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Roy Cropper
Roy Cropper
Occupation Proprietor of Roy's Rolls
Born 21st September 1954
Residence 16a Victoria Street
Father St. John Cropper
Mother Sylvia Goodwin
Sibling(s) Isabelle Cropper (half sister)
Stephen Cropper (half brother)
Jonathan Cropper (half brother)
Spouse(s) Tracy Barlow (2003)
Hayley Cropper (2010)
First appearance 19th July 1995
Duration 1995 to present
Number of appearances 1666 (as of Episode 8368)
Played by David Neilson

Royston "Roy" Cropper is played by David Neilson. The character was introduced on 19th July 1995. Originally a secondary character, he was given a more prominent role in 1997 by the producer of Coronation Street, Brian Park. Roy has been featured in numerous high-profile storylines, most notably marrying the first transsexual character in British soap, Hayley Patterson (formerly Harold, but after a sex change Harold became Hayley).[1]

BiographyEdit

Roy Cropper was first introduced in 1995 when he purchased one of Mike Baldwin's flats at 5 Crimea Street. Roy had an unhappy childhood. His father, a French polisher, walked out on his mother when he was ten, and didn’t get in touch for eight years after starting a new life in New Zealand. Young Roy took this badly. He hated his stepfather and eventually left home to fend for himself.

Roy has the look and manner of the archetypal “anorak”. His keen interest in the well being of his fellow man is easily mistaken for nosiness, and he was almost evicted from the flats for pestering Deirdre Rachid when he was worried about her welfare. He has also displayed a caring attitude to both young Jamie Armstrong and Liz McDonald after she was beaten up by husband Jim. Jamie’s mum, Tricia, took advantage of Roy’s helpful nature.

In summer 1997, Roy bought Alma Baldwin's share of Jim's Cafe for £35,000, partnering with Gail Platt. After Gail left the business, the cafe was renamed “Roy’s Rolls” and Roy moved into the upstairs flat. A major chapter opened in Roy’s life when, in February 1998, he met Hayley Patterson, with whom he instantly found a rapport. Like himself, she was shy and naive; they found they had a lot in common. However, after an intimate dinner, Hayley revealed she was a pre-operative transsexual, born male, but assuming the identity of a woman. Roy reacted badly, rejecting Hayley and going into a depression. Alma intervened and Roy, missing his companion, decided he had been hasty. Their relationship continued as friendship, until Hayley left to have a sex change in Amsterdam. Roy began to miss her and tracked her down to the houseboat where she was living. Hayley was touched and decided to return to Weatherfield. They moved in together and Roy soon proposed to Hayley, who had to tearfully decline, due to the legal situation surrounding marriage for transsexuals. More problems arose when the rest of Weatherfield discovered Hayley's secret. Roy was embarrassed but, following various arguments, pledged to stand by Hayley and once again proposed and she happily accepted. However, when they went to see a vicar, he refused to marry them, quoting the Bible. Roy was disappointed but still determined. He met Jessica Lundy, the temporary lady curate for St Paul's church, and after some deliberation, she agreed to marry them. The church ceremony was due to take place on 21st April 1999, but was ruined by Les Battersby, who had tipped off the press. A devastated Roy and Hayley returned to the cafe, thinking the ceremony a washout, but, after a moment of inspiration from Roy, they were married in the cafe. During the reception, Hayley revealed to Roy she had changed her name by deed poll to Hayley Cropper.

Roy and Hayley's desire for a child led to them attempting fostering. They fostered Fiz Brown, who caused them various problems, and got entangled in the problems of another troubled child, Wayne Hayes. They refused to give him back to his volatile stepfather Alex Swinton, and abducted him. They were caught and arrested, although they were cleared when Wayne's domestic situation was exposed. Wayne was returned to his grateful mother Sheila, and the two spent that Christmas with the Croppers. However the incident left the two with a black mark on their record which prevented them from ever fostering again.

