Roy Cropper as portrayed by David Neilson
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||David Neilson|
|First appearance||19 July 1995|
|Introduced by||Sue Pritchard|
|Coronation Street: Romanian Holiday|
|Home||16 Victoria Street|
Royston "Roy" Cropper is a fictional character from the British soap opera Coronation Street, played by David Neilson. He was introduced during the episode broadcast on 19 July 1995. Originally a secondary character, he was given a more prominent role in 1997, by the executive producer of Coronation Street, Brian Park. Roy has been featured in numerous high-profile storylines, most notably marrying the first transsexual character in a British soap opera, Hayley Patterson played by Julie Hesmondhalgh.
Roy purchases one of Mike Baldwin's (Johnny Briggs) flats in Crimea Street. His concern for Deirdre Rachid's (Anne Kirkbride) welfare almost gets him evicted as she mistakenly believes he is pestering her. Roy takes care of Jamie Armstrong (Joseph Gilgun) and Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard), after she is beaten up by her husband Jim (Charles Lawson).
Jamie's mother, Tricia (Tracy Brabin), starts taking advantage of Roy's helpful nature. Roy purchases Alma Baldwin's (Amanda Barrie) share of Jim's Café and goes into business with Gail Platt (Helen Worth) and renames the café, Roy's Rolls. Roy meets Hayley Patterson, with whom he instantly finds a rapport. Like himself, she is shy and naive; they find they have a lot in common and begin dating but during an intimate dinner, Hayley reveals that she is a pre-operative transsexual woman, born male but in the process of transition to become a woman. Roy reacts badly, rejecting Hayley and becoming depressed until Alma makes Roy realise that he has been hasty. When Hayley leaves to have sex reassignment surgery in Amsterdam, Roy misses her and goes to Amsterdam to meet her and bring her back. Hayley buys Gail's share in the café and she moves in with Roy. He proposes to Hayley on Valentine's Day, but she initially declines due to the legal situation surrounding marriage for transsexual people. More problems arise when Hayley's secret becomes public knowledge. Roy is embarrassed but, following various arguments, he pledges to stand by Hayley and proposes again and this time she accepts but when they go to see a vicar, he refuses to marry them. However, Roy meets Jessica Lundy (Olwen May), a curate who agrees to perform a blessing ceremony for him and Hayley but the church ceremony is ruined when Les Battersby (Bruce Jones) alerts the press. Roy and Hayley return to the café and have the blessing there instead and Hayley gets her surname changed by deed poll to Cropper.
Knowing they can't have children of their own, Roy and Hayley become temporary foster carers, taking in Fiz Brown (Jennie McAlpine) and she causes them various problems. They also look after Wayne Hayes (Gary Damer) and form a close relationship. He visits them repeatedly and even his mother comes to visit on one occasion, worried about the influence Roy and Hayley have over Wayne. Wayne's stepfather, however, takes advantage of their feelings for Wayne and allow them to take custody of Wayne as long as they pay him for the privilege. However, eventually Roy and Hayley decide to stand up to Wayne's stepfather and refuse to give him back and even go on the run with Wayne briefly but Wayne's mother calls the police and reports them for kidnapping her son so they are caught and arrested. They charges are dropped when Wayne's domestic situation is exposed.
For a bet, Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford) spikes Roy's drink at a wedding reception. She then takes him home and puts him in her bed. Tracy later announces she is pregnant with his child. Hayley is devastated and after she leaves Roy, he contemplates suicide. Hayley returns and the Croppers agree to buy Tracy's baby and wanting to make sure they have parental rights to the baby, Roy marries Tracy. Tracy gives birth to a daughter and she gives custody to the Croppers, who register her birth and name her Patience but Tracy reveals, on Steve and Karen's wedding day, that she wants her daughter back and that Steve McDonald is Patience's father, not Roy as they never actually slept together. Initially they refuse to give Patience back to her mother but are persuaded by Ken Barlow, Tracy's father. Roy is devastated and he and Hayley reluctantly return the baby and Tracy renames her Amy. Roy and Tracy's marriage is subsequently annulled and feeling guilty, she repays the money that the Croppers gave her and asks them to be her godparents.
