Coronation Street star Colson Smith on his passion for acting and Castleford Cricket Club

AT the age of 22 Colson Smith has already spent almost a decade appearing in TV soap Coronation  Street.

Colson Smith at Castleford Cricket Club where he has been involved since he was a schoolboy. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).

During that time playing popular character Craig Tinker, he has transformed from chubby schoolboy to super-fit special constable.

He admits that just the second acting role he won has provided the best job he is ever likely to have.

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Away from the set of Britain’s longest-running soap, Colson is focused on another role – director of cricket at Castleford Cricket Club near the family home where he grew up.

The Coronation Street actor at the club where he is now a director. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).

This is no honorary title bestowed on a TV celebrity. He spends around 15 hours a week in his unpaid job, which he admits is much more than a hobby.

The week that we speak he has spent several days arranging flights, Covid tests and making quarantine arrangements for Pakistani cricketer Umair Khan to join the club as its overseas player this season.

Then graffiti had to be jet washed off the side of the pavilion and the pitch dubbed ‘The Golden Acre’, needed rolling as well as securing sponsorship agreements and finalising details for a friendly fixture ahead of the new season.

A couple of seasons ago he arranged for a Take That tribute band to play on the pitch and a big breakthrough came when draught beer was installed in the pavilion for the first time.

Colson admits that when he first turned up at Savile Park aged nine he dreamed of being a professional cricketer, not an actor.

“It didn’t take long to realise I wasn’t going to be a professional cricketer – I was probably one of the worst junior players ever to have played at Cas!

“When I was 11 I started going to home and away games and if they lost I’d get kicked out of the dressing room and I’d try to sneak my way back in – for me it was like being around superstars.

“And as director of cricket now, I have re-signed the captain that kicked me out of that dressing room all those years ago. I just want to make these people proud. I want to do it for them.”

He is good company, a relaxed conversationalist with no hint of ego and little interest in the celebrity trappings that come with starring in one of Britain’s most popular TV programmes.

He says his family, cricket and Coronation Street all help to keep his feet on the ground.

“Everyone there is so well drilled, so respectful, you model yourself on people and Bill Roache [who plays Ken Barlow] has been on that show for 60 years, he is the most professional, kindest person you will ever meet – he has the balance and you just pick it up off other people.

“I was really lucky with my upbringing, my sister is incredibly intelligent and both my parents are in medical professions, so that balance of how Hannah has always been the successful one because she’s a vet, and I was just the kid that was a little bit different who had this hobby that turned into a job.

“Then there’s the core people that I always keep around me. If I ever did anything too diva-ish then they’d tell me.

“I’ve always kept two lives. My priority in Manchester is to work hard and my priority in Yorkshire is to be Colson and I always try to keep that split as much as possible.

“Being in the public eye is really difficult and I try my best to get on with it but at times I’m only human. I’m quite lucky I’ve got people around me that help me with that.

“Actors are different from celebrities, actors want to act, celebrities want to be famous.

“There is a difference. I have a real love-hate relationship with influencers, whereas actors – their sole job is to act and entertain, being famous is the bad baggage that comes with that.

“Don’t get me wrong, it leads to some wonderful opportunities and you get to do some amazing things – there are times that I’ve had pinch myself moments with the opportunities that I’ve been given and I’m aware that is all because of my job,” he reflects.

Colson admits that he got into acting purely by chance. “When I went to high school I was the only kid that got picked up by their childminder.

“I told my parents, ‘I’m fat, I’m ginger and I’m already being bullied, the childminder is not going to help this situation out’.

“So I started hanging out in the drama department after school and the teacher gave me a leaflet to go to this drama class at Northern Film and Drama.

“A week later I told my mum I’d got an agent and a week after that I got an audition in Leeds and a week later I got a part in a film in Wales!”

Not long after he got his big break. “For my Coronation Street audition I was picked up from school by my mum and my sister – she wasn’t missing out on a trip to Corrie – and I got in the car and my mum is like, ‘Colson, what have you done?’ I’d spilt beans down my shirt at lunchtime.

“I walked into this room where there was a wide variety of kids that looked completely different. There were kids wearing blazers with their parents combing their hair – there were parents who knew everyone in the building – and I had beans down my shirt.

“The kid in before me was in for 10 minutes and when I came out my mum said, ‘You were in there for 50 minutes.’”

The casting director obviously saw something he liked. “I was only meant to do Corrie for two episodes and my agent thanked Corrie and they said ‘Hang fire, we want to write him in’ and I just had such fond memories of doing those two episodes that I said I want to do it and then nine years later I’ve not looked back.”

Colson certainly has a long career ahead of him. “The bit I do know is that, as an actor I am fascinated by learning and improving myself and I was never academic at school, I wasn’t a massive reader of books but as soon as I turned 18 I decided that learning was really a good thing and travel too.”

So he headed off to spend a summer in New York and Los Angeles on an intensive course at The Actors Studio where generations of performers, including Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe and Al Pacino, studied method acting.

“When I came back from there I basically knew that I wanted to live in LA. The thing about Coronation Street is it’s so much fun, it’s family, it’s the greatest job in the world and I can tell you now that it will be the greatest job I ever have.

"I know hands down that nothing will ever beat that and being there since being 11 years old and growing up with it – it’s the best university you could ever go to and I think it will probably be the best place to spend my 20s or possibly the best place to spend the rest of my life.

“I might not get to LA until I’m 85 but there’s definitely aspirations.”

There is a cricket club in Beverly Hills. But it sounds like there is still a big job to do at Cas before that.