August 31, 2008

Street Star Recalls Being Cast As a Potteries Man

The Sentinel's nostalgia pages have reached Corrie's cobbles. Here, David Neilson, who plays Roy Cropper in the soap, tells Colette Warbrook how a photograph of himself in All Our Yesterdays brought the memories flooding back

D AVID Neilson is famous thanks to his role as kind-hearted Roy Cropper in Coronation Street. But 28 years ago, he played a character in the sitcom Young At Heart, which starred the late Sir John Mills.

The show, set in the Potteries, ran for 18 episodes on ITV, between 1980 and 1982.

Sir John was cast as Albert Collyer , a pottery worker approaching retirement, while Megs Jenkins played Ethel Collyer .

David, meanwhile, was Albert's neighbour and friend, Norman Charlton.

In June this year, a story about Young At Heart was published on the front page of All Our Yesterdays, together with a photograph of Sir John with David in a scene from the show.

Explaining how the article fell into his hands, David says: "My neighbour is a director and his parents live in Stoke-on-Trent, so that is how I came across the story. It was good to see the picture from the show."

David says he enjoyed working with Sir John and also with Megs.

"Young At Heart was my first experience of sitcom," he says, "and my only experience of acting in front of a studio audience.

"It was very charming; a very old-fashioned sitcom."

David appeared in the first two series of the show.

"I think there were three altogether," he says, "but I didn't do the third one, because I did Boys From The Blackstuff instead."

And he remembers how he took his preparation for the role very seriously.

"I was quite into getting things right," says David. "Before I did the job, I rang up a guy at Radio Stoke and he got lots of tapes out with the Staffordshire accent.

"I really got into it, but when I showed up, I was told to drop the accent.

"They didn't want a specific accent, just a general northern one."

Filming took place at Elstree Studios, but the potbank scenes were shot at Hanley's Vulcan Pottery in Clough Street.

"In Stoke we stayed opposite the station at the North Stafford Hotel," he says. "Everybody stayed there, and we were there for a week. Then, for the second series, we did another week there.

"We went out to various restaurants and to a few pubs, and some people went to a Gary Glitter concert.

"The Potteries people were great, and I remember being in the hotel when Stoke City played a team like Manchester United. All the players came into the bar."

A nother memory David has is of Sir John's passion for exercise. "He was amazingly fit," he recalls. "I think he was about 72-years- old at the time, but I remember him doing press-ups in the studio.

"He was a really nice gentleman, and while we were there, we both made a plate, and John signed it to me and my wife, so the plate is now a treasured possession."

David, who lives in Manchester, but also spends time in Barcelona, is married to Jane and has a son, Daniel.

The actor has been playing Roy Cropper for 13 years and the character is married to transsexual Hayley, who has been away doing charity work in Africa.

But soap fans will no doubt be pleased to hear that the couple are to be reunited in the show next month

"That is the big story," adds David.

Do you remember any famous faces performing in North Staffordshire or South Cheshire? Write to Colette Warbrook at Features Desk, The Sentinel, Forge Lane, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 5SS, or email [email protected]

(c) 2008 Sentinel, The (Stoke-on-Trent UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.