The performer who influenced the Billy Elliot story is going to be set up as the chancellor that Durham University.

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The global opera star, Sir cutting board Allen, is to be formally inducted together the university's ceremonial head ~ above Tuesday.

His journey from north-east England come the world's opera homes was the impetus for the film about a young ballet dancer.

His story was attributed as an inspiration by Lee Hall as soon as he wrote Billy Elliot, the story of a boy in a mining town who pursues his talents as a dancer, despite the expectations and prejudices of his surroundings.

"I established with a the majority of those feelings, those characters in the back streets ns knew very well. It to be all very recognisable," claimed Sir Thomas.


"I can't remember anyone from my area act what ns did. I was paving the way, it was unexplored territory."

Born in Seaham Harbour, county Durham, his to sing talent was an initial discovered when he was a grammar college boy in the 1960s - v encouragement from his physics teacher.

"Like the or not, the 11-plus to be a passport for countless of us, otherwise ns don't know what the future would have been. Mining or hefty industry and that was around as much as we can see," the said.

The head teacher request a college inspector because that advice - and also the young singer to be then passed follow me to accomplish a professor the music at Durham University, who subsequently arranged because that the youngster to walk for an interview in ~ the imperial College of Music in London.

"It was a vast thing come do," that said, describing the arrangements to walk to London and also take the steps that would lead that to come to be one that the world's most celebrated baritone singers.

Two guys from a really different era and with various stories aided to form his earliest to sing career.

The physics teacher who helped him to be Dennis Weatherley - and Sir thomas said, "even despite he would hate the phrase", he had been a "Renaissance man".

As well as being interested in science, mr Weatherley had been knowledgeable in other fields, consisting of music and literature - in one eclectic and creative way less usual now, claimed Sir Thomas.

And as chancellor, teacher Thomas claimed he wanted to encourage the links across different fields, such as science and also the arts.

"The multi-disciplinary approach is rather wonderful when you come across it. We've become much more insular - but I'd much rather deal with completely rounded people," the said.

If teacher Thomas's story is the the regional boy made great variety - he also remembers the ones who did not acquire away.

The other man who inspired him as a youth was a good singer who functioned in the pits - a male who had actually lost a leg in people War I.

A benefactor had readily available this male the chance to research in London, yet his family had turned that down and he had stayed put in his very own mining community.

"There to be a man - and there were others choose him - who had actually the most glorious voice, who might have do an worldwide career. Yet he stayed at home and worked."

Sir cutting board did not continue to be at house - his huge trip to London earned him a place at the royal College the Music, where he began studying in the 1964.

His career has actually taken him approximately the world's great opera dwellings - and also has bring away in a knighthood in 1999 and also an figure in the multi-celebrity variation of Lou Reed's Perfect Day, tape-recorded for youngsters in Need.

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His journey has actually now come full circle - becoming the ceremonial head that the school that put him top top the route to his job in singing.