Bristol Old Vic Theatre School Charity Member

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School opened its doors in 1946, founded by Sir Laurence Olivier. BOVTS has grown to be a world renowned centre of excellence.

Member Bio

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School opened its doors in 1946, founded by Sir Laurence Olivier.

Since its inception, BOVTS has grown to be a world renowned centre of excellence.

Our courses are internationally recognised as a benchmark of quality in professional acting, technical, production and management training producing alumni such as Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Daniel Day Lewis, Olivia Colman CBE, Naomi Harris OBE, Jeremy Irons and Pete Postlethwaite.


  • BA Professional Acting
  • BA and FdA Costume for Theatre, Film and TV
  • BA and FdA Production Arts


  • MFA Professional Acting
  • MA Screen Acting
  • MFA Voice Studies
  • MA Performance Design
  • MA Drama Directing
  • MA Drama Writing

Adult Short Courses

  • Devising Theatre
  • Accents
  • Sunday Limber
  • Directing
  • Playwriting
  • Performance Design
  • Acting for Stage
  • Acting for Camera
  • Acting Summer Foundation Course: 10 Weeks

Youth Short Courses

  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Scriptwriting
  • Improvisation
  • Devising
  • Costume Design
  • Set Design
  • Filmmaking

BOVTS WorldStage

  • Executive Presentation Training
  • Presenting with Impact
  • Female Leadership
  • Communication with Influence
  • Corporate Storytelling
  • Allyship in the workplace

Key People

Fiona Francombe - Principal & CEO

Fiona trained in technical theatre at Rose Bruford College, before embarking on a career in stage management, working at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She moved into the TV industry in 1990 in London, joining the BBC’s Drama department as a runner. Following her move to Bristol in 1993, she worked both for the BBC and as a freelancer for a variety of television dramas as a location manager and producer, before going on to manage production liaison for South West Screen and Creative England. In response to the BBC’s 2009 decision to relocate production of dramas such as Casualty to Cardiff, Fiona successfully lobbied Bristol City Council for support in retaining production industries in the city. In 2010 she went on to establish The Bottle Yard Studios in previously disused warehouses on a seven-acre site situated on the southern outskirts of Bristol. The Council-owned studios are now established as one of the leading production facilities in the country, contributing greatly to the millions generated by the media sector for the local economy each year. Fiona moved to BOVTS as Principal and CEO in August 2020. Fiona sits on the Royal Television Society West committee, the BBC/Bristol City Partnership Steering Group, the One City Economy Board, is a Trustee of the Cathedral Schools Trust and a member of the Society of Merchant Venturers. In recognition of her ‘exceptional contribution to film and TV’, she was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Arts in 2019 by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). In 2017 she received the Women of the Year Award from the Bath Chronicle & Bristol Post for outstanding leadership.

Ali de Souza - Director of Drama

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is delighted to announce that Ali de Souza has been appointed as the new Director of Drama and will be joining the School’s Executive Leadership Team in February 2023. With strategic oversight of the School’s artistic programme, the Director of Drama will have responsibility for overseeing the realisation of BOVTS theatrical and media productions, appointing visiting practitioners, and enhancing the School’s reputation as a world-leading training provider. Ali is currently Associate Head of Acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he has taught Shakespeare, screen acting and professional practice for actors since 2009. A particular focus for Ali has been developing inclusive curricula and advocating for safe practices in areas such as intimacy choreography, understanding boundaries, and the embedding of mental wellbeing into creative practice. He was previously Programme Leader for the BA Acting and Performance course at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. Ali completed an MA in Psychology at the University of Dundee, before taking a one-year postgraduate diploma in acting at BOVTS, graduating in 1993 in The Front Page at Bristol Old Vic’s Studio theatre. He later completed an MFA in Screen Directing (Queen Margaret University, 2001) and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in the Arts (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 2014). On returning to his alma mater, Ali commented, “After graduating from BOVTS I worked as a professional actor for seven years. Learning from inspirational teachers like Rudi Shelly, Rita McKerrow and Nat Brenner felt like a truly transformative experience. I graduated with a wealth of skills, beautiful life-long friends and re-entered the industry with a rejuvenated confidence. “I am delighted to be working with the executive leadership team, the Board of Trustees, dedicated staff team and talented students for the next chapter of the School’s long and illustrious story. Performers and creatives have always held a mirror to society, and it’s imperative that we continue to reflect on our purpose, celebrate our diversity and work together to ensure a sound future for the arts industry and drama school training.” Fiona Francombe, CEO at BOVTS, says: “I am thrilled that BOVTS has been able to appoint Ali to the new role of Director of Drama. His appointment comes at a time of significant challenge for higher education providers and drama schools, and Ali will be pivotal in shaping and delivering the Theatre School’s future strategy. “Ali is a well-respected and much-loved colleague at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has led on evolving RCS’s training practices and advocating for fully inclusive curricula. The BOVTS community looks forward to welcoming him in the new year as we continue to consolidate our reputation as an exemplar in modern international drama training.”

Stuart Harvey - Director of Studies

Stuart trained as a Director at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduating in 2007, since then he has worked extensively in theatre and education. Before joining the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School as Director of Studies, Stuart was Head of Curriculum and Quality at the Wilkes Academy, helping them write a new Musical Theatre degree. Stuart was employed as Senior Youth Theatre Leader for Chichester Festival Theatre, setting the foundations for five new youth theatre groups in the West Sussex area. He also led numerous workshops for other drama teachers and practitioners in the area. Stuart was a founding director for MT4uth, Northern Ireland’s first and foremost national musical theatre training company for young people. He was also a creative director for YMT, the largest provider of musical theatre in the UK, writing and directing many different projects for the company. In his time with YMT he founded the New Writing Award, celebrating emerging musical theatre creatives.