The Actors Centre


The Actors Centre was established by actors for actors in 1978.

'The Actors Centre has been part of my life for more than thirty years - first as an actor and then as a tutor. It is unique and invaluable; a place to train and a place to call home; here you find both inspiration and consolation.' 
Mel Churcher, tutor

The idea was conceived by Clive Swift, Sheila Hancock, John Alderton and William Hobbs, who had a vision of creating a place where actors could network and support each other.

The Actors Centre’s aim is to continue to be recognised nationally and internationally by the creative and cultural sectors as the most prolific, vibrant and leading Centre for the professional development of actors throughout their careers. 


We are now very pleased to have extracts from Clive Swift's memoirs available for download. With an introduction Louise Coles, previous CEO to the Actors Centre, these memoirs give a detailed sense of the Actors Centre's history and how it came to fruition. Please click here to access the memoirs and we hope you enjoy them.

To find out how you can support the Actors Centre and help us keep supporting actors, click here.


Key Milestones:


  • The Actors Centre was established with Sir Laurence Olivier as founding Patron.
  • Early members included Judi Dench and Ian McKellen and Richard Briers.Tutors included Mike Leigh and Danny Boyle
  • First  workshops held at YMCA, Tottenham Court Road led by Sir Ian McKellen
  • The Actors Centre rented premises in Dryden Street;   then relocated to Chenies Street


  • Sir Alec Guinness succeeds Sir Laurence Olivier as Patron


  • Sir Anthony Hopkins leads an appeal to secure a permanent home for the Actors Centre


  • 1A Tower Street is purchased, a former industrial building in the heart of the West End. It is transformed  into a creative hub serving a growing community of actors
  • Sir Alan Bates becomes Patron and establishes the Tristan Bates Theatre in memory of his son


  • The Board of Trustees made the decision to limit membership of the Centre to actors who could demonstrate a minimum level of training or experience.


  • Julie Walters CBE succeeds Sir Alan Bates as Patron
  • The Alan Bates Bursary is created in memory of Sir Alan Bates


  • To celebrate our 30th anniversary, an ambitious refurbishment of the building takes place.


  • Rafe Spall, Joely Richardson and David Harewood become Patrons