BROADCHURCH star Jonathan Bailey has paid tribute to his former English teacher for inspiring his acting career.

The 25-year-old former Oxford schoolboy, who played newspaper reporter Olly Stevens in the smash-hit crime thriller, also said reading his own local newspapers – the Oxford Mail and The Wallingford Herald – helped him prepare for the role.

Mr Bailey, from Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, near Wallingford, fondly remembers reading Shakespeare in the sixth form at Oxford’s Magdalen College School with Dr David Brunton, who died in March 2007 after falling from the tower of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin Church in High Street.

Mr Bailey, who is now playing Cassio in the National Theatre production of Othello, told the Mail: “He was a brilliant man who taught us Othello for A-Level.

“I’d read it out loud in class with him playing Iago, so it is a fitting tribute to a fantastic teacher that I’m now playing Cassio.”

In Broadchurch, the former Benson Primary School pupil worked opposite top actors including David Tennant and Pauline Quirke.

His character, a junior reporter for the fictional Broadchurch Echo, finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation.

Mr Bailey said: “The Oxford Mail and The Wallingford Herald were of course my inspiration.

“Growing up in Benson I always read The Wallingford Herald – it was always on the kitchen table.

“The sense of community that is thrust into the home by local papers is so important.”

The ITV series drew in more than nine million viewers every week and had viewers on the edges of their seats until the murderer was revealed in the final episode, broadcast on April 22.

Filming for a second series is due to start next year.

Mr Bailey, who has also appeared in the popular Oxford detective drama Lewis, said: “In terms of Broadchurch’s success, I am totally shocked.

“It is great to be a part of something everyone wants to carry on watching.”

Mr Bailey’s father Stuart Bailey, former managing director of Rowse Honey in Wallingford, said: “We believe that it is important to follow your dream and are naturally very proud of Jonathan and what he has achieved.

“We were totally hooked on Broadchurch and looked forward to watching it every Monday evening.”

He added: “It is great that Jonathan was part of such a popular TV series and that Othello is proving so successful at the National.”

Alan Cooper, who has taught at Oxford’s Magdalen College School for 32 years, said: “Dr Brunton had a brilliant way of making Shakespeare come alive.

“He would be absolutely delighted. He was always very fond of Shakespeare.

“He would be thrilled that someone would be able to take that to the theatre.”

Of Mr Bailey, Mr Cooper added: “He is quietly successful. He clearly works hard and is very deserving of success.”

Dr Brunton, 39, who lived in Hinton Waldrist, near Wantage, suffered from a bi-polar depressive condition.

A January 2008 inquest into his death recorded an open verdict.