Christopher Eccleston says Ken Loach’s film changed his view on “art for working class people”.
Christopher Eccleston has said Ken Loach’s Kes changed his view of “art and culture for working class people” and inspired him to take up acting to smash Oxbridge’s “ivory towers”.
The 59-year-old star recently read A Kestrel for a Knave, the book that inspired the 1969 film, for BBC Four.
He said Loach’s film of a boy who bonds with a kestrel had been the “most important cultural event” of his life.
The Salford-born actor added that it was the “greatest British film ever”.
The film, which was released a year after Barry Hines’s novel, won several awards when it was first released and was later ranked seventh in the British Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest British films of the 20th Century.
The former Doctor Who star, whose career has taken in films, television and the stage, told BBC North West Tonight that seeing it as a child inspired him to “smash down the ivory towers built by Oxbridge and public school and get into the arts world”.
“It changed my entire view of myself, of art and culture for working class people,” he said.
“It was an absolutely transformative experience.”
The film tells the story of Billy Casper, a working class boy who finds hope and fulfilment when he adopts a young kestrel and begins training it.
Eccleston said he was “completely and utterly beguiled by the idea that a working class individual like myself and my brothers and my mother and father could have a wonderful skill and could have a dream to be lifted from the pit, as in Billy’s case, or the factories in my mum and dad’s and my case”.
“I saw the film before I read the book and it changed my life entirely,” he said.
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