Bruce Jones

Over the years Bruce Jones has been involved in stand-up comedy and is best known for his role as Les Battersby in Coronation Street, but in an exclusive interview with Designer Magazine there was only one phrase that was fitting and that was "Man Of The People". A few minutes after the interview took place at the North West Comedy Awards Bruce said "That was the most open and honest Iíve talked to anyone" before asking us not to let him down. How could we ever let a man down that talks openly about his upbringing in Collyhurst, the guilt he feels about leaving the area and how his human outlook keeps him grounded. Read Bruce Jones most honest interview to date below in full

Q: The North West Comedy Awards are just coming to a close. How were they for you?
A: It's been a brilliant night. John's (Lock) done a great job organizing all this. It's up here in the North West and we're not used to it. But it's not in London, it's in Manchester - lets keep it here in Manchester. It's a great night for Manchester and let's hope it happens every year. When I see what's happened tonight Iím proud to be part of Manchester.

Q: As you said it's a Northwest event in Manchester. Manchester really is the place to be in terms of comedy, television and music
A: Manchester is the place to be for everything at the moment whether that's music or comedy. Even the Cockneys, the Midlanders and the Geordies are all coming to Manchester to work. You've seen it on the Awards screen there and you see Geordies, the Scottish and Cockneys. You've seen it all. And then you've got great Mancunian comics like Johnny Vegas and Dave Spikey. And the reason people want to come here to work is because if you make it in Manchester you'll make it anywhere else in the world. That's the beauty of the North.

Q: There's been talk of the BBC moving up more of its programming and production to Manchester. How do you feel about that?
A: Good luck to the BBC; they know where the talent is. You only have to look at Sammy (Chesney) in the Street. His drama school was on TV last night and you saw the talent that was there in that drama school. Those kids are going to make something of their life's being actors.

I've just been talking to Les Dawsonís wife and I grew up knowing Les Dawson when he played at the Cheshire Cheese on the Oldham Road. I told Les Dawson I wanted to be a comedian and an actor. Les Dawson told me when I was a kid "You go for it son. You're a Collyhurst lad. Don't let em put you down" and they've never put me down and I became an actor. When I had those words from Les Dawson he was playing in a pub and he knew he was going to be famous and he told me the same, if that's your dream you'll get your dream, and I got my dream.

Q: What advice would you offer to any kids out there?
A: If any kids are out there listening and they want to be a comedian, get down to these comedy clubs, put your name down and get up there and do your stuff. No-one's gonna boo yer, no-ones gonna knock yer. If it goes wrong, go back and re-write it. My first year in comedy was crap so we went back and wrote it and I was one of the Top Double Acts in the Country. For 3 years running, me and Eddie Clark were two of the top comedians in the country. Dave Spikey worked with us ye know!!!

Q: That's the thing. People think Dave Spikey's relatively knew on the circuit if they only discovered him after Phoenix Knights, but he's been honing his act for about 10 years now hasn't he?
A: I remember Dave when he was in Spikey and Mikey and we were in Clark and Jones. I tell you now Manchester is the up and coming place for comics, musicians. Whatever you want to be come to Manchester and you'll make it. Manchester will give you that chance.

Q: I guess that's why Corrie is the funniest soap around. You grew up in comedy, as did Sally Lindsay (Shelley) and various other cast members
A: There's nothing wrong with Eastenders, just put a smile on yer face. You know what I mean. My favourite soap is Emmerdale, but Iíll watch Eastenders cos my wife loves Eastenders. When I sit there and watch Eastenders I just think it wasn't broke before two years ago and I always think if it isn't broke, don't touch it.

You've also got Family Affairs, which is coming up now. My mate Jimmy who's here tonight is in Family Affairs and I grew up next to him and Iíve worked with him in so many shows together.

Q: When you look in the tabloids you see the glamorous aspects of Corrie (Nikki Sanderson, Bruno Langley). Bruce Jones is the man of the people. The peopleís actor. Would you agree?
A: I hate the word star and I hate the word celebrity. I am just Bruce Jones, a kid from Collyhurst who had a dream.

