Radio 1's Greg James returns to Bishop's Stortford High School to adjudicate house drama competition
Students at The Bishop’s Stortford High School were offered a rare performance opportunity on Friday as their annual house drama competition was adjudicated by BBC Radio 1 Breakfast host and former TBSHS pupil Greg James.
The brief this year for the six houses was to write short plays based on iconic songs. Imagine, Take Me Home Country Roads, Tragedy, Stand By Me, Mad World and We Will Rock You made the final cut. This was a great fit for Greg, whose prime-time show has just witnessed a ratings spike of 230,000, taking the total number of listeners tuning in each morning to six million.
Greg was at the London Road school from 1997 to 2004 and was involved in a number of theatrical productions, most notably as Jeeves in P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster. He also played a narrator in Tom Sawyer and hosted several Showcase variety events while in sixth form.
He paid special tribute to physics teacher David Hows, who organises house drama and has been at the helm of countless outstanding TBSHS productions.
Pointing at the fixed stage in the school hall, Greg said: “That was the stage where I found the confidence to speak in front of people. This is where I fell in love with performing. The more people I can encourage to get up there and do it, the better.”
Each of the six plays was compelling, with some fine writing, direction and acting on display. Greg awarded the overall best play prize to Meads for their piece 'Beside You', based on the Bee Gees classic Tragedy. Waytemore drew the plaudits for their writing and use of the stage, and Greg singled out a number of outstanding individual performances.
His presence meant that the students raised their game, and Mr Hows said that the night was a real high point in the history of the competition. The fact that Greg stayed around to sign programmes, take selfies and dish out some sage advice to many students, including Max Hunt and Tom Woods from local band Riviera, was a testament to his professionalism and humility.
“You were all excellent tonight,” he concluded. “This is what it's all about: coming together, having fun and trying things. My extracurricular life here was my favourite part of school and has helped me move on to the career I now have. Keep doing it, you won’t regret it.”