A CONTROVERSIAL film is set to catapult a rising star from East Lancashire into the limelight.

The British film Boston Kickout, on selected release from today, has been praised by the critics for its portrayal of angry and bored youths in Stevenage.

The film stars 26-year-old John Simm, a former pupil of Edge End High School, Nelson who is carving out a career for himself in films and television.

As well as receiving praise from BBC film critic Barry Norman and the movie magazine Empire, the role also won him a Best Actor Award at the Valencia Film Festival in Spain, beating veteran American star Dennis Hopper who was also nominated.

With its portrayal of disaffected youth, the film has been compared to the Scottish hit Trainspotting. But it's a comparison that angers John.

"It's nothing like it and our film was actually made two years ago, before Trainspotting," he said.

The film has angered Stevenage Council who objected to its portrayal of their new town as grim and soulless. According to the producers, Stevenage Council did everything it could to prevent shooting and even tried to ban it from being shown in the town.

John, whose parents Ronald and Brenda live in Temple Street, Nelson, plays Phil, an idealistic youth who dreams of escaping the post-school reality of unemployment, alcoholism and drug abuse.

He said: "I was raised in a small town and I had to leave to prove that I was bigger than this place and to prove to my dad that I could do it. There are all sorts of parallels."

John was born in Leeds but moved to Nelson when he was five. His father was a musician who performed on the Northern club circuit in the sixties and seventies.

But John was bitten by the acting bug at Edge End School and was encouraged by his drama teacher, Brian Wellock.

He then went to drama school in Blackpool and a further three years at the Drama Centre in London. Boston Kickout is John's first feature film, although he has had numerous roles on television in series like Oasis, The Bill, Cracker and Men Of The World, as well as lead roles in the dramas Meat and Chillers - The Mirror Man.

John is already working on his next movie role as a paparazzi photographer in Diana and Me which also features Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan.

And, as if that wasn't enough, John finds time to play guitar and sing in his band, Magic Alex.

"I'm doing the music for the love of it and if anything comes of it then that's a bonus," he added.

Boston Kickout is on general release soon.

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