Ian Bannen was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire in 1928 and came to Ratcliffe in 1941, aged 13. His schoolmates described him as ‘a fun-loving, humorous person and, even then, the actor’, although it was noted that his colourful personality was ‘not easily contained’! A lover of films as a boy, he would often sneak out of lessons to watch Jean Gabin movies, and acted in many school plays.
Bannen’s film debut in 1951 was only a minor role in the Ealing Studios drama Pool of London, but he rose to prominence through a wide range of screen roles during the late 1950s and 60s. His breakthrough performance came in the 1965 blockbuster The Flight of the Phoenix, for which he earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. Other notable movie roles included appearances in The Offence (1972), Defence of the Realm (1986), Hope and Glory (1987), and Braveheart (1995), which earned him numerous award nominations. Latterly, he won great acclaim starring as the loveable rogue Jackie O’Shea in the 1998 comedy film Waking Ned, which proved to be a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
Every year, Ratcliffe College awards the Ian Bannen Memorial Prize for Acting to its most promising drama student.