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Dexter Fletcher attends Vue cinema in Islington for opening night of his film Wild Bill

PUBLISHED: 09:58 30 March 2012

Dexter Fletcher at the 2012 First Light Awards, at the BFI Southbank, in central London.

Dexter Fletcher at the 2012 First Light Awards, at the BFI Southbank, in central London.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

The star of Press Gang and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame chose Islington to watch his first film as a director.

Having mastered his craft at Islington’s famous Anna Scher stage school, actor Dexter Fletcher fittingly chose to return to his roots for the opening night of his first film behind the camera.

The 46-year-old of St John Street, Finsbury, gathered with friends and family – as well as a few surprised paying customers – at the Vue Cinema at the N1 Centre in Parkfield Street on Friday to see his directorial debut, Wild Bill, on the big screen.

The film, which is based in and around the Olympic construction site in Stratford, has already attracted rave reviews and early whispers of award nominations following its star-studded premiere in Haymarket four days earlier.

Dexter was among the first generation of students to attend the legendary Anna Scher drama club, which has been based in various locations in Islington since it was founded 44 years ago and is now housed in St Silas Church, in Penton Street.

Speaking to the Gazette, he said: “It’s where we learnt to improvise. She’s a great teacher.”

Dexter went on to find fame as a child actor in films including Bugsy Malone, The Long Good Friday and The Elephant Man.

As a young adult he was best known for his role as teenager Spike Thomson in the children’s series Press Gang.

In more recent years he has starred in the blockbuster hits Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Layer Cake, as well as television shows including Hotel Babylon.

Throughout his illustrious career, London has remained very much a part of his life. He said: “This [Islington] is my area; north and east. The city’s got a particular identity. You can see it on film in The Long Good Friday, The Elephant Man or look at 28 Days Later.”

It can also be seen in Wild Bill, which follows the life of Bill Hayward, played by Charlie Creed-Miles, who is trying to rebuild his life having just been released from prison to find two young sons he no longer recognises fending for themselves.

Dexter said: “The story could be set anywhere, but London is at the heart of the film.”

He continued: “I want a film to make me smile and, luckily with this film, I think we’ve done that.”

“There’s definitely more on the way. Maybe I’ll do a costume drama, and get Charlie [Creed-Miles] on a horse.”

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