Café owner Roy Cropper is to find himself behind bars this Christmas when he lands Gary Windass in hospital after attacking him with a cricket bat.
Boxing Day’s visit to Weatherfield will see a desperate Gary resort to robbery after splitting up with girlfriend Alya and losing his job with her father Kal. But after letting himself into Roy’s Rolls with mum Anna’s keys, it’s Gary who ends up coming a Cropper after Roy lashes out.
Here, actor David Neilson – who plays Roy – explains what happens when Roy loses his temper…
Tell us what happens when Roy hears the noise downstairs… First of all he is really scared, but then he decides he has got to fight back and the click goes in his brain and the red mist descends. He goes into the cafe and sees the guy wearing the hoody and he doesn’t think twice. He attacks him. It’s someone in his space.
Why doesn’t he call the police? It’s a split-second thing – at that point calling the police is not something which enters his head. He’s in the middle of the situation and it is an instinctive reaction to lash out.
At one point does he realise it’s Gary? Only when Sinead tells him to stop when they are outside. He has hit him three times and he’s about to hit him again – I think he would just have carried on hitting him. Sinead’s voice stops him and breaks through the red mist and the person on the ground rolls over and it is Gary.
Everything that has happened to him has come to the fore in that one moment and the person who broke into the cafe is going to get it as a result. Some people will identify with that, I think. It is an animal instinct. For me, it gives me something different to play.
Were you surprised to be given this to play as Roy? He’s always had something quite angry about him. In the early days, he would get very angry about the way Hayley was treated. He’s a very straight guy and nothing is ever easy for Roy, which is what makes it a joy for me. Everything is conflicted, everything is difficult. So he has this pent-up fury which he levens with deep thought. He thinks about everything, there is nothing spontaneous about him, everything is reasoned out so these things won’t happen. But when you get down to the raw animal instinct, something hits a nerve and it’s gone. That is why he always has to hold himself down.
So once the police have been called and it starts to sink in, how does he react? He is acutely embarrassed, shocked and ashamed. He has let himself and Hayley down – he is extremely disappointed in himself.
How does he cope with being in a cell? He’s trying to remember what happened and get some clarity. He is there in the cell in his Christmas sweater and whereas a lot of people would try and make excuses to make things easier for themselves Roy is determined to be completely honest and be punished for what he’s done. He wants them to lock him up – he wants it to be done properly.
And how does it affect his relationship with Anna? Roy is quite up front and tells her exactly what happened. He tells her that he hit him as he was running away. Gary wasn’t attacking Roy – he was running away. He was no threat to him. He hits Gary repeatedly – once Anna hears this, she becomes very maternal and Roy and Anna’s friendship disintegrates.
What happens between him and Gary? Gary is the least of his problems, really. Gary is very generous – he doesn’t want charges to be pressed but it is the reactions of Anna, Sinead and Mary who are scared that they have an animal in their midst. For Roy, even those reactions are acceptable because he thinks the same of himself and he sees their reaction as part of the punishment and perfectly understands it. He doesn’t try to explain himself or try to change people’s reaction towards him, he doesn’t have the ability to do that. He struggles with that type of thing and fitting in.
Is he scared by what he did? Yes he is. He did it, he was responsible, he could kill somebody, he realises he is capable of doing that. As much as he would never have thought he never could be capable of that, he has to face up to the fact that he could. Once a trigger goes, or a button is pressed, then anything is possible.
Has he got anyone supporting him in court? Carla and Chesney are there for him – he hasn’t been abandoned by everyone. But his problem is that he knows he is guilty and he is disappointed when he’s given community service. I actually took a small suitcase with me in the scenes as if he expected to go down. He would have liked to have served at least six months.
What can make Roy feel better as he head into 2015? In a way, this is part of it. Some of this is anger at everything, what life has dealt him, what has been taken away from him. That emotion is coming from a lot of repressed feeling, which includes Hayley’s death. That lances that a bit and things start to even themselves out. It is a turning point for him until eventually he is able to scatter the ashes. He has had 12 months of grief and we may start to see him come out of that.