Theatre News

Starter for Ten musical announces full cast, including Mel Giedroyc

University Challenge hits the stage!

starter for ten 1
Robert Portal, Mel Giedroyc, Adam Bregman and Gemma Knight-Jones – headshots supplied and distributed by the production

Complete casting has now been set for the musical adaptation of Starter for Ten. 

Set in 1985, the coming-of-age story centres on Brian, who is starting his first year at Bristol University with the aim to fulfil his lifelong dream of competing on BBC quiz show University Challenge.

It is based on the novel by bestselling author David Nicholls and the 2006 film adaptation of the same name, which starred James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Corden and Rebecca Hall.

The show has a book and lyrics co-written by Emma Hall and Charlie Parham, with an 80s-inspired score composed by queer, pop-punk composers Tom Rasmussen and Hatty Carman.

Set to lead the show as Brian is Adam Bregman, who is currently training at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has previous credits including Tolkein and Huntingdon Theatre’s stage production of Sing Street. Joining Bregman will be Eubha Akilade (Find Me In Paris, The Diplomat), who takes the role of Rebecca, Brian’s closest friend on campus.

Mel Giedroyc (The Crown Jewels, Company) will play Brian’s mum Irene, saying today: “David Nicholls’ coming-of-age story is a classic that everybody can identify with; I was taken right back to being a gawky suburban teen finding my feet at uni in the 80s.

“The sights and smells of student life – Impulse body spray, backcombed Robert Smith hairdos, questionable food from a one-ring hob, cheap cigarettes, dance floors sticky with snakebite and black! Starter for Ten is especially meaningful to me and I’m ecstatic to be a part of bringing this brand-new musical version – full of heart, comedy and Strongbow – to a brand-new audience.”

Robert Portal (Belgravia) will play legendary quizmaster Bamber Gascoigne, while Gemma Knight-Jones (Come From Away) will play Professor Bowman, Luke Johnson (The Light Princess) will play Des and Natasha O’Brien (Aspects of Love) will play Mrs Harbinson. Completing the cast are Finlay Blackman, William Hall and Rockingham Ooi-Griffiths, sharing the role of Young Brian.

As already confirmed, Stephenson Ardern-Sodje (Rock Follies) plays Brian’s childhood best friend Spencer, Miracle Chance (Heathers) will play Brian’s team member Lucy, am-dram celebrity Alice will be played by Emily Lane (Frozen), and Will Jennings (Les Misérables) will play team captain Patrick.

Running from 29 February to 30 March 2024, Starter for Ten will be directed by Parham, choreographed by Shelley Maxwell, with set and costume design by Frankie Bradshaw, sound design by Gregory Clarke, musical supervision by Nick Barstow and casting by Will Burton for GBC.

Hall and Parham’s company, Antic Productions, will co-produce alongside Bristol Old Vic, Longshot Films – which co-produced the 2006 film adapatation – and Playtone.