It’s a Fine Time to return to Coronation Street

Peter Barlow with Clelland. Photo: ITV/Joseph Scanlon
Peter Barlow with Clelland. Photo: ITV/Joseph Scanlon

An actor who has returned to Coronation Street almost 30 years after his first role in the soap is relishing his new part as a streetwise prisoner.

Ian Crossley – stage name Fine Time Fontayne – first appeared as Peter Barlow’s new cellmate Clelland (first name Eugene) in last Monday’s episode of Coronation Street

Mr Crossley was previously on the show in 1985 as Henry Wakefield, Hilda Ogden’s lodger.

Mr Crossley lived in Fishtoft for two-and-a-half years in the 1970s, with his family owning the Woad Man Inn. His proud mum still lives in Fishtoft.

He studied teaching at the Sam Newsom Centre and has often returned to the town to perform on stage.

He described his new role as ‘terrifying’ at first – with the soap very different to how it was in the 1980s.

He said: “What you’re basically doing is you’re walking into the unknown. You don’t know the actors, you don’t know the director and I didn’t know the new regime so I learned my lines and when I arrived I met people, shook hands and went on set.

“Once you get to know each other though it’s OK. Chris Gascoigne is fantastic, a very, very nice man. He was easy to work with and has a theatre background so we were able to connect on that.”

He added that some of the older cast members did remember him and welcomed him back.

An ITV spokesman told The Standard Mr Crossley is contracted for a few months and Fine Time himself thinks Cllelland will be on screen until at least November.

He said: “I know I’m filming until the end of August but I live in hope.”

In last Monday’s episode, it was revealed that Clelland and knows his way around prison as a regular behind bars and that he is awaiting his trial.

Mr Crossley said he doesn’t know much about his new character’s storyline and isn’t told very much in advance but he said Clelland is ‘not a fool’.

“He’s a recidivist, he’s been in and out of prison all his life. He’s a guy who’s been around the block and in that he carries, from Peter’s point of view, a lot of information that’ll help,” he said.

“He’s not a softie, I think he’s got integrity. I think he’s survived in the nick for however long and he knows how to do prison, how to get by. He’s not somebody who’s picked on in prison. Clelland knows the rules, who to avoid, who to talk to, what to say and not to say.”

In last Monday’s episode, Clelland appeared wearing a top with Boston written across it.

Mr Crossley said it was ‘absolute serendipity’, explaining: “We went to wardrobe the first day and the first shirt they put on it said Boston, and I said ‘my mum will love this, because she lives there’.”

Mr Crossley was born in South Wombell. His family moved here following an accident involving his father and owned the Woad Farm Inn as well as another in Sheffield.

He took the name Fine Time Fontayne while on the circuit at a local folk club in South Yorkshire and he later registered under that name with Equity.

He said his best memories of living in Boston were studying at Shodfriars Hall and visiting a school run by a husband and wife partnership, who encouraged all their children to learn an instrument.

He said a group of people, including those at the school, would travel every Saturday to play in the Tattershall Bridge Orchestra.

Mother Gladys Crossley told The Standard she was delighted by her son’s prime time TV role.

She said: “I’m really proud, any mother would be. I watch everything he does and I go to all his pantomimes.

“Every year I go to Oldham, book a hotel and go to see him for one night.”

She said Ian gets along with everybody he meets, adding: “He’s very well known in Boston. I went out last night for a drink and ever so many people came up to me and say they saw him on Monday night.

“He’s been in about five films, going to the cinema in Boston to see him on the screen is really amazing.”

Since taking to the acting circuit Mr Crossley has performed in numerous stage shows and delighted in telling the Standard reporter that the only soap he hadn’t been on was Brookside before it shut down.

His television credits include The Bill, Crossroads, Doctors and Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, while he has also appeared in films Butterfly Kiss and Girls Night.