Simone O’Kane meets the drama teacher who has trained some of East Lancashire’s best known
TWENTY-three years ago Carol Godby opened a small theatre workshop with just 12 students on board, teaching them how to act, gain confidence and improve their social skills.
Little did she know that years down the line, she would be responsible for making some of East Lancashire’s biggest stars.
Local actors have risen to stardom thanks to Carol, including Coronation Street stars Jennie McAlpine and Sam and Emily Aston, Rawtenstall actress Natalie Casey, former Westholme pupil Helen Flanagan, and Read’s Lucien Laviscount – they were all taught by Carol, who admits that East Lancashire children are a pleasure to teach.
With more than 1,000 children currently on the theatre school’s waiting list, the mother-of-two admits she often has to pinch herself when she stops and takes in the success of The Carol Godby Theatre Workshop.
“In particular I have found that young people from the East Lancs area are very warm and down to earth and they all seem to want to do extremely well. They want to do the acting themselves and are very keen, rather than have it be forced upon them,” said Carol, who set up the workshop in Whitefield, but is now based at The Rock in Bury.
But beware the pushy mothers out there, Carol can spot you a mile off and if any parents are expecting fame and fortune over night, you might want to think again.
“There are some people who only want their children to be on TV, but I try to discourage that. I educate the parents to give their child support and help them gain confidence and improve their social skills, whilst being professional and having fun.
“I once had a woman who sent me the actual scan pictures of her twins when she was pregnant, hoping I could sign them at birth, I thought that was too much,” she said.
But with a modest approach to the success of running one of the North West’s most successful and well-established theatre schools, there’s no denying that Carol is proud of her students when she reflects on past achievements.
“When we first started out it was around the time of the ITV programme, Children’s Ward and we had so many youngsters who got parts on there. That was the start of it really.
“Our students went on to get parts on Corrie, Hollyoaks, Emmerdale and so many other soaps and they still do.
“But I am proud of every one of them, even the ones who haven’t gone into the profession.
"There’s so many students that have done well and are successful in their own right. Some are in the police, some doctors, nurses, I believe that acting teaches a discipline, that’s why they have all gone off and done so well,” said Carol who teaches children as young as three.
With her husband Pete and two daughters, Toni and Lianne, Carol also runs casting agency, Linton, with offices in Manchester and London.
“It’s an honour to have worked with so many talented people, it’s not just children we do workshop for adults up to the age of 80. We have a lot of people from Lancashire who travel to us because we have a good reputation and they are all brill. There are people that travel from as far as London to attend the workshops.”
Recently Carol relocated to new premises in Bury to accommodate for her many students. Her company now teaches fitness and dance classes.
“There’s a big problem with childhood obesity so that’s why we started the dance workshops. Dance has always been a smaller part of what we have done, but now we have bigger premises we are concentrating on dance too," said Carol who introduced Radcliffe actor Ralf Little to the part of Anthony Royle in The Royle Family.
The busy mum works every evening and confessed that she is still as passionate about her job than ever. But what is it that her theatre school that makes her students shine from the rest?
“I work every night and I love it, but I am astounded by the talented actors that have gone on and won BAFTAS, it’s an absolute honour.
“I think its because I bring out the best in them. I don’t know what it is, I guess the ingredients are right and the students go on to stay seven, eight, nine or 10 years. I also think it’s the ethos of the place, there’s not much competition because everybody is friends and they make friends for life.”