May was approached by producer Tony Shryane to join The Archers as Nelson in 1952. May remained with the show until January 1997, when he was forced to leave due to his declining health. He died later that year.
The son of Walter Gabriel (Chris Gittins), the village carrier and self-appointed "character", Nelson was for many years the most disreputable character in the village. He was charged with the Borchester mail-van robbery in 1967, but was eventually acquitted. After spells in London and Spain, in the 1980s he ran a wine bar and later an antique shop with Kenton Archer. Finally he disappeared to South America, where he died in strange circumstances.
Listeners voted Nelson the "greatest rogue" in Archers history, while a writer for SOAP magazine named him one of the "10 Great Archers Characters". They said "Son of the late, lamented Walter Gabriel whose eloquence and erudition cloak a shady past involving criminal activity and a suspicious absence of any love interest anywhere along the way, though he mysteriously acquired a daughter somewhere down the line."