Belfast Telegraph

Former Emmerdale star Bill Ward talks murder mysteries and soap deaths

The actor is appearing at the Grand Opera House in Belfast all this week.

Actor Bill Ward is starring in the stage adaptation of Peter James' Not Dead Enough at the Grand Opera House, Belfast this week alongside Irish star Laura Whitmore.

The play has been described as a Broadchurch-style murder mystery that will leave audiences guessing right until the end and has been getting rave reviews as it finishes up its current UK tour in the city.

And as someone who has experienced his fair share of deaths in the land of soap - having been killed off in both Coronation Street and Emmerdale - Bill says the play is a fantastic ride for the audience.

Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about Not Dead Enough?

It's essentially a murder mystery, so we start with a murder and throughout the play we try and work out who did it and why, and also how. There's lots of twists and turns in terms of who it might be - there's multiple suspects.

At the end there's quite a surprising twist...

Have you had much feedback from audiences and what has their reaction been?

I took over the role from Shane Richie, so I was able to watch the play before I became a part of it. I've had the experience from the audience's perspective and it was so much fun. I could hear people trying to work it out all the way through.

Ideally what we are looking for is to engage the audience. They are on a journey with Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, who I play, and Laura Whitmore's character Cleo Morey as they try and solve this murder together.

As an audience member you are going with them, and it's very cleverly put together and it's very well written.

Peter James is very good at this kind of thing - I've read a couple of his books and they are very fast-moving plots and it's great fun to do.

How has it been working with Laura Whitmore - she's best known for her presenting work, so it's interesting to see her do something different

She is fabulous and a very good actor. She's better known for her presenting work but she has done a lot of great acting work in her career.

The producers of the play have been looking to get her on board with this for a while now and she's terrific - very committed. I've thoroughly enjoyed working with her.

Bill Ward and Laura Whitmore star in Not Dead Enough by Peter James. Photo by Helen Maybanks 089.jpg
Bill Ward and Laura Whitmore star in Not Dead Enough by Peter James

You're well-known for playing Charlie Stubbs in Coronation Street and James Barton in Emmerdale - how are you finding life after soap?

I'm a jobbing actor so I'm taking whatever work comes my way. What's been nice is for me to be able to work and be at home at the same time, that's very rare in my line of work.

My other half is a theatre actress, and for about six months after I left Emmerdale I was the one looking after things at home while she worked, which is only fair because while I was filming in Leeds for three years she was looking after our lot.

You have the unusual accolade of getting two iconic soap deaths - are you proud of that achievement?

Yes! I enjoyed being killed off on both soaps because they really do go to town on it. It's brilliant. Both jobs were great fun for me in very different ways.

The James Barton exit was great fun to shoot, because they chucked the kitchen sink at it and we were filming on a proper film set just outside of London. We were filming next to the Millennium Falcon on the Star Wars set at one point.

JAMES_BARTON.jpg
Bill Ward as James Barton in Emmerdale (ITV)

What was it like to be involved in the huge stunt?

We had a road build for us with stunt men and women crashing cars at 60mph - it was unbelievable.

You live for that kind of stuff from an acting point of view, it's really high stakes drama and it's great fun to shoot.

I really took my hat off to the producers and the writers, because it was a really brave thing to execute. It was so ambitious and I really think they pulled it off.

Have you seen much of Belfast since you have been here?

I have a bit of time off on Friday so I'm going to try and get out and see as much of Belfast as I can.

I'm definitely going to do one of those sight-seeing bus tours and hopefully the Titanic Quarter. I did manage to get to the Ulster museum the other day which was great.

Belfast is such a vibrant city and it's been fun to be here. It's a great place to finish off the tour.

  • Not Dead Enough runs at the Grand Opera House until Saturday, July 1.

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