News Column


April 26, 2013


A teenager has found TV stardom in a BBC series.

Matt O'Donnell, 14, of Harby, near Melton, plays tearaway and bully Alf Rutter in period drama The Village, starring Maxine Peake and John Simm.

It tells the story of 20th century England played out through the lives of a family in a Derbyshire village, beginning in 1914.

Matt, a student at Belvoir High School, Bottesford, spent 17 days filming in the Derbyshire Peak District last year. He appeared in the first four episodes of the BBC1 Sunday night series.

His character, who has now grown up, will be played by another actor in the last two episodes of the series.

Matt said: I'm just speechless, it was the best experience I could wish for.

I got to play a bully, which was quite difficult because it's not the sort of person I am, but it was a lot of fun.

I'm quite young for being in a production like that. The cast were just so, so nice. I thought it would be really tense, but everyone was having a laugh and making you feel welcome.

Matt kept up with his studies off the set with the help of a tutor and his mum, who was chaperone to two other youngsters on the production. He said: My school was very helpful and gave me lots of work packs to get on with while I was away.

Since I've been back it's been a bit funny because lots of pupils and teachers have been talking to me about the show and when the first episode aired my Facebook page went mad.

Matt got his break through the Television Workshop, in Nottingham, which he has attended since he was eight.

He developed his love of acting through the annual pantomime staged by amateur drama group Harby Harlequins. His mum Leona, 51, said: We went to see a panto in Nottingham - he loved it and he went to the Harby Harlequins to see if he could be in their panto.

At seven they thought he was too young, but the guy who ran it said he had something and he played in the panto for five or six years. As a result of his interest, we approached the Television Workshop when he was eight.

Matt has also appeared in Pelican Blood, a low-budget 2010 film about youthful angst and rebelliousness, as well as a couple of TV adverts.

Landing the part in a primetime BBC1 drama was a dream come true.

Mrs O'Donnell said: He has taken it in his stride. He loves it and he can't wait to do it again. It was a meaty role for him - he was the second principal child actor in the production.

He had his own trailer and he was driven everywhere and treated like a VIP.

But he's a very level-headed nice kid and it hasn't gone to his head.

The Village is gritty and a bit gory in parts. We're hoping his next role might reflect his true comical character.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

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Source: YellowBrix_Entertainment

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