A CASTING director from Cowdenbeath learned he was one of the UK's most influential people in theatre by reading the paper he grew up with as a teenager.

Stuart Burt's gran worked at Sinclair's newsagents in Kelty and ordered The Stage to be delivered from London for him as a youngster.

Now at the age of 44, he admits he was "speechless" and "squealing with delight" when he learned that his name was among the paper's top 100 list of the most influential people in British theatre and the performing arts.

"I couldn't believe it," he told the Times.

"My gran (Pat) would order a copy from London for me and I would read it every Friday.

"To be listed on the same pages as names like Jodie Comer, Ian McKellen, and in the company of other directors like Ivo van Hove, it is incredible. "I was squealing with delight."

Stuart grew up in Cowdenbeath and with his mum a lover of musicals and Stuart himself taking part in Beath High School's drama club he "caught the bug" at an early age.

He went on to study at the University of Edinburgh, and then to London's Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

After two years spent as an actor, he realised he had "taken a hobby too far".

He then found himself in casting, and learned that the world of casting was "more complex" than he had believed it was when he was a performer.

"It's not just about talent," he said.

"If it's a musical, that company could be together for a year and you need personalities that will contribute to its success.

"If someone is difficult to work with, that isn't going to work.

"In addition, you need diversity and inclusivity. It's so important.

"I want and need to create companies that widely represent the world in which we live in.

"You need to be able to see yourself on stage.

"I feel very fortunate to find myself in this job as I never really knew growing up that this job even existed."

In addition to his recognition as one of the UK's most influential people in the industry, he was previously awarded the 2021 Casting Directors' Guild (CDG) Award for Best Casting in Theatre for Cyrano de Bergerac.

At the 2022 Olivier Awards, all four acting in a musical awards were given to Cabaret - the first time in Olivier history that this has happened - in which he served as casting director for.