on the history of the acceptability of accents (regional or class) in British media and acting, Cranberry. We’ll be here till the twelfth of never! Until the 70s/80s, you had to speak RP in order to get ANY role, or even present the regional news (not national news) on TV!

  22. Miss Jupitero says:


    Not to threadjack, but y’all need to know about this:

  23. TotallyBiased says:

    @SIXER! Just wondered if you’ve seen LEGS’ recent Time Out interview with Tom Huddleston. He makes some very nearly definitive statements that I thought you might like–or at least not hate!
    ‘It is unhealthy for any society to be represented in any sphere of life, including the arts, by one social group. I understand that. I strongly agree with that. More must be done to keep the doors open for everyone. The picture of your life shouldn’t have to be dictated by the circumstances in which you were born. Everyone deserves the chance to follow their chosen vocation. Britain is not yet a meritocracy. I hope that changes in my lifetime. If I could think of an easy solution, I’d advocate it right now. These are complex, uneasy times.’

    • TotallyBiased says:

      Oops….I’m wrong, the interviewer is Dave Calhoun. Whatever.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      It is a good interview

    • TotallyBiased says:

      And before folks pile-on with the actions vs words debate, he does show support more tangibly. He is an “associate actor” (he lends his name and does events to fundraise/increase memberships) with a regional theatre, the Nuffield:
      “We’re marking our 50th anniversary season with the appointment of a team of new Associate Actors who will act as ambassadors for Nuffield and support our vision to be the leading producing theatre company in Southampton. Our new Associate Actors are: Samantha Bond, Laura Carmichael, Tom Hiddleston and Celia Imrie”
      And he, along with Jeremy Irons and others, support RADA students, with actual tuition assistance in at least one case. It’s hard to get more details because (shocker) it isn’t widely publicized.
      He may well do more, this is simply what is known.

    • Sixer says:

      TB: You will be glad to know that I think this is a step forward! Baby steps, baby steps.

      BTW: just to note that I don’t expect philanthropy from actors, posh or not posh. What I expect is that they do not cry reverse classism when they are asked about this issue, as LEGS has done on multiple occasions. I have contempt for posh actors who do this, just as I have contempt for white actors who cry “reverse racism exists too” when asked about structural inequality with regards to race in the profession.

      Do I think structural inequality with regard to class (and race) in acting should be addressed? Yes. Do I think this is the responsibility of posh actors? No. Do I think it is the responsibility of posh actors not to prioritise their own self image by pretending the inequality works both ways? Yes.

      • lilacflowers says:

        Those points I understand and, to some extent, agree. I certainly understand your wish for a level playing field and the need to acknowledge that leveling is needed and the frustration with those who deflect.

        It’s the demands for the Posh Acts of Contrition from some, as if those change anything for the not-Posh, that I don’t get. Because they don’t change anything other than, perhaps, to ease the conscience of the one making the declaration. An American example, using the person who represents the worst in wealthy Americans to me – and I have had the misfortune to have to deal with her numerous times. If Ann Romney owned her considerable privilege, it changes nothing for anyone. If Ann Romney owned up to her considerable privilege, said “my bad,” and stopped writing off $78,000 a year to the working US taxpayers for the care of her horse, AND called her US Senators and representative and said: “people like me shouldn’t be able to write off $78,000 a year for the care of a horse to the working US taxpayers, please change that law and while we’re at it, can we apply means testing to spousal share Medicare because people like me can afford their own health care instead of making proposals to cut Medicare benefits to the actual workers who, unlike me, actually paid into the system?” that makes a difference.

      • NUTBALLS says:

        I too think this was a good interview and his answers to classism were much better than before.

        Lilac, I don’t hear people demanding that poshies be contrite for their poshness and find Romney examples of the wealthy making themselves wealthier at the expense of the working / middle class very aggravating. I would like to see less defensiveness and complaining about reverse classicism and more ideas being generated as to how the inequality can be mitigated. Until those in power (not necessarily Tom) decide to do something to combat it, it will only continue. We see this over and over again in history — those who are being treated unfairly have to raise enough of a stink to get enough of the powerful on their side, advocating for them. Only then do you see real change.

        I appreciate Tom’s willingness to admit there’s a problem and that he doesn’t know what the solution would be. I hope he continues to think about it and talk to others in the hopes of working towards a better, more equitable society that he’s a part. Actions ultimately determine how important a cause is to someone, not just words.

      • lilacflowers says:

        @nutballs, those demands appear on every thread here about class differences and the “own one’s privilege” arguments. The “own one’s privilege” statements are very different from advocating on behalf of a more equitable society. And again, I say this as someone who grew up working class in a working class immigrant community and who has used the education I received to advocate professionally to the federal government and several state governments on behalf of those who live at poverty level in this country and now consults with employers on how to ensure their workplaces are diverse and compliant with all relevant federal and state anti-discrimination laws, which includes age, disability, orientation, and religion, in addition to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual harassment.

      • Sixer says:

        Actually, I have to say, most of the time on these boards, someone like me will say “X is a right arsewipe for saying that” and the subsequent posts in defence of X are the ones taking “arsewipe” to mean “I demand that X undertakes a gazillion acts of contrition to satisfy me RIGHT NOW”.

        A lot of straw-manning and reductio ad absurdam goes on a lot of the time.

        An explanation of the structural inequality in the UK does not equate to such a demand and neither does taking exception to a posh actor claiming reverse classism. Jus’ sayin’.

      • lilacflowers says:

        @Sixer, I do understand the difference between what you’re saying and the “own your privilege” brigade.

    • lilacflowers says:

      He mentions making a documentary about South Sudan in the interview. I’m interested in learning more about that.

      • NUTBALLS says:

        He mentioned they were making a documentary so I wonder if that will be publicized soon.

      • TotallyBiased says:

        Yeah, I caught that in passing as well. Presumably what he was doing when we saw those couple of pictures temporarily on the photographer’s FB page.

      • lilacflowers says:

        @TotallyBiased, he already wrote a newspaper article about the experience of the visit, but not the film, that was published back in the fall.

    • EnnuiAreTheChampions says:

      I thought he did well here. It was a good answer, acknowledging the problem without defensiveness.

      In fact, did you guys notice that he raised the issue himself? The interviewer asked a general question about inequality and TH was the one who applied it to himself, his education, and the acting profession. I suspect he or someone working for him realized he was not coming off well with his previous answers, thought through the issue, and came up with a more well-reasoned and well-thought-out answer. And that he wanted to get it in there whether he was specifically asked about it or not. 🙂

      I think this was well done and that the rest of the interview was interesting as well.

  24. lilacflowers says:

    Radio Times is reporting that the BBC and the Le Carre family are in negotiations for a sequel that would include some of the same characters. (I suspect that the most likely characters to continue would be Angela Burr and the bureaucrats but we shall see.)

    • EnnuiAreTheChampions says:

      That’s my guess as well. As much as I would love to see more (and more and more) of TH as Jonathan Pine, I know he likes to stretch himself with diverse projects, and Loki has probably given him his fill of playing the same character over and over.

      I would watch another season with Burr, with or without TH. I’m really enjoying it so far.