I've got a beautiful wife who I love more than anybody else in the world and I sometimes let her down by not being there cos of work. I have four beautiful kids and I have 10 brilliant grandchildren. Believe if it or not Iíd rather spend time with them than be here, but because The Street was nominated I was asked to come down by my boss and I'm here and enjoying it.

I'll never let my roots go. I'm a Manchester kid. I'm Welsh kid as well because I was brought up in Wales as well. I had the best of both worlds. My grandparents in Wales looked after me, I lived with them, and then came back to Manchester. You miss Manchester wherever you go in the world. You go anywhere in the world and it's "Where you from?" Manchester "Oh mate I used to live in Ancoats, I've been away 20 years and I wanna go back". You can go back and it's a different city now.

We could do the Olympics here, we had the Commonwealth, and we could do it all here. London is no longer the first option now. It always used to be, but now it's the 2nd option.

Q: I remember the days when you used to see old school punks hanging around the clock tower near the Arndale. Don't you think Manchester has become a bit yuppified?
A: No, I don't think that at all. It's a safe haven now in Manchester. I'm 52 and came from a great background of how to learn and how to live and you earned money, saved money and always looked after your family. That's gone today whether you live in Altrincham, Manchester or wherever you live in the world. You can no longer leave your front door open.

We had great comedians like Les Dawson come from where I lived. Great footballers came from where I lived. We never got in any trouble. I never got in trouble with the police. I never took any drugs. And I enjoyed my life. I tell kids that. If you just enjoy your life, you'll enjoy a great life. I was lucky to walk out of Collyhurst as a young lad and I do so much charity work to give something back.

Q: As you said you came from Collyhurst, went though the tough times and you had a loving wife to support you when times were rough. There are people that are growing up now who can't afford to follow their dream, let alone even by a house in the area they grew up in.
A: That's wrong. This government should bring out starter packs with £60,000 tops for first time buyers because first time buyers should have a chance on the market. They've got to give them kids a starter chance and let them get a foothold in the household, let em buy a house.

I've just moved and Iíve broke my neck on what I just bought. The cheapest house where I live is £600,000 - 900,000. Ok my lifestyle gives me that and I can buy that, but then I go home and see my brothers and my sisters and they're living in 3 up / 2 down. It's like I was born in these and look where I am now. I feel so guilty sometimes. I have a problem with my guilt sometimes over the way Iím living. My wife is the first to say I have a big guilt problem and it's cos I'm from a poor background that I think how can I afford this. I know Iíve worked for it, but I have friends who can't afford to live where Iím living. When I go to their houses Iím more at home in their houses than I am in mine, because that's where I come from. I grew up having a cup of tea on my lap.

Q: How is it when you come back from the suburbs and have a night in Manchester?
A: I come to Manchester and drink all the time in Manchester. Everyone loves Les. I don't get any problems in Manchester. But I never forget that 2 miles from where we are now...I could walk from where we're sat now, I could work up Oldham Street and 5 minutes Iíd be where I grew up in Collyhurst and Moston.

Q: As well as growing up in Collyhurst I guess there's an age gap between my generation (26yrs old), your generation and the younger generation. My generation grew up thinking when Labour came in we'd have this equal society
A: There are 2 things you never do - talk about politics and religion. When you start talking that you're in dire trouble. Who gives a toss about politicians and who gives a toss about religion? Politics and religion are not topics of conversation in my world. I have my beliefs and people have theirs. But I don't believe in all the death that we have going on in this world. I don't believe in Iraq and the stuff that's going on in this world. Love and let live. Everybody's a human being whether you're red, black or white and no one should take that away from you. It's you the human being that counts, not the colour of your skin, not your religion or your politics. If someone comes up to me with politics and religion I walk away. If the rest of the world saw what I saw or what I see then it would be a better place.

Q: You grew up in Collyhurst and as many people would listen to you in your position as they would a politician?
A: Well I'm telling the truth. I don't see anything but a human being. I wish thousands of other people would see that. Don't look at the colour of the human being, look at the person and let the person talk to you. If that man's a good human being, he's a friend of mine.

Q: With most actors we wouldn't be able to talk to them like this. I think that's why so many people admire Bruce Jones, he's just a normal guy
A: I hope I am just a normal guy. That's all Iím trying to be. I am not a superstar; Iím a human being who got his dream to be an actor.

Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest

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