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Wednesday, 13 December, 2000, 16:05 GMT
Bullying drove TV star to steal
David Blunkett and Alan Davies (middle) with pupils
Alan Davies was at the launch of the new education pack
The star of the Jonathan Creek television series - Alan Davies - has admitted being bullied at school made him depressed and even prompted him to shoplift.

Supporting the launch of the Department for Education's new bullying guidelines for schools, Davies recalled his experiences of being bullied at the independent Bancroft School in Woodford Green, Essex.

I got quite depressed and became a proficient shoplifter

Alan Davies
"I suffered at the hands of some older boys for a few weeks. They thought it would be fun to trip you up, yank your tie, call you names," he said.

"I got quite depressed and became a proficient shoplifter, which filled the time.

"I made quite a good living - I would pinch things then flog them to the other kids," he joked.

Davies said he was unhappy throughout secondary school years and his education had suffered as a result.

Caroline Quentin and Alan Davies
Alan Davies starred in Jonathan Creek with Caroline Quentin
"It wasn't until I went to a further education college that I got back on track," the actor said.

"I do know what it's like to be very unhappy as a child because of bullying and there is no framework to deal with it - you don't tell anyone, that's the whole point."

Pupils at his school were considered "posh" by other schoolchildren in the area, he added, which led to bullying outside of school.

Don't suffer in silence

Speaking in a DfEE video - which forms part of the Don't suffer in silence campaign - Davies tells how losing his mother at the age of six made him feel different to his friends.

"There was an atmosphere of relentless mickey-taking - just non-stop.

Patsy Palmer
Patsy Palmer introduces the Don't suffer in silence video
"You were almost afraid to move sometimes and someone would say some deeply sarcastic comments at your expense."

Bullies are people who feel powerless themselves and who want to have some effect on the world, he reminds pupils.

"If they can have influence over some kid's behaviour everyday, it gives them a sense of power."

Blackadder star

Also featured in the anti-bullying video is Blackadder's Baldrick - Tony Robinson.

Robinson believes he was targeted by bullies because he was smaller and "weedier" than the other children and was also short-sighted.

"Not only was I specky-four eyes, I had those teeth which stick out as well."

Tony Robinson
Tony Robinson says he was bullied because he was small
The video is fronted by Patsy Palmer, who played Bianca in the BBC soap, Eastenders.

"It's really hurtful and it makes the people being bullied feel miserable and alone - especially if they suffer in silence.

"I should know because I was bullied at school myself."

She urges pupils not to put up with bullying and to speak out against it.

The revised education pack for schools was launched on Wednesday at a conference organised by Family Service Units.

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett said: "The message needs to go loud and clear to the bullies: bullying is unacceptable, it won't earn you respect.

"For those who are bullied and their friends the message is simple - tell someone, don't suffer in silence."

  • BBC News Online is hosting a forum with strongman "Big Dave" Gauder, who was bullied when younger and who now tours schools talking to children about the problem. He will be answering your questions on Thursday.

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    See also:

    08 Nov 00 | Education
    Teenager loses bullying claim
    30 May 00 | Unions 2000
    Heads launch anti-bullying drive
    17 Feb 00 | Education
    Bullying: Schools' duty to act
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