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Murder accusations ordeal for Corrie’s Roy Cropper

Pictures by ITV photographer Danielle Baguely

Soapworld

Murder accusations ordeal for Corrie’s Roy Cropper

Coronation Street’s Roy Cropper cuts a lonely isolated figure as he sits confused and saddened in the eerie darkness of his beloved cafe…

Roy, played by David Neilson, finds himself under suspicion of being involved in the disappearance and possible murder of former employee Lauren Bolton. This week (Fri March 15th) he is taken in for questioning by the police. When news of his arrest hits the internet he finds himself a virtual prisoner in his own home, as social media sleuths and vigilantes become intrigued by the case and the local cafe owner’s alleged involvement.

His decision to attend a vigil for the missing teenager results in Roy being heckled by a baying mob and Roy’s nearest and dearest beg him to keep a low profile. Even in Roys Rolls he is not safe from the accusations, he finds himself locked in the cafe with two thugs demanding to know what he has done with Lauren. This beautifully atmospheric photograph shot by ITV photographer Danielle Baguely perfectly captures Roy’s feelings of despair and confusion whilst he struggles to come to terms with a situation that he doesn’t understand.

Danielle has also shot a stunning portrait of David the actor, out of character relaxing in between scenes.

David has spoken about the major new storyline which is set to play out across the spring and summer, and his thoughts on how Roy will cope with being under suspicion of involvement in Lauren’s disappearance and potential murder.

David Neilson pictured by Danielle Baguely

Roy has a history of taking in troubled teenagers and adolescents looking after people who need help sorting out their lives. How did that start? What is it about Roy that wants to help this sort of waifs and strays?

It definitely started with Hayley and her desire to help people. So it was really more her, it started with Fiz and Becky and then others. Since Hayley died I think as far as Roy’s concerned he feels it’s a sort of moral duty, just something he does. I don’t think he particularly likes putting himself out, it isn’t altruistic as such I just think he’s got this feeling that he has to do it. He’s not religious and doesn’t believe in God, but he is very, very moral and he never writes anyone off.

Lauren was a particularly tricky case. Why did he persist in helping her and why did he want to continue even though she was causing him so many problems?

Firstly she is very young and he would never write someone so young off, he believes you are allowed to make mistakes particularly when you are young. There’s a line in the script where he says that she reminded him of someone who had helped in the past, which of course was Becky. Becky changed her life as a consequence, so it is that he really does his best for people and it makes him feel a little better about himself and he wanted to try and do that for Lauren because it is the right thing to do as one human helping another.

Is any of it to do with the upbringing that he didn’t have a great childhood, and that maybe he sees these people and he wants to help them?

Very possibly. We know a little bit about him through us meeting his mother and obviously has a troubled background. But It is something about who he would have been no matter what his background, he’s got this moral compass. Yeah, he just kind of has to do that. He’s like one of those people who don’t believe in God but believe in hell in some way. You do your best to make the world a little bit better, if you can, they are his rules of engagement with the world.

Roy Cropper false murder accusation and subsequent his harassment storyline

When Lauren does go missing he’s really convinced isn’t he that she’s simply run away to make a fresh start? There’s no thought of anything having gone badly wrong.

For him it is straightforward to start with he said she was gonna go and she’s had enough. He seems to have been one of the last people to see her and as far as he’s concerned, she’s done it. This is what she does, like Becky, she’s a fly by night.

So he’s genuinely not concerned at this stage. And then he makes mistake number one when he decides to clean the flat for Evelyn. And that leads to him being questioned for the first time by DS Slade. Is he at all worried at that point when he’s first brought in for questioning to do with that?

I don’t think so. He wasn’t supposed to clean the flat by himself, he was going to help Evelyn but she decided she would rather be doing something else and typically Roy gets sort of stuck with it. He’s not worried because he’s not guilty, so in his mind there’s nothing to worry about. He is too open really he’s not sussed about how you deal with the police or how things could be misinterpreted.

Is he aware that Bobby is suspicious of him and that’s maybe where this has come from? Is he aware of that at that point? 

No but he knows that Bobby has a sort of crush on Lauren, I think he understands why Bobby has acted in that way. I don’t think he puts any blame on anyone. It’s just that he keeps making crucial errors which I enjoy because I mean, there’s got to be a sort of comic side to something so dark. But when you see somebody doing something they shouldn’t the audience is going to be shouting no at the screen! He is complex, he does these things without giving any thought to it causing him a problem. It is fun to play.

‘They know who he is. They know what you see is what you get with Roy, literally.’

He says an awful lot in the interview. He’s not aware he could be incriminating himself, isn’t he? He just thinks that he’s helping the search. 

His brain is a bit scrambled but he has rules and that is why he wants to help. In a way it makes his life easier because it is black and white but then he will do something that is so bad for him, not on purpose. He is being absolutely honest trying to lay out what happened and obviously the police officer is bemused by him, he’s not they’re not not the normal suspect they interview.

What does he make of Swain

He sees the officer rather than the person and to him she is the law and you answer the law truthfully. He knows that there are good and bad cops but he just sees her as doing her job and he’s doing his job in helping them with their inquiries.

How does he feel when Nina finds the comments about him on her phone? Is he aware of how people could be so cruel? 

Well this is where David and Roy have something in common because, we are early into it, but what seems to be evolving is this kind of invisible mob. That’s the way that wonderful technology can be used by human beings for all sorts of suspect reasons. It’s like graffiti or open day for idiots. Anybody’s allowed on there. Everybody invited, everybody in.