In 2003, Tracy Barlow made a 1p bet with Bev Unwin that she could bed Roy, when Bev pointed him out as the one person she knew least likely to cheat on his wife. Tracy spent the next few weeks trying to charm Roy, but was put out to find that Bev was right. Irked at the idea there was a man she couldn't seduce, Tracy decided to play dirty and at Peter Barlow and Shelley Unwin's wedding reception (where Hayley wasn't present as she was caring for her sick Aunty Monica) spiked his drink and dragged him back to the Barlows' house where she took him upstairs and undressed him. The next morning Roy woke up and was horrified to believe that he slept with Tracy (which she confirmed to him), and felt even worse when was is spotted leaving the house by Ken and Deirdre and that Tracy slept with him for a bet. Soon the news spread around the Street, however all the residents sided with Roy as it was clear he was taken advantage of while Tracy was kicked out by her parents for her act and her lack of remorse. When Hayley returned, Roy immediately confessed his 'betrayal' however Hayley didn't believe he would do it especially as he didn't remember a thing, but Roy was certain and Tracy fled to London, leaving Hayley with no choice but to believe that the two had sex. Despite this, Hayley pledged to stand by Roy but their marriage was clearly strained.

Soon after Tracy returned with the news that she had fallen pregnant but intended to have an abortion. Roy begged her not to, but she refused. Hayley began to grow angrier with Roy when he refused to move on from what happened and eventually left him, intending to move back to Amsterdam. Driven to despair, Roy decided to commit suicide however when Hayley spoke to him on the phone to leave forwarding details she sensed something was wrong and broke into the flat and found Roy had taken an overdose. After saving his life by forcing him to vomit up the pills, she told him that she had decided not to leave and would help him stop Tracy having an abortion but made no secret of the fact that she was furious with him for everything that happened and their marriage was in jeopardy, although it did recover afterwards.

Roy and Hayley eventually convinced Tracy to have the baby by agreeing to pay her £20,000 and in return she would give them the baby upon its birth. The agreement was soon in place, but Roy and Hayley felt the arrangement was unstable as there was nothing to stop Tracy disappearing with the cash and the baby. Feeling they had to get rights over the baby by any means necessary, they forced Tracy to marry Roy. The two forced themselves through the ceremony (as Roy and Hayley were not officially married), only for Roy to learn afterwards he could have been granted paternal rights anyway. What Tracy hadn't revealed was that Steve McDonald was the baby's actual father, having slept with him soon before the reception only for him to reject her when she told him the truth about the baby. Tracy gave birth to a little girl and handed her to the Croppers as agreed, who named her "Patience". However, Tracy began to regret the deal and wanted the baby back. On the day of Steve and Karen McDonald's wedding she revealed everything to the congregation. Roy and Hayley fled to the cafe with the baby, but was followed by Tracy and her family who demanded the little girl back. Roy and Hayley hated the idea of turning the baby over to Tracy, but knew they'd have no chance if it went to court since they had no rights. With no choice Roy reluctantly returned the child to Tracy who renamed her Amy Barlow. Roy and Tracy's marriage was subsequently annulled and Tracy, in an attempt to build bridges at Ken's suggestion, made Roy and Hayley godparents to Amy.

In 2005, Roy was bullied by builder Vince. Vince's arrival brought up many unpleasant memories for Roy, as he recounted to Hayley the physical and psychological torture he suffered. When he was in the cafe by himself, Vince came in and demanded a free meal. When Roy refused, Vince plunged Roy's face into the scalding hot fry-up and beat him with a spatula, and was only stopped by Charlie Stubbs, who warned Vince not to return to the Street.

In 2007, Hayley opted to keep from Roy the discovery that she had an adult son (born during her prior life as a man), and he was incensed when he eventually discovered the truth. Their marriage nearly ended because of his very high regard for absolute truth. However, with support from his employee Becky Granger (whose life was turned around by the Croppers' support), Roy realised the error of his ways, and made peace and went on a holiday with Hayley before she departed to do charity work in Africa. He had considered going too, but decided against it.

In 2008, Roy entered into a row with some violent men in the cafe, and after the police wrongly investigated Roy on his attempting to return a lost phone that one of the men had left in the cafe, the police got the idea that Roy and Ken were dealing drugs to the men, resulting in the arrest of him and Ken. But after the police experienced a confrontation from Becky, they were set free.

