When Roy Cropper comes face to face with Nina Lucas, the niece he never knew he had, the teenage Goth will join a select few who have been nurtured by the philanthropic cafe owner – including Katherine Kelly’s Becky Granger and Jennie McAlpine’s Fiz Stape – a move which usually cements the character’s eventual popularity.
It’s the first TV role for Manchester born actor Mollie Gallagher, 21, whose introductory scenes are with David Neilson, Alison King (Carla Connor) and Paul Bown, best known for late ’80s sitcom Watching, who plays her bed-ridden father Richard. The two are introduced after Roy tracks down his long lost brother, who was the result of an affair his mother Sylvia had, through an online Scrabble site.
It’s the perfect storyline for both the newcomer and the old hand, allowing Roy Cropper to do what he does best – help a neglected soul. Despite her shutting the door on the cafe-owner when he first comes knocking, her father’s serious illness will throw Nina and Roy closer together. Described by the show as a ‘troublesome teen’ it is likely that Roy will find a way to understand rather than condemn her whether she likes it or not.
“Roy works well when he has something to focus on, a problem to solve or someone to look out for, particularly someone who others may see as a bit different,” Neilson said. “Roy can identify with that as he has been an outsider himself. It is interesting and it puts him on his mettle. They are different generations and worlds apart but there is a connection between them.”
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With Roy braced for another childcare stint, RadioTimes.com remembers the others who Roy has taken under his wing…
Becky Granger (Katherine Kelly)
One of the wildest children to ever come Roy’s way, Becky started with a bit of shoplifting and graduated to joy-riding before Roy’s Rolls caught fire and Roy and Hayley assumed the worst. In fact that was down to faulty wiring in the deep-fat fryer. Becky would continue to surprise and exasperate Roy throughout her seven years, but when it came to those big moments like marrying/not marrying Steve McDonald he was always there to pick up the pieces.
Fiz Stape (Jennie McAlpine)
Fiz was fostered by Roy and Hayley back in 2001 when she was put into care after her mother Cilla Battersby-Brown (Wendi Peters) did one of her disappearing acts. Now a responsible mother-of-two (even if Hope is a pyromaniac) it’s hard to remember what a tearaway the young Fiz was. Roy taught her a solid work ethic from the time that he employed her in the cafe. And he stuck up for her and Tyrone when Beth and Tracy Barlow gossiped about Tyrone’s wrongful trial for abuse which had been engineered by his abuser girlfriend Kirsty Soames (Natalie Gumede).
Wayne Hayes (Adam Barlow)
Abuse victim Wayne never forgot the love and support he received from Roy and Hayley as a teenage runaway when they took him in after he stole food from the cafe. They stood up to his abuser, his surrogate stepfather Alex Swinton (Joe Simpson) even when he resorted to blackmail. Wayne made a surprise return in 2019 as an investigator for the Underworld roof collapse. His relationship was complicated by the investigation initially implicating Carla, but Wayne and Roy left on good terms and he even got involved in the hunt for Roy’s mother Sylvia’s missing ring.
Carla Connor (Alison King)
It’s not every friend who will offer you their kidney, but that’s the sort of lengths Roy has been prepared to go to to look after Carla (in the end she accepted one from her late half-brother Aidan). Roy has helped Carla with her struggles with alcoholism and stood by her when she was ostracised by the factory workers. The only time he drew the line was when she lied to him when his sleepwalking started the fire on Peter Barlow’s boat. Carla Connor never shrunk so small as he told her: “Know this, I am bitterly disappointed in you.”