Like Roy I have nothing to do with social media, like a lot of my generation. So in a way it is quite fascinating to see what is happening to him. I’m playing this like it is a sort of insanity that’s going on and I’m playing against something that I don’t understand, let alone Roy. He has only just got a phone and when he finds out about all this craziness on Nina’s phone he simply says he doesn’t want to talk about it.

The men are not after ‘hot delicious snacks’

Is it an alien concept to him that people would be wanting to talk like that about someone they don’t know?

It is, he doesn’t understand it. It’s dangerous, and it is dangerous in the real world. You know, there are kids taking their own lives because of these sort of morons and bullies, awful people and awful stupidity going on. It is very relevant in today’s society. It is the online version of mob mentality. Like the old fashioned lynch mob in the village going around to someone’s house setting it on fire or damaging property, but they are nameless and faceless. It is a fictional story but it does relate to things that are happening in the world today.

When Roy is questioned the second time he is very forthcoming about telling the police this is about Lauren propositioning him. Do you think that his truthfulness could be his downfall?

Obviously this is the issue but his truthfulness is  something I’ve always tried to establish. This is because he cannot cope with grey areas or with subterfuge, his brain wouldn’t be able to cope. So it’s easier if it’s better for him to know what he feels is right and wrong. He can be corrected and will discuss things, but it needs to have values, it’s something about him. I think he’d just go mad otherwise. I always feel he is just hanging in there anyway. He doesn’t do things to make people like him, he is just him. He is his own worst enemy. That’s really what it is.

He has people around him who understand that, is that important for him to cope? 

They know who he is. They know what you see is what you get with Roy, literally. On TV. It works really well. But if you live next to him, you might try to avoid him when he’s putting his milk bottles out.  You know that there’s something really irritating about him and those foibles are what this mob are able to latch on to.

When he comes home from the police station the second time he finds himself alone with Reece’s heavies. How frightened is he at that point when he finds himself in the cafe with these men threatening him?

I think he’s a great student of life in a lot of ways. Here are these people threatening him, an old guy on his own and yes he’s frightened. But he’s like, I don’t know where they are coming from, what is wrong with them, they’re human, he is human, why is this happening? It is almost like an intellectual thing. He would never dream of doing what they are doing so he doesn’t understand what is going on. 

The vigil shrine to missing Lauren

Is he worried that this is an ongoing thing and he is powerless to stop it?

He does feel  like it is the beginning of something. He’s hoping it’s not but it’s sort of a build-up of something. And everything he does or says is being misinterpreted and he doesn’t really have a voice. He’s got the police against him and the mob are against him. He’s trying to work out what to do and he says he’s not going to be a prisoner in his own home. And the way his brain works he would say ‘Well, what can they do to me?’ I don’t think he’s got that sort of physical fear. But it’s upsetting to him that human beings could do this. 

Does he know that at this stage, how much everyone else is worried about him? Are they keeping that from him? And how does he feel when he still wants to go to the vigil and they think it’s not a good idea? 

He’s got to go to the vigil because of how he felt about Lauren. I don’t think he’s aware just how worried people are about him. He worries about Nina and her welfare because of what happened with Seb and he realises she’d be a target too and it just gradually gets through because Evelyn points it out. He resents that, of course, he’s on curfew as well. And then he decides to lock himself upstairs, keep out of the way and not cause any more trouble because he might be causing trouble for other people, I suppose. And that is more important to him. He just wants his life back. 

He goes to the bat roost to fix the mess that the mob have caused and finds himself in hot water again and answering more questions at the station. Is he starting to think that proving his innocence isn’t going to be straightforward and it’s going to be a bit of an uphill battle and he could go down for something he has not done?

I don’t think he is there yet because in black and white he knows he is innocent. He is more concerned about the fact that these people have been to the bat roost and could have destroyed their habitat. He has a connection with these bats. They are valuable to him and their habitat is important to mankind. And then these idiots just come in. I think he sees them as an irritant but he is not realising that the noise they are making is giving the police more evidence against him.

Roy Cropper, pictured by Danielle Baguely

How did you feel when you heard about this storyline?

It’s a compliment but at the same time a responsibility. I do like when Roy is doing bits and pieces in scenes with other people and I get to spend time with my family and see my grandchildren but you never know when things are suddenly going to get busier and I’m prepared for that. When you get a part in a play you know the whole part. Here you don’t know what is going to happen to your character.

I don’t know the whole story, I like to see how things pan out when I get the scripts. What I do like about it is the way it has gone back 29 years to 1995 when Roy first arrived. It is reminiscent of that early Roy Cropper when people were suspicious of his behaviour and thought he was creepy. And all this history will be used against him, things that have happened in the past like abducting their foster child. All that makes this storyline interesting

How do you feel about Roy, do you feel protective of him?

I respect the character a lot, I think he’s made a difference and I put a lot into it. He came in as ‘Creepy Cropper’.. I remember when I first came into the show and I was in York somewhere and there was a couple chatting and one said to the other ‘There’s that weirdo from Coronation Street’ and I thought wow. Then of course over time he sort of evolved and people seem to like him and I love him. I think what people love is his struggle with life and this is part of his struggle.

He’s sort of on the ropes with this one. But he hasn’t got any  choice, it has happened to him again. He continues to do what he thinks is the right thing, he can’t do any other. Now that’s the problem. If he could, I think he would. That’s what everyone around him is telling him to do, to behave like others, be more what other people would consider ‘normal’ but he’s not like that. He can’t be like that. Otherwise he wouldn’t be in this situation and it is only going to get worse.

Coronation Street, Monday, Wednesday and Friday on ITV1, STV, STV Player and ITVX

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