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David Crellin

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David Crellin
Emmerdale's Billy Hopwood made his return to the Dales last month to a not-so-happy homecoming - and the next few months look to be much of the same, as he faces a constant battle with his two sons and as well as struggling to deal with a distraught Kelly who holds a vendetta against him after the death of her father, Vic.

Earlier this week, Digital Spy caught up with actor David Crellin who revealed what it was like filming this week's truck crash scenes, and what's to come for his character over the coming weeks.

How did you feel when you were asked to return to Emmerdale in a more permanent role? How did it come about?
"They got in touch about six months ago, asking whether I would be interested in returning, coming back on. I went straight for it. The only reservation I had was that I didn't want to repeat any previous behaviour - otherwise, yeah, I was well up for it. When I first came on, which was eight years ago, it was always a very enjoyable job to do. I've said this before, when I first arrived in the Green Room here, I was shaking with nerves, and it was a Woolpack filming day, must be about 25 actors in. And that morning, every actor who came in the Green Room walked over, gave me their name and said hello, introduced themselves.

"So from moment one, it was very accepting. It was very pleasurable. The idea of coming back was great. The only reservation would have been if I was back with a shotgun! I suppose in a way, I have to spend a few nights away from home over here, and I did marry my wife for a reason, I quite enjoy my own bed and spending time with the wife, but work does take you away from home! You have to take it on the chin, don't you?"

This week, Billy makes an unwelcome return to the village. What happens when he returns?
"He has to get past Viv first, that's the first hurdle! He's just trying to make contact with his sons, touch down. He gets a very mixed response due to his past behaviour. Andy struggles, he's bound to struggle, and I think he's going to struggle for a long, long time. He wants to lay down some kind of roots - he's spent his life drifting from place to place or being stuck in institutions, and that's very much cos he's from a dysfunctional family. It's difficult to be a parent when you've never been shown how to be a parent. I think it's a lot... The family aren't functioning as well as they could, because, like their parents, they weren't given any positive role models, and Billy's probably struggling against a very dysfunctional past."

Do you think Billy wants to make amends this time, or is he stuck in his old ways?
"I don't know what his old ways were. When he was originally in the programme, he wanted to make a bit of money and have a champagne lifestyle like everybody else has. He's seen everybody else having, they've all got cars, all got houses. They don't all have silly jobs. He's seen some of them hardly work at all, to his perspective. He wants what they've got, and does whatever he can to get it. Because he's not very intelligent, he tries to turn to robbery. The back story of the character was that he was previously involved with a raid on a warehouse. He's hung around with an inner-city gang, who carried arms because that's what you did - everyone went out and got tooled up, took some drugs and raided a shop or whatever.

"I think, because he came from that background...if he'd been born in a different place with different people, he would have been a very different man. He's a product of his environment, and he's always just wanted to have a life, his own house, his own stuff. He had no idea how to achieve it, and made some ridiculous and monumental mistakes because of it."

Where does the land lie between Billy and Kelly?
"Billy and Kelly? It's a very difficult one. He didn't go out of his way to kill her dad - her dad turned up unexpectedly and in the struggle he banged his head, he didn't actually deliberately murder him. He has no issue with Kelly, but it proves to him why Kelly would struggle to deal with him. That's why she is herself quite a damaged person."

There's a van crash on the Thursday, and I believe you only filmed that last week...
"We filmed the exterior shots about a week and a half ago. The interior shots were filmed just before Christmas in a controlled environment in a pool up in Fleetwood. The exterior shots were filmed on a lovely evening in January, out in Yorkshire - bit of hail, bit of rain! We spent time out there paddling about. Luke had the hardest job, the guy who plays Dan. He had to swim out to the middle of this pond, do a duck dive and then come back in again, and he did that several times. The kid, he never complained once, he's a diamond."

What brings about this crash, then?
"Kelly wanted her revenge, Kelly wanted to get Billy, because as far as she's concerned he shouldn't be anywhere near this town, anywhere near Emmerdale, Hotton, or even in the same county. She's hurting, she's hurting really, really bad, so eventually manages, by manipulating others, which is what she's good at, she manages to get someone to have a go at the vehicle, which is less than roadworthy, it's out of control, through a small copse, over a wall, through a small copse, over another wall, and into some open water in the middle of the night on a cold evening. Then Billy and Victoria, who he's found wandering about - he was just giving her a lift back - and she ends up being in the cab, Kelly didn't want that, Kelly just wanted revenge on Billy. So that gives you a different slant."

Were there any funny stories from the outdoor shots you filmed last week?
"I don't know about funny - painful! The thing that sticks in my mind was when we were in the open water - the programme time we're in there and then out in about five minutes. In real time we were in there for four or five hours. It was open water, in Yorkshire, in a wood, with lots of dead leaves on the bottom. You know stagnant black mud? When we first got in it wasn't too bad, but after you've had actors, sound men, cameraman, props guys marching through it, it's like a black soup and it stinks, that stagnant smell. The last couple of shots we did, Billy could be dead, we don't know - so to perform that I had to be completely limp, just pulled through the water, which meant this stagnant soup was in my ears, in my mouth, up my nose, so I don't know whether that's funny, but it was painful. It's all part of the job."

What's next for Billy?
"There's going to be a constant battle with Andy, because Billy put Andy through a real trauma when he was like 14, 15, in the same way he did to Kelly. It wasn't malice, but the point is that it happened. I don't know if there's going to be peace between Andy and Billy, but you'll have to check with the writers - they might decide that they're going to be best friends by the end of June, but I just can't imagine it being an easy one. It's going to take a long, long time and it'll take a long time for Billy to redress the wrongs he's done to Andy. A long, long time. It's much easier with Darren, because although he's been absent, Billy's not caused Darren any immediate, upfront one-on-one pain.

"He's the absent father, there are so many living around the country whose husbands leave, and it doesn't matter what kind of swines they are, because the kids hardly know them they become slightly idealised. I know of a young girl in particular whose dad's a right twat, but because she hardly ever sees him, her mother doesn't want to knock that out of her head, so lets her keep believing it. So he doesn't believe Billy's a great guy, but he doesn't have anything nearing the amount of animosity that Andy's got towards him."

The 'Who Killed Tom King?' storyline - what's your take on it?
"Tootsie's vicious - she'd have him on the chest in no time!

In all seriousness, do you have any inkling?
"No one tells me anything! I don't know what I'm doing in two weeks' time, let alone what everyone else is doing."

How long do you see yourself staying with Emmerdale?
"It'll depend on how it pans out. It depends on what's useful as a storyline for the programme really. Anything from three months to when they get bored of me, I think."

Finally, do you catch any other soaps? What's your take on those?
"I occasionally catch the Archers on Radio 4. Do you know, TV-wise I tend to watch You've Been Framed, Ray Mears, outdoorsy type programmes. I watch very little drama, to be frank. Occasionally I might catch something like My Parents Are Aliens. I have three kids, you see, so the TV is ruled by them. It's a great tragedy. When I was a child, my dad ruled the telly, and I always thought - when I get older, it'll be my house, my telly, and now I am older, but it's not my telly, it's the kids' telly, and we watch what they want to bloody watch most of the time. Rock School has been the most recent thing, and things like Family Guy get a lot of airing in my house, and the occasional South Park."

What would you think if Lisa Riley made a return to Emmerdale?
"Lisa Riley - she's a lovely girl. Fat Friends, she's good on that - she's a great girl, Lisa Riley. Very, very charming young woman. Enjoyed her company. It's about two years since I last saw her - I think she's down in London now. I've not spoken to her myself, I'll give her a ring."

Thanks for chatting, David! Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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