Central Junior Television Workshop was started in 1983 at Central Television in Lenton Lane by the programme controller of children's TV, Lewis Rudd. Its aim was to train youngsters, aged from seven to 21, to act. Many appeared on the locally produced Central series Bernard's Watch, Woof! and Press Gang.​

Ian joined the workshop in its second year as a part-time tutor, combining it with his job as an English and drama teacher in Nottingham, but took it over full-time in 1988. From this time, up to his retirement in 2015, he was living in Calverton. He went on to hold the post for the best part of 30 years – that of mentor, surrogate dad and all-round head honcho of the BAFTA award-winning drama group.

The group's biggest success story is still arguably Samantha Morton, who's a two-time Oscar nominee and has worked with Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Woody Allen, Tim Roth and Johnny Depp.

Others include Chris Gascoyne (Coronation Street), Joe Dempsie (Game of Thrones), Aisling Loftus (Mr Selfridge), Toby Kebbell (War Horse, Prince Of Persia, Wrath of Titans), Pui Fan Lee (Teletubbies), Rosamund Hanson (Life's Too Short), and Chanel Cresswell (Trollied) the list is endless it seems.....
  1. Ian Smith.
    Ian Smith.
  1. Samantha Morton
    Samantha Morton
  2. Joe Dempsie
    Joe Dempsie
  3. Aisling Loftus
    Aisling Loftus
  4. Chris Gascoyne
    Chris Gascoyne
  5. Vicky McClure
    Vicky McClure
  6. Jack O'Connell
    Jack O'Connell
What do former Television Workshoppers have to say about Ian Smith and the Workshop

"Without Ian Smith, there would not have been the Workshop, there would not have been a place for young talent to be recognised from the East Midlands. He gave us a place to be who we wanted to be creatively, there was nothing else like that in the Midlands"
Sohm Kapila now starring in the West End production of Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical

"Look at the talent that has come from the Workshop. Ian spotted all of them. What he's created is unique. Workshop will never be the same without Ian, he was what made it stand out to all the other drama schools, workshops, classes. Now it's got a huge reputation within the industry, casting directors travel to Nottingham looking for fresh new talent. We all have Ian to thank for that. It's thanks to Ian that acting is now my job. I wish him a very happy retirement... although I doubt he'll be able to sit still for more than five minutes!"
Vicky McClure – BAFTA award winner, currently filming another series of TV drama Line Of Duty

"When I was 15 I joined the Workshop. I came from a small mining town [Huthwaite, in Sutton In Ashfield] and had no theatre training at all but I joined this theatre group and it gave me the chance to dream, and be something that I never thought I could be. I am eternally grateful for that and always will be. You don't know what's going to happen in life. I'm just lucky that a lot of people, like Ian, have helped me along the way."
Chris Gascoyne – played Peter Barlow in Coronation Street for over 15 years

"I didn't get in first time but apparently all the best ones never do. It was just a place to experiment and lose your inhibitions, I feel if anything since leaving the workshop I've probably acquired a few of my inhibitions back. The kind of actor the workshop produces is considered quite formidable."
Joe Dempsie star of Skins and Game Of Thrones

"I feel incredibly lucky to have been taught, guided, and very occasionally terrified by Ian. He has this way of finding and nurturing talent in young actors that is remarkable. The growing number of Workshoppers breaking out onto the screen and treading the boards is a testament to his exceptional abilities. I feel incredibly grateful to have been part of the Workshop under his brilliant tenure."
Anjli Mohindra - soon to be seen alongside Drew Barrymore in the film Miss You Already

"Ian is one of the greatest people I know. His ability to spot talent in kids and capitalize on it is remarkable. I think he has put the fear of God in every one of us at the Workshop at some point, but you can't argue with the results he has produced. I cannot thank him enough for his unconditional support and encouragement."; he has had a huge influence on my life. I feel truly privileged to have spent my years at the workshop under his watch."
Lauren Carse - Truckers, Banana, Doctors, Casualty