Character creation and developmentEdit

BackgroundEdit

The character Royston Cropper, played by David Neilson, was 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).[2] 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".[3] 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.[4]

Described primarily as an "incidental character", Roy was not given any significant storylines until 1997.[2] 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. Dubbed the "Freddy Kruger and Axeman of Coronation Street",[5] Parks was responsible for introducing the “family from hell”, the Battersbys, and axing longer-serving characters such as Andy McDonald, Maureen Holdsworth, Bill Webster, Don Brennan, Percy Sugden and Derek Wilton.[6][7] The axing of Derek Wilton also resulted in the resignation of actress Thelma Barlow, who played Dereks's popular on-screen wife, Mavis Wilton; Barlow reportedly quit in protest, bringing a 26 year run in the soap to an end.[8] Aside from multiple axings and introducing various dramatic storylines, Parks also decided to give some of the less prominent existing characters a much higher profile. Among them, Roy Cropper, who was brought to the forefront of the soap throughout 1997 and 1998, taking over a share in Gail Platt's 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.[2]

PersonalityEdit

Roy was initially perceived as a very different character than he went on to become. Neilson has commented that initially, Roy was "a bit like Norman Bates in the horror film Psycho".[3] Misunderstood, he was almost evicted from his flats for pestering his neighbour Deirdre Rachid, 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”.[9] It has been suggested that Roy has Asperger's syndrome, due to his obsessive compulsive tendencies and because of his literal interpretations and miscomprehension of nuances and subtleties, though this has never been officially confirmed on-screen.[10][11]

Described as "remarkably intelligent, but socially naïve", the character is a stereotypical portrayal of an "anorak";[2] A fan of buses and trains, dressed like a geek, in a beige anorak, scarf, woollen gloves and clutching a nylon shopping bag with a set of keys taped to the handle.[12][13] 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."[13]

Despite Roy's initial "creepy" persona,[13] viewers were eventually shown a different side to the character. He was converted from a creep to an eccentric;[14] 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".[12][9] He's been described as compassionate, moral, sensitive and full of integrity; taking in waifs and strays and helping his neighbours whenever possible.[15][16] 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."[3]

Romance with HayleyEdit

As the character became more prominent, producers decided to introduce a romantic interest for Roy. Hayley Patterson (Julie Hesmondhalgh) was introduced in 1998, and her relationship with Roy turned out to be one of the more controversial storylines in Coronation Street's history, as it was later revealed that Hayley was a pre-op transsexual, born a man but assuming the identity of a woman.[17] 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."[2]

Hayley's principle 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".[2] 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 trans person.[2] However, as the storyline progressed, viewers and critics warmed to Roy and Hayley's romance.[2] 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 the serial for Amsterdam to undergo a sex change.[18] Although the character of Hayley was only meant to be short-term, she and her relationship with Roy were so well received by viewers, that the producers of Coronation Street decided to reintroduce her.[2] On-screen, Roy traced Hayley and they reunited in a special set of episodes, shot on-location in Amsterdam, Holland; Hayley was 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.[3]

QuotesEdit

"Morning!" (First Line to Deirdre Rachid)

See alsoEdit

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Current characters
Dennis Tanner | Ken Barlow | Emily Bishop | Rita Tanner | Peter Barlow | Deirdre Barlow | Gail McIntyre | Tracy Barlow | Audrey Roberts | Nick Tilsley | Kevin Webster | Sally Webster | Liz McDonald | Steve McDonald | David Platt | Norris Cole | Sophie Webster | Roy Cropper | Leanne Tilsley | Tyrone Dobbs | Dev Alahan | Eileen Grimshaw | Maria Connor | Kirk Sutherland | Jason Grimshaw | Todd Grimshaw | Fiz Stape | Tony Stewart | Simon Barlow | Sean Tully | Chesney Brown | Amy Barlow | Lloyd Mullaney | Aadi Alahan | Asha Alahan | Michelle Connor | Carla Barlow | Marcus Dent | Tina McIntyre | Julie Carp | Anna Windass | Gary Windass | Mary Taylor | Liam Connor Jr. | Izzy Armstrong | Owen Armstrong | Katy Armstrong | Kylie Platt | Max Turner | Jack Webster | Hope Stape | Faye Windass | Eva Price | Beth Tinker | Craig Tinker | Joseph Brown | Rob Donovan | Ruby Soames | Jenna Kamara | Tim Metcalfe | Steph Britton | Sinead Tinker | Jake Windass | Lily Platt | Kal Nazir | Andrea Beckett | Maddie Heath | Sharif Nazir | Luke Britton

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