Former pupils of a London comprehensive school have started a petition to stop actor Damian Lewis from opening its 50th anniversary celebrations.
Some of the alumni from the Acland Burghley School in Camden, near to where Lewis lives, think that the Eton-educated star is a ‘wholly inappropriate’ figure to perform the task because of his background.
Rachel Cohen, who attended the school in the 80s and is now a lecturer in sociology at City University in London, is behind the petition, which so far has almost 100 signatures.
The school has a number of famous former pupils, including musician Eddy Grant, Ms Dynamite and her brother, the rapper and poet Akala, and Lee Thompson from Madness.
The statement accompanying the petitions states: “Acland Burghley has a long and proud tradition in comprehensive education, creatively working with and supporting diverse local students. 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.”
Cohen told the Camden New Journal: “Burghley has a brilliant performing arts heritage. When I was there half my class were acting in 'Grange Hill’. At the moment there is a public debate about whether the acting profession is too elitist, with Eton educated people very much in the public eye. This is another reason we should be celebrating Acland Burghley’s achievements even more.
“Eddy Grant, for example, has always been incredibly supportive of his former school. We still have the Eddy Grant Cup for music. He has shown a real, ongoing commitment to Burghley. One of the main objectives of the anniversary should be to get former pupils and teachers in.”
In response, headteacher Nicholas John said: “Damian Lewis very kindly agreed to open the light show for us, to give up an evening of his time. The school he went to is of no consequence.”
According to the Journal, Lewis said that he did not want to comment on the petition, but was looking forward to the event.
Image credit: PA