The Actors Centre

The Memoirs of Clive Swift

21 June 2016

Actor and Initiator of the Actors Centre

We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to release some extracts from Clive Swift's memoirs about the Actors Centre and its conception.

You can check out these extracts here and they are also available on our History page.

But to give you a sneak preview, here is the introduction to the memoirs written by Actors Centre CEO, Louise Coles.

Thank you to Clive for all that you have done, and long may the Centre continue.


Introduction by Louise Coles, CEO of the Actors Centre

It gives me great pleasure, with Clive Swift’s approval, to be able to post Clive’s memoirs about the Actors Centre’s early years on our website for all to read and for posterity. These memoirs are a fantastic, historical, but also a wonderful, colourful and humorous account of the beginnings of the Actors Centre up until 2000. It is hugely important that we document our heritage as an organisation that will soon be 40 years old and one that is seen by many around the world as an exemplary model of how to provide ongoing support for the acting profession.

I also want to take this moment to say a few words about Clive Swift and not about his great acting ability per se, although this should be mentioned and probably deserves a whole section of its own, but more about his role in relation to the Actors Centre.

There is no coincidence that whenever I speak to many actors, along with the Managers and Administrators involved in the early days of the Actors Centre, that their main comments are always the same “without Clive Swift there would have been no Actors Centre”. Whilst indeed there were others involved in a co-founder sense, Sheila Hancock and John Alderton to name a few, someone had to initiate the idea and fly with it. Clive did just this! Indeed, Clive likes me to call him the initiator rather than a founder and he is keen to regularly remind me that there were in fact a number of co-founders.

Clive’s passionate belief in the need for something such as the Actors Centre manifested in his tirelessly working to gather political and financial support, to commandeering the late and great Sir Laurence Olivier to become our first Patron, to using a number of his own personal connections to ensure the Centre’s ongoing success, and in not giving up when, more than once, its very existence came under threat. Clive’s input over the years has been immense and whilst he no longer sits on a committee or undertakes a regular workshop, he still to this day supports us, has a keen interest in many aspects of our development, and is never shy to offer solutions, advice and critique concerning some of the challenges we still face. I have personally grown very fond of Clive over my time as the CEO of the Actors Centre as he really is one of those unsung heroes that never really demands attention for what he has achieved but really should. 

Clive cares hugely about the Actors Centre and its ongoing legacy to this day, and printing his memoirs here is, in part, my homage to him but also will ensure that we capture the early days of this most wonderful organisation and his part within this.


Louise Coles

Chief Executive 2011 – Present