Dr. Brian R Hazel

(at KEGS 1952-1960) writing in 2019

Having taken 2 years out after leaving school teaching English and Latin in a private school in Suffolk, I then went on to University, first doing a B.A. degree and then an M.Phil. by thesis. While at KEGS, a number of us approached Donald Tapster, then newly appointed as the Art teacher, to see if he would be interested in heading up a Drama Society. He was very happy to do so and undertook a number of productions. To raise funds for productions, we set up and ran a Tuck Shop to be open at break and in the lunch hour. The leading figure involved in this enterprise was John Crick who was a wonderfully indefatigable Manager and stock buyer! I played a number of parts in this newly formed society: the first was Lavinia in Noel Coward’s ‘Family Album’, then Lady Macbeth, followed by Marlowe in ‘She Stoops to Conquer’, Sergeant Rough in ‘Gaslight’, Tone in ‘Reluctant Heroes’ and the most thrilling of all, Hamlet. We performed all these on an improvised stage at one end of the gym, the trestles and boards kindly lent to us by Mr Palmer who owned a café in The Butter Market. (John Crick, again, wonderful as a stage manager).

I continued to do a good deal of acting while at University and was approached by a London theatrical agent to enter the acting profession – the same agent who approached my friend and fellow performer, John Nettles [Bergerac and Midsomer Murders] – John had directed me as Richard II at the Edinburgh Festival. John took up the agent’s offer and went immediately to the Royal Court, and then to Bristol and the RSC. However, since I was in the middle of doing an M.Phil. degree, I decided to finish it. I then decided to embark on a teaching career.

I got married, did a Ph.D., and spent the rest of my working life teaching English Literature and Drama in the University sector of Higher Education. My wife, Ruth (an Associate Open University Lecturer and administrator), and I celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary this year. We have two married children and 5 grandchildren who range from 3 to 16 years. After taking early retirement, I spent some 20 years as a Tutor in Shakespeare Studies and The History of Drama on a Study Abroad programme for American Students, based in Bath and in association with University College, Oxford. I continue to give lectures over the country to 6th-form students and their teachers on a range of literary and drama topics.