Emily, Norris and Rita in CorrieToday is the last day of our Coronation Street DVD give-a-way. We’ve got two copies of Romanian Holiday to win and all you have to do is email us your name and address. Should you not be one of the lucky winners picked at random by ATV Network, then the brand-new exclusive to DVD Corrie special can be bought in all good retailers.

To help you find out more about Romanian Holiday ATV bring you the first of three interviews with the leading stars of the special. First up is David Neilson who plays Roy Cropper in the long running television favourite.

What appealed to you most about Romanian Holiday?

“The script made me smile all the way through…if you don’t have a decent script then you’ve had it from the beginning!  But Simon (Crowther) and Christopher (Fewtrell) are good writers – when I see their names on the script when I’m doing Coronation Street, I’m happy. It’s got all the makings of a good caper: I think there’s something in it for everyone, particularly as there are different strands of humour throughout. To do a one-off like this with a beginning, middle and end is also exciting because you’ve got a piece that is finished, whereas with Coronation Street it goes on and on and on and you’re just doing a bit of it: eventually the story ends for everyone in The Street but the show carries on.  It’s like Old Man River and the thing keeps flowing!  With this, there was a read-through, getting it all together and then knowing that we’d be making something which would be finished at a particular point to be presented to the public.”

Did you enjoy filming in Romania?

“I love Romania. I’ve been before and I think it’s a wonderful country. The first time was to see the eclipse of the sun ten years ago and this time was to work: Romania always seems to be a by-product of whatever I’m doing but I’ve discovered what a wonderful place it is. It’s peculiar – it’s got an incredible history and it’s very beautiful but it’s also very chaotic: it’s got a danger to it. There’s great poverty, of course, and it’s got a long way to go but I think it’s exciting and vibrant. The locations were really well chosen so we did get to see an awful lot of Romania [through those].

I love filming on location because we get so little chance to do it. We turn up every day in Manchester and we have certain routines we go through and most of the stuff is recorded on the lot where we are based: if we’re on location, it’s just a day shoot somewhere. To be away with people is great. I can just remember Julie laughing all the time! There was nothing else to interfere with our time there: there was no domestic stuff. We were just there to work and at the end of the day wind down and eat and drink together. Julie and I get on really well but still give each other our space. It’s like an arranged marriage in a way!

The villa was extraordinary. What amazes me – and I’ve been in the business a long time – is the way TV can make things look like they should be there. At the wrap party [held in the villa], we’d just finished the last shot and suddenly they were taking all these bits of garden away. The garden looked absolutely as it should but it was full of props. And the entrance to the villa on screen is about 150 miles away from the actual villa! We filmed the arrival – getting out of the cab and walking up the drive – in Transylvania, then cut to a week later and 150 miles south we open the villa door. That always amazes me and I’m in it! I can’t really work it out but it all matches up brilliantly.”

How does Roy cope with the holiday?

“Roy doesn’t like spending money or breaking his routine but then he’s very interested in the history and the walking in the mountains Romania offers. So he is fascinated: he would have read up about everything. As long as the plan goes to plan and nothing unexpected happens, he’ll be alright. But, of course, with it being Coronation Street, something unexpected does happen. And so that destabilises him a bit. He has a moment of experimentation though, so strange things happen in Romania! It almost has a dream-like quality, because when he goes back to The Street he’ll be buttoned up again.

I was recently watching some footage they’d put up on the Coronation Street website of Roy when he was first in the show and [I realised] he’s very different to the way he is now. He was very up in the air and ‘pleased to meet you’ and very smiley in the beginning. And his northern accent was a lot stronger! So he has changed, but not consciously. I’ve not consciously thought about him changing but you take on experiences, like his marriage and all the problems that came with that. The thing with Roy is that he’s always got a dark cloud over his head, just about to dump on him! The first time Roy went abroad was to see Hayley; even him getting the passport was a big deal. Then going out with a woman and finding out he wasn’t going out with a woman…these are all big things he had to take on board and they’re ageing!!

So each time Roy gathers more experience he gets a bit more worldly wise and ground down. It keeps it interesting as an actor. You think ‘hang on – I’ve got to do some work now!’

Did Roy’s shopping bag travel to Romania with you?

“I carried it with me on the plane, mainly because I was using it last thing before we flew out. It then travelled back with me because I had to use it when I got back…there are some doubles but I use my mother’s original shopping bag. Wardrobe have bought a few and I had been using the new versions but they’re no good.

They disintegrate.So I’ve actually gone back to the original bag. That bag went round Loughborough market for many years! My mother died just before I joined the show so I was chucking stuff out and I thought ‘oh well I’ll have that’ because Roy was always going to the shops for Deirdre. And I’m still using her bag. It will be about 30 years old now. I’m not sentimental about it but it is a good bag: I know the feel of it when I pick it up.

 Wardrobe did take a copy out to Romania though – they are, quite rightly, pretty neurotic about losing it!”

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