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Sitcom legend reveals why he couldn't resist playing Roy Cropper's brother in Coronation Street

Roy meets his brother Richard in Coronation Street

'David Neilson is a legend!'

Actor Paul Bown has spoken about his new role as the secret brother of Roy Cropper in Coronation Street – and revealed he couldn’t resist accepting the part as it meant he got to work with David Neilson, who plays the Weatherfield café owner.

Paul, best known for playing mummy’s boy Malcolm Stoneway in hit ITV sitcom Watching, will make his debut on the soap next week when Roy finds an address for Richard and pays him a visit.

Paul Bown and Emma Wray in Watching

Paul Bown and Emma Wray in iconic ITV sitcom Watching (credit: Alamy stock photo) (Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

As Roy is set to discover, Richard is terminally ill with the lung disease pulmonary fibrosis – meaning the brothers’ fledgling relationship is set to be cruelly cut short. Richard also has a teenage daughter, Nina – Roy’s niece.

Says Paul: “I’ve managed not to do any [prime-time] soaps, ever. There was a role in EastEnders that came up, playing a Vicar, but I didn’t fancy it in the end. That was about five or 10 years ago.

“This was particularly attractive because it was Roy. They sold it to me because it meant working with David Neilson, who is a legend.

“He’s a really good listener and he’s a proper good actor; he’s the real thing. We’ve both worked with [film director] Mike Leigh, and we both like [playwright] Samuel Beckett, so we had lots to chat about between takes. We’re both London-based, and we’ll keep in touch.”

Richard is the product of Roy’s mum Sylvia’s affair with a man called Raymond, and was adopted shortly after his birth.

Roy knew nothing of the affair until earlier this year, when Sylvia passed away. Amongst the pensioner’s possessions was a ring with a mysterious inscription. With the help of neighbour Brian Packham and former foster son Wayne Hayes, Roy then researched his family history and found out about the secret relationship.

Future episodes will see Carla notice that Roy has seemingly become obsessed with online scrabble. When she questions her friend, Roy reveals that he believes his playing partner is his sibling, and the brunette then accompanies him when he heads to Richard’s flat to introduce himself.

Adds Paul: “It sounds like a morbid storyline, but Richard and Roy hit it off and there’s quite a few funny moments in there. Richard was a good footballer in his day, so Roy tries to show an interest in football to bond with him.

“The DNA is there, but the common interests are not!”

Coronation Street continues on ITV.