A BUDDING actor has echoed the fears of Dame Helen Mirren that only young people with rich parents will be able to afford to consider careers in acting.

Tom Stocks, from Harwood, was forced to defer for a year at East 15 drama school in London in 2013 after competing with more than 3,000 applicants to land one of just 25 places on the course.

He is currently working as a chef to try and raise money towards the £12,000 tuition fees needed to fund the Master's course and pursue his dream of becoming an actor.

Upon being awarded a BAFTA Fellowship lifetime achievement award last month, star of stage and screen Dame Helen spoke of how difficult it is for working class youngsters to get into the theatre.

Mr Stocks, who went to Hardy Mill Primary School and Turton High School, said: “There’s so much raw talent in working class areas that’s not being given the chance.

“It’s becoming impossible for working class actors to try and break through into drama schools.

“Drama school shouldn’t just be for rich kids. I want to prove it can be done.”

After school, the 21-year-old completed a BTEC National Diploma in Musical Theatre at Pendleton College, Salford, before going to the University of South Wales where he achieved a 2:1 degree in Performing Arts.

He has written to individuals, trusts and charities to try to raise the cash and so far has about £3,000.

Mr Stocks, who is living in London with his girlfriend and working full-time, also hopes to get acting jobs before embarking on the intense course in September, which he believes will enhance his training and career opportunities.

He said: “Last year, it was such a hard decision (to defer his place).

“They will not fund education courses unless you’re on a three-year course.

“I did panto in Newport, which is where my university was, and I got paid quite well for that.

“I think I’m going to have to resort to a career development loan from the bank.

“I’m hoping to go there with about £7,000.”

Dame Helen began her career at the National Youth Theatre, a charity which offers free training for 14 to 25-year-olds.

She said: “The National Youth Theatre, at this moment in time, is incredibly important because the way my business is going, it’s the prerogative only of kids who have got money.

“Only kids who have got wealthy parents can go into the acting profession.

“It’s very difficult for working class kids to get into the theatre, so the National Youth Theatre is incredibly important.

“It was my way in because we didn’t have money to send me to drama school.”