Despite beating 700 other boys to the plum role of Oliver in this Christmas' big BBC drama, newcomer William Miller isn't convinced about a career in acting. It seems the 11-year-old from Hackney would be prepared to swap showbiz for the football pitch. "It's a toss-up between being an actor and a footballer," the youngster revealed in an interview with The Radio Times.

William is already a prolific striker for Leyton Orient's under-12s team and has been scouted by Tottenham Hotspur. "Filming is really time-consuming and I'm lucky we made Oliver Twist during the summer, outside the football season," he explains. Having been scouted by Spurs is "a great opportunity for me," he says, while recognising the impossibility of combining the two things. "If you can't make practice, you lose your place in the team."

In the new Charles Dickens adaptation - his first major role - William appears alongside a host of illustrious thespians including Timothy Spall as Fagin, Tom Hardy as Bill Sykes and Sophie Okonedo as Nancy. Unsurprisingly he has showbiz genes in his blood – his mother Janine Wood is an actress while dad Sam Miller has directed several TV dramas including Krakatoa, which William appeared in when he was nine.

His "hugely proud" parents aren't pushing him to go down the acting route, however. "Whatever William does, he wants to commit himself fully," says his mum. "We will support him and either way he will take his GCSEs… He played the part of Oliver brilliantly and being a young lad from Hackney, he brought a little East London authenticity to the role, which really shines through."

The five-part series will air on BBC1 from December 18.

Photo: ©
The 11-year-old is not only the lead in a new adaptation of Oliver Twist, he's also been scouted by SpursPhoto: © BBCClick on photo to enlarge