By Brett Gibbons

PALMA
PREPARATIONS are well underway for this weekend's opening of award-winning actress Pauline Quirke's drama and performing arts academy in Majorca.
The former Birds Of A Feather star officially launches the latest Pauline Quirke Academy (PQA) at Agora School in Costa D'en Blanes, near Marineland, on Saturday at 10am. There are already 16 similar schools across the UK.

Initial discussions for the Majorca venture began last September. Rachael Wilkins, a former performer with Magalluf's Pirates Adventure show, is the principal.

Pauline said: “It's great to have the opportunity to launch the academy in Majorca. I had a holiday home here for many years and have had some great times on the island. “After 40 years in showbusiness I hope I've got a few pearls of wisdom I can pass on to the kids, so I'm really looking forward to the venture.” The academy's weekend classes are aimed at children aged from six years to 17 and give the opportunity to get involved with all areas of performing arts including drama, comedy, musical theatre, film and television.

Academy principal Rachael said the response from Majorca youngsters had been tremendous and she revealed they may have to organise extra afternoon sessions to cater for demand. However, she said she still hoped many people would turn up to the open day at Agora School on Saturday between 10 and 1pm.

She said: “We've had a fantastic response since launching the academy and local children and their parents have really embraced our ideas of ‘fun not fame.' “We're not about exams, end of term productions or running a showbiz agency, we simply want children to have fun, gain confidence and explore their imaginations.” Helping Rachael at the academy are a trio of showbiz experts who are keen to pass on their knowledge, talent and skills to the academy's youngsters. Laura Brunton, a teacher at King Richard School, will be advising on musical theatre. Lucy Talei de Bruce, will be the expert on drama and Belinda Peach will be passing on knowledge of television and film production.

A host of Pauline's showbiz pals are set to visit the academy for one-off masterclasses during the summer.
Shane Richie, soon to star in a TV remake of Minder, singer Suzanne Shaw, children's TV presenters JK and Joel, and Claire Sweeney have all pencilled in dates to visit the academy.

Actress Pauline, who has just finished filming a drama series entitled Missing for the BBC will be at this weekend's open day. She began her career as a child actress and her first appearance on TV was in the legendary police drama Dixon of Dock Green.

As a teenager she hosted two children's series, You Must Be Joking and Pauline's Quirks before getting a small role in the film The Elephant Man in 1980.

However, it was her portrayal as Sharon in Birds of a Feather that made her a household name. The sitcom ran on the BBC from 1988 until 1998.
She also received critical acclaim for the television adaptation of Minette Walters' s The Sculptress in 1996. Since then she's made guest appearances in ITV's police drama The Bill and reality TV cooking show Celebrity Masterchef.

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