The 22-year-old actor-writer Joe Cole came up through the National Youth Theatre (NYT) — “I did it for a bit of fun,” says the London native. “School hadn’t worked out for me; I didn’t have great expectations.”

But he got the bug, partly due to work he did on a social inclusion project called Playing Up, which involved an NYT team working with young people in London who were not in education or employment. Bit parts followed, playing “the usual” — “rapists and gunmen” on The Bill and Holby City — then roles on stage at the Bush Theatre’s sell-out School Season. Following a TV pilot called Stanley Park which did not get picked up, Cole started to look to his own resources for inspiration. Having written three episodes of a comedy drama set in the Isle of Man, he is now working with writing partner Matt Lucas (of Little Britain) to finish the series. He is still busy on the acting front, with a role in five-part ITV drama Injustice which aired in mid-June. He has written a play and a short film and knows what inspires him: the social work he did with the NYT. “That’s the kind of thing I want to be involved with,” he says.

Contact: Conor McCaughan, Sam Fox -