Teacher Barry tests his memory on ITV’s Tonight at the London Palladium thanks to an ex-pupil

By Barbara Metcalfe at

Barry Peden, a teacher from Sale, took to the stage at the world famous London Palladium after a surprise call from a former pupil. Barry, who  teaches English at St. Bede’s College in Manchester, got the call from a former pupil Cat Bowden who is now working with ITV. She thought of him when the producers of Tonight at the London Palladium were looking for non-celebrities who could hold their own on a stage.

“I was head of 5th year(year 11) for a while and I think she thought I was quite chatty and funny. Being Head of 5th Year was really Head of Shouting and I think she remembered that we had a good laugh,” said 54-year-old Barry.

“She asked me if I would be interviewed by some people travelling around the country and I said yes.  So they interviewed me for about half an hour in the school and filmed it and on the strength of that they invited me on.”

Ex-pupil asked him go on the programme

Ex-pupil asked him go on the programme

“The original premise was that they got some kids to go with their parents to the Palladium and Bradley Walsh would say something like ‘shouldn’t you be at home revising, what would your teacher think?’ and then I would be in the audience as a surprise. It developed and developed and it became a much bigger item and by then I didn’t know what was happening.”

He found himself mysteriously holed up in a hotel for a day next to the Theatre and when he emerged for the recording he saw former pupils and colleagues from the last 30 years milling around. It wasn’t until he was facing some of them from the stage with host Bradley Walsh that he knew what he had to do.

“Bradley was very good.  I can’t remember all of  what happened now but do remember having a laugh. I hope the audience found it funny too.”

Barry, who has a daughter Caitlin, 21 and son Joe, 18, had to guess whether the former colleagues and pupils were higher or lower in age than those next to them. He managed to get them all right and won two tickets for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on May 28th.