A BUDDING actor has beaten more than 3,000 hopefuls to secure a place in a world famous acting school.

St Mary’s College student James McClelland, 19, has accepted a place on a year long acting course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, or RADA.

The former Stonyhurst College pupil from Higher Wheelton, Chorley, follows in the footsteps of notable alumni including Richard Attenborough, Ralph Fiennes and Roger Moore.

James is well on his way to becoming a hit after he gained critical acclaim as the male lead in St Mary’s Youth Theatre’s play Force Quit that was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe festival last summer.

A leading critic said: “The stand out performance is that of James McClelland as devoted boyfriend Andy. His sensitive performance fluctuates between boyish shyness and distress.”

James said has been inspired by leading actors such as Mark Ruffalo who played Hulk in Avengers Assemble and Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

James, who has been acting from the age of 13 and hopes to work in theatre, TV and film, said: “It didn’t sink in until last week that I was going to go to RADA.

“I was completely overwhelmed. It was unbelievable. I’m chuffed “It is the ultimate gratification to be noticed by RADA from a young age. Coming away with a RADA offer is everything I hoped.”

Aged 14, James missed out on the part of Eustace Scrubb in the Hollywood remake in Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

James said: “In my summer holidays I came and saw the college production at St Mary’s. I was blown away by the professionalism of the performance. This was the turning point for me and I decided I wanted to study drama at St Mary’s College.

“The opportunities of the Youth Theatre and Fringe and being able to work with such diverse styles at St Mary’s has helped me all the way. I am now incredibly excited about the challenge ahead.”

Elissa Best, head of marketing at the Blackburn college, said: “We are delighted for James. He is an exceptionally talented student and he may well be a star of the future.”