Olivia Colman won a Golden Globe this week for her performance in period comedy The Favourite but the British actress won the heart of a leading Perth arts boss nearly three decades earlier.

The Weekend West has obtained a picture of an 18-year-old Colman standing with Perth lad Marcus Canning, now the chief executive of Fringe World, when the pair were teenage sweethearts at Gresham’s School in Britain.

Canning was enjoying a gap year as boarding house master at Gresham’s in 1992, teaching art and drama to junior students.

Colman was a senior and the pair performed together in a number of school drama productions.

Olivia Colman accepting the award for best actress in a comedy film for her role in The Favourite during the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Picture: AP

“Although not necessarily encouraged by the school, if a romance blossomed between a senior and a visiting Australian tutor, a blind eye was appropriately turned,” Canning said.

With scene-stealing roles in hit TV shows such as The Night Manager and Peep Show, Colman has always had a magnetic presence, as Canning can attest.

“I even changed my flights back home in order to spend a white Christmas with her,” Canning revealed.

“It was a very long time ago but Collie still holds a special place in my romantic memories if not memoirs.”

British actress Olivia Colman with Fringe World chief executive Marcus Canning in 1992.

Canning has kept busy in the years since their whirlwind romance, founding the world’s third-largest fringe festival and creating high-profile public artworks in the so-called “Containbow” in Fremantle and the Ascalon sculpture at St George’s Cathedral.

Set to retire after this year’s Fringe, Canning has the Rechabites Hall project with developer Adrian Fini in the works and a second child with wife Desi on the way.

But he will find time to keep tabs on his famous former girlfriend.

“Watching her mature into one of the finest comedic and character screen actors in the world over the decades since has been thrilling,” he admitted.

“I look forward to the day she takes out an Oscar.”

Canning might not have to wait long, considering The Favourite star is favoured to add an Academy Award to this week’s gong.