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OS Spotlight Tom Houghton (W 98-03)

Tom Houghton cambridge junction

My parents chose Sedbergh for me when we were living in Yorkshire. With my father being in the military and likely to be posted all over the world the fact that it was a full boarding school was a big attraction and I was fortunate enough to get an Art Scholarship; in fact I planned to become an artist when I left school. Acting was my second choice; perhaps I have managed to combine acting and creative thinking in my current profession. I studied Drama at University and did my Masters in Stand Up Comedy under the highly acclaimed and only Dr of comedy, Dr Oliver Double.

I’ve always liked the performing arts and I think one of the most significant changes in how art, drama and music are taught and regarded at Sedbergh was the introduction of girls in to the school in 2000. This was brought to life by the production of Guys and Dolls – Powell Hall had seen nothing like it before. The pinnacle for me was when the drama department took a production of The Importance of Being Earnest to the Edinburgh Fringe, it sold out for the full two weeks and was a huge success. Today, a lot of my inspiration comes from the great staff and pupils I met and who supported me whilst I was at Sedbergh. Maz Campbell, my drama teacher, still comes to support my shows with Ned; she still grades my performances – I’ve never achieved higher than a B+ which is all good fun and helps to keep me motivated.

Michael Raw, Martin Valentine, the Morgans and Neil Mckerrow are all good friends now and will come to support me when they can. School has helped me in many ways – I prepare for any gig as if I am about to take on the Wilson Run or trot out on to Busk. Also, that ability to get on with anyone has also helped; especially when I joined the Noise Next Door and we had five strong personalities and I tended to be the one that kept everyone sane. I will never forget we agreed to wear ties as part of our routine and I chose a purple one – Winder must have been on my mind.

Since I got my One Man Show at the Fringe I have done quite a bit of TV work but am still working the circuit and this is where you are really tested; it includes travel all over the world and I’m off to New Zealand and Australia soon. I see the US as a huge opportunity because it is a country where British humour seems to be welcomed with open arms. I have the added point of interest for the US market as my father was the most senior serving officer in the British Armed forces – and I now live in the Tower of London – not many stand ups can say that. I’ve worked hard to get the where I am, I love performing and enjoy making people laugh, and I see it as an opportunity to take away or challenge preconceptions or misconceptions; humanising the upper classes. I am all too well aware how lucky I have been to have the upbringing I have had – I try to be humble which, incidentally, has just been made harder by my father’s recent title which means I am now an ‘Honourable’. Sedbergh is a school where you can do so much. It taught me to be resilient, proud, modest and to just get on with it and some people say I am making a living out of something that would have most likely been a hobby. Next I want to develop ideas for a sitcom and try to develop my global brand. I consider myself to have had a good start in life.