Damian Lewis switches on Acland Burghley light show despite protest

Acland Burghley School 50th anniversary celebrations . Picture: Polly Hancock

Acland Burghley School 50th anniversary celebrations . Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Damian Lewis switched on a secondary school’s light show last night despite a protest against the Eton-educated actor taking part in the state school’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Acland Burghley School 50th anniversary celebrations . Picture: Polly Hancock

Acland Burghley School 50th anniversary celebrations . Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The Brutalist facade of Acland Burghley School, in Burghley Road, Tufnell Park, was illuminated with an array of colours last night in what staff described as a mini Lumiere London festival.

It was all to kick off an 18-month programme of events to mark 50 years since the school was built.

But the choice of celebrity to switch on the laser show sparked fury among a group of former pupils this week, who took objection to a private-schooled actor taking part in the comprehensive’s celebrations.

They launched a petition, and social media campaign to call on the school to choose one of its renowned former alumni instead, such as pop singer Ms Dynamite or musician Eddy Grant.


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The campaign leader, City University lecturer Rachel Cohen, wrote: “Damian Lewis, was educated at Eton a school that, more than any other, represents the reproduction of privilege and inequality in the UK.

“We have nothing against him as an actor or local resident, but he is a wholly inappropriate choice for this celebration of a wonderful local comprehensive school.”

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The story went national after it appeared on the Ham&High website on Tuesday.

Despite their protest, the former Homeland actor switched on the lights last night, apologising to the disgruntled former pupils.

But he added that he thought the campaigners had “missed the point”.

This week, headteacher Nicholas John told the Ham&High: “Damian has been very generous with his time. We are thrilled because he is a local person and this is a community school, and this event is about the whole community.”

He added: “We are grateful when anyone from any background comes in, if they have something of educational value to offer.”

Flick through our online photo gallery, with incredible shots from the show by our renowned photographer, Polly Hancock.

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