Corrie star says town is home from home

Bruce Jones and Ian Willis

Bruce Jones and Ian Willis

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BRUCE Jones knew things had reached rock bottom when he found himself dishevelled in a police cell, just about sober enough to understand he had tried to wipe out him and his wife by attempting to grab the steering wheel of their car as she drove down a motorway.

Five years earlier, he was arguably the most famous face on TV having taken on the role of Les Battersby and made it his own.

Prior to Weatherfield, his CV was impressive. He’d had a role in BBC series Roughnecks, he regularly appeared in dramas, he even had a part in the box office smash The Full Monty.

Long days on the set of the Granada studios in Manchester were eased by the £250,000 he pocketed each year.

He had the big house, the flash car. He almost had writer’s cramp from the amount of time he spent signing autographs.

Fast forward to Hartlepool earlier this month, and the 58-year-old has a £20 note in his pocket.

Just enough to get a round of drinks in a marina bar, and probably enough to get him by until he is paid £200 cash in hand for a guest appearance at a nightclub later that night.

Putting on a brave face should come easier to someone in his line of work. It should be just as easy to turn on the waterworks in a bid to get sympathy.

But Bruce chooses neither option.

“I’ve been to the top and I want to get back there. That’s why I get up each morning,” he said.

“I’ve had more knock-backs than I care to remember over the last few years. Leaving the Street was the start of it, there’s no doubt about that, absolutely none at all.

“I was stitched up by the News of the World, they tried one of these elaborate hoaxes by getting me in a hotel. They tried to get me in a room with some girls.

“I wasn’t having any of it. I was happy with a pint in the bar, I was waiting for my wife. I said to the guy who turned out to be the reporter ‘you go’.

“They didn’t get the story they wanted – but they still managed to get me all over the headlines anyway and that was the beginning of the end.”

Bruce finds it hard to hide his resentment towards the press, such is the hurt he has been caused in the past.

It takes more than a little persuasion to get him to open up to the Hartlepool Mail.

He went on: “You always want someone to blame. I admit I’ve made mistakes of my own, plenty of them, but people believe what they read in the papers. Mud sticks.

“I’ve been through depression, I’m still going through it. Every day is a battle. Are you going to have a good day or a bad day?

“People say how can he be depressed, everyone knows who he is. It’s not like he’s got a proper job, he’s an actor.

“But the pressure is immense. It was in the Street and it is now.”

So why Hartlepool as the location to start off the road to recovery?

Bruce added: “I knew Goffy years ago, in the 1990s when I was in Corrie and he was working for Century Radio in the North West.

“We got to know each other, and got on well. We kept in touch.

“It’s amazing how many people want your number when you’re appearing on the telly every night. Everyone wants to be your mate.

“But when the sticky stuff hits the fan, the phone calls gradually ease off. Goffy’s didn’t.

“He’d had a tough time in his own personal life and I think he related to a lot of the stuff I was going through.

He invited me up to Hartlepool for the weekend, we went out and had a few pints and I fell in love with the place.

“The people are so friendly, they really welcomed me. I’m up almost every weekend now, I class Hartlepool as my second home now and I’ve got friends there now.

“Goffy introduced me to his family, they treat me like one of them and invite me round for meals and all sorts. I’m comfortable here, I’m relaxed.

“I love North Wales, but if I was ever going to relocate then I’d be up here like a shot full-time.”