James Nesbitt OBE

James Nesbitt OBE grew up working in Barry’s Amusements as a bingo caller, and occasionally as the brakeman for the ‘Big Dipper’.  This widely renowned actor and presenter was born in Ballymena and grew up in Coleraine but spent much of his time in Portrush. His acting career started at the Riverside Theatre and he left his degree in French at Ulster Polytechnic (now Ulster University) to pursue acting. He has starred along names such as Liam Neeson, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom and Martin Freeman; among others[1].

Nesbitt began his break from theatre with Cold Feet, which he suggested film some of its scenes for the third season in Portrush and, in particular, at Barry’s Amusements[2]. He has featured in many films and TV dramas which incorporate Northern Ireland or Irish characters and famously played the dwarf ‘Bofur’ in the iconic Hobbit trilogy. The actor has won many awards and is a keen supporter of Coleraine Football Club, making a large donation to the club in 2003 when it was close to bankruptcy[3]. Also in 2003 he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D Litt) from the University of Ulster for Services to Drama and was appointed Chancellor of Ulster University in 2010. He now has a home in Portrush.

[1] Ian Starrett, “Saluting one of Ulster’s own” in The News Letter, p. 30 (10 July 2003).
[2] “Cold Feet dip into the north-west” in The News Letter (Century Newspapers): p. 12, (26 April 2000).
[3] Henry McDonald,  “Cold Feet star steps in to rescue Coleraine FC” in Guardian Unlimited (Guardian News & Media) (7 December 2003).