Roy is bullied by builder Vince (Conrad Nelson) and his arrival brings up many unpleasant memories for Roy, as he recounts to Hayley the physical and psychological torture he suffered in his youth. When he is alone in the cafe, Vince comes in and demands a free meal. When Roy refuses, Vince plunges Roy's face into the scalding hot fry-up and beats him with a spatula and is only stopped by Charlie Stubbs (Bill Ward), who warns Vince not to return to the street. Roy mentors Fiz's younger brother Chesney Brown (Sam Aston) and he sells his comic collection to buy a Morris Minor.
Roy is furious when he learns Hayley has a son and their marriage nearly ends. However, with support from his employee, Becky Granger (Katherine Kelly), Roy makes peace with Hayley and supports her when she decides to do charity work in Africa. Roy allows Becky to move in while Hayley is away but he throws her out when he learns of her affair with Steve McDonald. They later make up and Roy gives her away at her wedding.
Roy finds Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien) lying outside Underworld after he has suffered a heart attack. Roy calls an ambulance and Tony is rushed to hospital. Roy is shocked when Tony confesses to having Liam Connor (Rob James-Collier) murdered. Tony recovers and Roy fails to persuade him to confess the truth. Tony threatens to kill Roy and Hayley and they report him to the police, resulting in Tony's arrest. The police let him go due to a lack of evidence and he tries to murder Roy by trying to sneak up on Roy, who is bat-watching by the river, with a knife but fails and ends up pushing Roy into the canal. On seeing his struggles as he can't swim, Tony rescues him and later hands himself in to the police, while Roy is found by Hayley and Becky.
Roy proposes to Hayley again, but tensions over the wedding cause Hayley to move in with Anna Windass (Debbie Rush). A few weeks later, Tony returns and holds Hayley hostage in Underworld. He later lets her go and she reunites with Roy, just as the factory blows up. On the day of the wedding, Hayley is late due to some interference by scorned wedding planner Mary Taylor (Patti Clare). She eventually makes it to the ceremony and she and Roy are married. Roy receives a letter from his estranged mother, Sylvia (Stephanie Cole), telling him that his stepfather had died. A few days later, Sylvia turns up to give Roy a train set. Hayley asks Roy to let Sylvia move in with them and begins working with Roy in the café.
Everything goes well with Sylvia, but in 2013, Sylvia leaves with just a note to explain her departure. Things get worse for Roy and Hayley when Hayley is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and Hayley accepts her death better than Roy. Hayley then reveals that she wants to die before the cancer reverts her back to her old self, but Roy struggles to accept her decision.
Character creation and development
The character Royston Cropper, played by David Neilson, is introduced in July 1995 as "a rather odd and scary loner" living in a block of flats near the long-running character Deirdre Rachid (Anne Kirkbride). Actor David Neilson got the part on the recommendation of Coronation Street writer Stephen Mallatratt, a close friend of Neilson's who helped to "mould the character". According to Neilson, the character was initially only brought in for six episodes, but the role was extended and Roy was made into a regular character.
Described primarily as an "incidental character", Roy is not given any significant storylines until 1997. Behind the scenes, the soap was going through a period of change. Coronation Street was lagging behind the BBC's rival soap EastEnders in the ratings, so a new executive producer, Brian Park, was brought in to revitalise the show and attract younger viewers. Aside from multiple axings and introducing various dramatic storylines, Park also decided to give some of the less prominent existing characters a much higher profile; among them was Roy Cropper, who was brought to the forefront of the soap throughout 1997 and 1998, taking over a share in Gail Platt's (Helen Worth) cafe (changing its name to Roy’s Rolls). This gave the character more screen time and, gradually, he was incorporated into the lives of other characters.
Originally, Roy was intended as a psychopathic, villainous character whose tenure would last for only six episodes. Neilson described the character as "scary", and "a bit like Norman Bates in [the horror film] Psycho". However, Neilson felt compelled to reinvent Roy as a sympathetic character, socially inept, rather than menacing. His pestering of neighbour Deirdre Rachid and his unusual behaviour could be explained by Asperger syndrome—a disorder which Neilson has since attempted to portray in the character. This ultimately extended the character's screen life, turning him into a fan favourite. Misunderstood, he was almost evicted from his flats for his behaviour towards Deirdre, though he was actually only showing concern for her welfare. He was summed up by the character Mike Baldwin as “a bit of a nutter, but harmless enough”. Although it has never been officially confirmed on-screen, it has indeed been suggested by critics that Roy has Asperger syndrome, due to his obsessive compulsive tendencies and because of his literal interpretations and miscomprehension of nuances and subtleties.
