How Fakenham College student Will McGregor went on to direct Poldark and Pepsi Superbowl advert

Ex-Fakenham student Will McGregor back at Fakenham College. Picture: Ian Burt

Ex-Fakenham student Will McGregor back at Fakenham College. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The wild cliffs of Cornwall seem a million miles from the leafy grounds of his alma mater.

Will McGregor with cast

Will McGregor with cast - Credit: Archant

His biggest credits so far come at the climax of the first season of costume drama Poldark, a brooding gallop through 18th Century turmoil with an acclaimed final episode.

His previous work includes Pepsi's 2014 Super Bowl advert, while he is currently working on his first feature film - a gothic fairy story set in the Welsh mountains.

Today Mr McGregor, 27, who grew up in East Rudham, visited staff and students at the college and its neighbouring academy.

'It's a massive wave of nostalgia,' he said. 'I saw my old geography teacher, Mr Bye. Going to school in the countryside, surrounded by landscape and nature, was something I didn't appreciate at the time, but looking back on it you do.'

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of Aidan Turner as Ross

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark. Critics breathed a sigh of relief after Poldark's second series kicked off in fine form, with a cliffhanger - and a topless Turner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday September 5, 2016. See PA story SHOWBIZ Poldark . Photo credit should read: Robert Viglasky/BBC/PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption. - Credit: PA


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Mr McGregor gave presentations to the current crop of film studies students on both campuses.

'I never considered when I was at school that directing TV or films was even a possibility,' he said. 'So it's just to say that if you want to do it, you can do it.'

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A college trip to New York and a teacher who gave him a flyer for a student film competition helped inspire him to go on to study at the University for the Creative Arts in Surrey. Despite a steeply upward career trajectory, he said he was surprised at the success of Poldark - the original of which was on our screens decades before he was born.

'You hope it's going to do well, but you never know,' he said. 'It's great to see it do well.'

Lianne Higgins, head of college, said visits from alumni were inspiring and informative.

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