Soap actor joins all-star cast for city charity theatre date

Mark Branagan

ACTOR David Neilson, who plays Roy Cropper in TV’s Coronation Street, is to join an all-star cast at York Theatre Royal for a charity performance of King Lear.

Mr Neilson, who has been on the stage and TV since 1970, agreed to take part after a phone call from cast member George Costigan, who asked him which role he wanted to play.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Neilson said: “We cast ourselves really. It is a real meaty play and I am looking forward to it. It will be good for me and good to work with other people.”

He has chosen to play Kent, Lear’s loyal supporter who follows him on his journey and also appears in disguise as another character.

Although Mr Neilson admits to the role being “well out of my comfort zone” the Midlands-born actor appeared in a number of Shakespeare plays before bit parts in Survivors and Z-Cars led him to Coronation Street.

He said it was a twist of fate while working for Sir Alan Ayckbourn in Scarborough that finally landed him the role as the eccentric but fearless cafe owner Roy Cropper.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Neilson had been appearing in the comedy Touchwood and Whistle at the old Stephen Joseph Theatre at Westwood in 1986 when he got his big break.

It happened because the late Stephen Mallatratt was writing for the team while also working on scripts for Coronation Street. When the character of Ray Cropper was first discussed Mr Mallatratt suggested Mr Neilson, who has an interest in eccentrics, would be perfect for the role.

He is now such a familiar face he is instantly recognised in the street, unlike his screen partner Hayley (Julie Hesmondhalgh) who is a blonde in real life.

On Sunday at 6pm he joins the rest of the cast for the live recording the play, performed as a reading on the main stage.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Others taking part include Freddie Jones as Lear, George Costigan, Nial Costigan, Nicholas Le Prevost, Toby Jones, Niamh Cusack, Rachel Pickup, Sally Bretton, Alex Giannini, Paterson Joseph, Lex Shrapnel and Geoffrey Beevers.

All actors are giving up their time for free to help York Theatre Royal’s efforts to raise 50,000 for the move into the De Grey rooms this year. The space will be also available for the whole community for workshops, readings, meetings and performances.