Described as "remarkably intelligent, but socially naïve", Roy Cropper is a pure atheist. He is a fan of buses and trains, wears a beige anorak, scarf, woollen gloves and clutching a nylon shopping bag with a set of keys taped to the handle. Actor David Neilson has since revealed that his character's "infamous old shopping bag", complete with attached keys, were props that he introduced. The bag and keys belonged to Neilson's mother, who died shortly before he took on the role in 1995. He has commented, "My mum sadly passed away just before I started on the show and I wanted to carry something of hers. I also wanted to add my own props and develop the character. The bag carries nothing more than my script."
Despite Roy's initial "creepy" persona, viewers were eventually shown a different side to the character. He was converted from a creep to an eccentric; A quiet and shy intellectual man, with few social skills and a penchant for trivial information, but underneath it all, a man with "a heart of gold". He has been described as compassionate, moral, sensitive and full of integrity; taking in waifs and strays and helping his neighbours whenever possible. Commenting on his character, Neilson has said, "Roy is absolutely his own person and hugely honourable. Some people think he's simple. He's not. He's a very complex man with hidden depths. And there's lots more to explore...There's something tragic about Roy. I think there is a big black cloud that follows him around and one day it is going to really dump on him."
Relationship with Hayley Patterson
As the character becomes more prominent, producers decided to introduce a romantic interest for Roy. Hayley Patterson is introduced in 1998, and her relationship with Roy turns out to be one of the more controversial storylines in Coronation Street's history, as it is later revealed that Hayley is a pre-op transsexual woman, originally born male. In an article published by "Press for Change" (a political lobbying and educational organisation, which campaigns to achieve equal civil rights and liberties for all trans people in the UK), an advisor who helped studio writers at Granada Television with this storyline has given an account on its conceptualisation: "It was decided that Roy needed a girlfriend, but what kind of woman would go for Roy, or vice-versa? Ideally, she would have to be a female mirror image of himself. So the character started development and Hayley Patterson...was created. But then someone suggested something; what if she had a dark secret? What if she was transsexual!? Hayley being Harry, in her past life. After some argument and hard thinking, the idea stuck. It was a very controversial move for the long-running show... 'Corrie' had never gone this far."
Hayley's initial purpose was to boost ratings and to act as a "foil" for Roy, "to bring him out of himself a bit and show another side to the man". There were initial criticisms about the storyline and the character of Hayley from the transgender community in the UK, mainly because the actress who played Hayley was not a real transgendered person. However, as the storyline progressed, viewers and critics warmed to Roy and Hayley's romance. Hayley was finally shown to relay her secret to Roy during a candlelit meal in his cafe. Horrified, Roy rejected her, but after a period of reflection he eventually came around, resolving to remain friends with Hayley until she left for Amsterdam to undergo a sex change. Although the character of Hayley was only meant to be short-term, she and her relationship with Roy are so well received by viewers, that the producers of Coronation Street decide to reintroduce her. On-screen, Roy tracks down Hayley and they reunite in a special set of episodes, shot on location in Amsterdam in the Netherlands; Hayley is persuaded to return to Weatherfield with Roy and rebuild their relationship. Actor David Neilson has complimented the storyline, describing the writing as "absolutely beautiful", and Roy and Hayley are now considered to be one of Coronation Street's "classic" couples.
- Dainty, Sophie (9 April 2013). "'Coronation Street': Roy Cropper to visit father's grave". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
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- Harper, James (8 July 2001). "Roy's sad tale is out of the bag". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 2008-01-11.[dead link]
- "My week: PAUL BAILEY". The Independent. 10 August 2003. Retrieved 2008-01-11.[dead link]
- "Corrie goes shopping for train-mad Roy". The Independent. 26 March 2004. Retrieved 2008-01-11.[dead link]
- Mangan, Lucy (1 December 2003). "Why I Love...Roy Cropper". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
- "Hayley and Roy? We're a match made in heaven". This is Lancashire. 7 March 1998. Retrieved 2008-01-11.[dead link]
- "Street life for Roy and Hayley". Hartlepoolmail. 19 September 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
- Kilkelly, Daniel (21 October 2013). "Inside Soap Awards 2013 - winners list in full". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 21 October 2013.