Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry had an enormous influence on his protege JAMIE BELL - because he introduced the young actor to intelligent company.

Bell burst onto the film scene aged just 13 in the ballet-dancing flick, and formed a special bond with the OSCAR-nominated movie's bisexual director Daldry - whose "camp friends" reminded him of his own female-dominated family.

Jamie, who is now appearing in Nicholas Nickleby, says, "Stephen moved me into a different world. Suddenly I was with intelligent people all the time. Seeing Stephen's plays opened me up to a world of theatre and art.

"It was a world of high culture, but also of very camp men. It wasn't a problem that it was a partly gay world. I cam from a feminine household run by my gran, mam and my sister."

01/07/2003 14:14