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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 May, 2004, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Rada's famous roll-call
The UK's most prestigious drama school, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. BBC News Online looks at the careers of some of Rada's most famous students.

Sir John Gielgud

Sir John Gielgud
Sir John Gielgud was a life-long supporter of Rada

Sir John, who attended Rada for one year in 1923, is considered to be one of Britain's greatest stage and screen actors.

He established himself as a leading Shakespearean actor and was well known for his role as Hamlet, a part he played hundreds of times.

He made his screen debut in Who Is The Man in 1924. His many film credits include Oh What A Lovely War, Chariots of Fire and Gandhi, and he also appeared on TV in dramas such as Brideshead Revisited.

Sir John went on to become president of Rada and a first honorary fellow. He died in 2000 aged 96.

Joan Collins

Joan Collins
Joan Collins' first lead role was in One Sinner when she was 18

Joan Collins was born in London and made her stage debut at the age of nine in Ibsen's A Doll's House at the Arts Theatre.

She became a student at Rada when she was 16 and after only 18 months was signed to an exclusive contract by the Rank Organisation.

Her film roles include The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, Rally Round the Flag Boys! and The Stud.

Her theatrical career flourished alongside her film career. In 1980 she played the title role in The Last of Mrs Cheney in Chichester and London, and she had a lead part in a 1990 revival of Noel Coward's Private Lives.

But, undoubtedly, she is best known for her TV role as 'super bitch' Alexis Carrington Colby in the US soap opera Dynasty, which ran from 1981-89.

Lord Attenborough

Lord Attenborough
Lord Attenborough celebrated his 80th birthday last year

Lord Attenborough, known affectionately as Dickie, has enjoyed more than 60 years both in front of and behind the cameras.

Born in Cambridge in 1923, Attenborough attended Rada in 1941 on a scholarship and made his professional stage debut aged 18.

Attenborough is now seen as a British film legend - and his success as an actor spanned the period from the post-war Brighton Rock to Jurassic Park and Elizabeth in the 1990s.

In the director's chair, he won two Oscars for Gandhi, as well as making Shadowlands and A Bridge Too Far.

He became president of Rada in 2002.

Glenda Jackson

Glenda Jackson
Glenda Jackson appeared in the TV series Elizabeth R in 1971

Glenda Jackson MP was more well known for her acting than her politics before she was elected to Parliament in 1992.

She trained at Rada and established herself as a stage actress in Peter Brook's Marat/Sade in 1964.

Other notable performances included her portrayal of Ophelia in Peter Hall's Hamlet (1965) and Cleopatra opposite Alan Howard in Antony and Cleopatra in 1978.

Jackson's film career took off with her Oscar-winning role as Gudrun in Ken Russell's 1969 adaptation of DH Lawrence's Women in Love - and she won a second Oscar for her performance in the 1973 romantic comedy, A Touch of Class.

Steve McFadden

Steve McFadden
Steve McFadden did not go into acting straight from school

Steve McFadden is best known as bad boy Phil Mitchell in BBC One soap EastEnders. He attended Rada in his mid-20s for two years.

Previous jobs before joining the Academy ranged from carrot picking and street trading to plumbing and working with the disabled.

His early TV credits include guest appearances in Bergerac and Minder, and a part in the 1988 drama series The Firm with Gary Oldman.

In 2000, he took a break from EastEnders to appear in the BBC series Murder In Mind. He's also appeared in the films Buster and Kevin and Perry Go Large.

Sir Anthony Hopkins

Sir Anthony Hopkins
Sir Anthony Hopkins received recognition relatively late in life

Welsh-born Anthony Hopkins was accepted on a scholarship to Rada in 1961, and he went on to star in several notable theatre productions during that decade.

He credits the BBC production of War and Peace with gaining him US attention and it was in America that he found the success that made him a star.

Hopkins won acclaim for roles in films such as The Lion in Winter (1968) and The Elephant Man (1980), but is most famous for playing the flesh-eating serial killer Hannibal Lecter in 1991's The Silence of the Lambs, which won him an Oscar.

He has also received much praise for several other more recent movies, including The Remains of The Day and Shadowlands.

Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren
Alan Rickman with Helen Mirren in Antony and Cleopatra

Alan Rickman initially wanted to be a graphic designer, but won a place at Rada at the age of 26. After graduating, he jumped straight into a role in 1988 Hollywood action movie Die Hard.

Since then, his film CV has included Truly Madly Deeply, Galaxy Quest, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and the Harry Potter movies, in which he plays Professor Snape.

Rickman is also known for his theatre work and as a director.

He was nominated for various awards for his role in Noel Coward's play Private Lives, which ran in the West End and on Broadway in 2001/2002.

Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh received good reviews for his role in Edmond

Kenneth Branagh was born in Belfast in 1960, but his family moved to Reading in Berkshire in 1969.

He was accepted at Rada in 1979 and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company when he graduated three years later.

Branagh went on to direct and star in film adaptations of the Bard's work, including Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996) and Love's Labour's Lost (2000).

He returned to the London stage last year - after an 11-year absence - in David Mamet's play Edmond at the National Theatre.

He is well-known to younger fans as Gilderoy Lockhart in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Dame Diana Rigg

Dame Diana is probably most famous for her role as the leather-clad Emma Peel, opposite Patrick Macnee in the 1960s TV show The Avengers.

Patrick Macnee as John Steed and Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in ITV's hit cult TV show The Avengers
Diana Rigg is best known for being Emma Peel (right) in The Avengers

Brought up in India and Yorkshire, she attended Rada in 1955 before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company.

One of her early roles was Helena in Peter Hall's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and she also played Cordelia to Paul Scofield's King Lear.

Her film career included a role in the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service - and she recently appeared in the BBC costume drama Charles II: The Power and the Passion.

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06 Apr 01  |  Entertainment
'Dickie' celebrates 80th birthday
29 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
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15 Apr 04  |  Entertainment
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28 Mar 03  |  Entertainment

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