The Telegraph: John Hurt
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John Hurt says he was ‘caned, hugged and kissed’ at prep school

By James Lachno

Oscar-nominated British actor John Hurt has revealed ‘touching’ that was ‘inappropriate’ took place at St Michael’s prepatory school in Otford more than 60 years ago.

British actor John Hurt has spoken out about the “inappropriate” conduct which took place at his prepatory school.

The 72-year-old, who played Control in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, said touching, hugging and kissing were commonplace at St Michael’s in Otford more than 60 years ago:

“You are taken away from your home at 8 years old, and you were looked after by a master or two. They may have been a little bit inept. How can one say it… they were inappropriate. A bit of touching here and there and so on.

“Everyone nowadays would say ‘oh my goodness, throw them to the wolves’. Actually it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t a matter of enjoying or not enjoying, you were just happy to be loved. I was eight. I was hopelessly homesick for the first couple of terms.

He went on: “You’d get caned, then you’d get hugged and then you would get kissed. Not great slobbery French kisses like you see in films, but you would get kissed on the forehead.”

“You felt loved. You would think ‘he likes me’.”

Hurt was speaking to director Alan Parker for a television programme exploring Hurt’s life and career called Living the Dream, which will be broadcast on Sky Arts 1 this Tuesday.

The Derbyshire-born actor had previously worked with Parker on the 1978 film Midnight Express, for which he received an Oscar nomination and won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor.

Over the course of Hurt’s 50 years as a film actor, he has also been nominated for an Oscar for best actor, for 1980’s The Elephant Man, and won four BAFTA awards, including the lifetime achievement award in 2012.

In an interview with The Independent on Sunday in 2005, Hurt made allegations of abuse against Donald Cormack, who had been senior master – now known as headteacher – while the actor was at St Michael’s.

His latest comments come in the wake of a series of high profile child abuse scandals involving public figures such as former BBC presenter Sir Jimmy Saville and former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Cyril Smith.

St Michael’s Preparatory School in Otford, Kent, was founded in 1872. It currently has over 450 pupils. The school was contacted but no representatives were available for comment.

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