Roy was an oddball child who received little support from his mother, Sylvia. He left home at a young age to escape his hated stepfather Roger Goodwin and spent his working life catering in hotels and restaurants. By 1995 he was living by himself at the Crimea Street flats, which led to him working at Jim's Cafe in Rosamund Street. After a year there, Roy bought Alma Baldwin's majority share of the business and renamed it Roy's Rolls. Since 1999, he has managed the cafe in its current Victoria Street premises and lived in the flat above.
Eccentric, nerdish, and exceedingly honest, Roy didn't find love until his forties when he was introduced by Alma to Hayley Patterson. Though she was his perfect match, Roy was put off when Hayley confessed that she was a pre-op trans-woman. He quickly accepted her as a woman and they began a romance following Hayley's surgery in Amsterdam, marrying by deed poll in 1999 and legally in 2010, as a result of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which enables transgender people to marry in their new gender.
Unable to have children, Roy and Hayley fostered Fiz Brown in 2001 and over the years took several of the younger Coronation Street residents under their wing, including Becky Granger and, after Hayley's death, Carla Connor. Some still saw them as freaks; in 2003 Tracy Barlow pretended to have bedded Roy to win a bet and claimed that he was the father of her unborn child. Tracy let the Croppers raise the baby - who they named Patience - in exchange for money, but after the birth she reneged on the deal and revealed that Steve McDonald was the real father. Roy was driven to suicide by the ordeal, only being saved thanks to Hayley's intervention.
In 2013, Hayley was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and she passed away the following January. Slowly coming to terms with his wife's death, Roy found a willing companion in Cathy Matthews and was set to marry her in 2016, despite preferring to remain a widower. Cathy herself broke it off when she learned of Roy's true feelings.
Roy Cropper had an unhappy childhood. His father St. John Cropper, a French polisher, left him and his mother Sylvia when he was ten and didn't get in touch for eight years after emigrating to New Zealand. Young Roy took this badly. He hated his stepfather and eventually left home to fend for himself. He was the target for bullies due to his somewhat odd behaviour.
Roy had the look and manner of the archetypal “anorak”. His keen interest in the well-being of his fellow man was easily mistaken for nosiness, and he was almost evicted from Crimea Street for pestering Deirdre Rachid when he was worried about her welfare. He also displayed a caring attitude to young Jamie Armstrong and Liz McDonald after she was attacked by husband Jim. Jamie's mum, Tricia, also took advantage of Roy's helpful nature.
Roy had experience in the catering industry, including a stint in the kitchens of a four-star hotel. In summer 1997, he bought Alma Baldwin's share of Jim's Cafe for £35,000, partnering with Gail Platt. After Gail left, the cafe was renamed “Roy's Rolls” and Roy moved into the flat upstairs.
A major chapter opened in Roy's life when, in February 1998, he met Hayley Patterson, with whom he instantly found a rapport. Like him, she was shy and naive but they had a lot in common. However, after an intimate dinner, Hayley told him that she was a pre-operative transgender woman. Roy reacted badly, rejecting Hayley and becoming depressed. Alma intervened and Roy, missing his companion, decided he had been hasty. Their friendship continued until Hayley left to have genital reconstruction surgery in Amsterdam. Roy began missing her and tracked her down to the houseboat where she was living. Hayley was touched and decided to return to Weatherfield. They moved in together and Roy soon proposed to Hayley, who had to tearfully decline, due to her legal situation.
More problems arose when the other residents discovered Hayley's trans status. Roy was embarrassed but, following various arguments, pledged to stand by Hayley and proposed again. This time, she accepted. However, when they went to see a vicar, he refused to marry them, quoting the Bible. Roy was disappointed but determined. He met Jessica Lundy, the temporary curate for St. Paul's Church, and after some deliberation, she agreed to marry them. The church ceremony was due to take place on 21st April 1999, but was ruined by Les Battersby, who had tipped off the press. Roy and Hayley returned to the cafe, thinking the ceremony a washout, but, after a moment of inspiration from Roy, they were married in the cafe. During the reception, Hayley revealed to Roy she had changed her name by deed poll to Hayley Cropper.
Roy and Hayley's desire for a child led to them to become foster parents. They fostered Fiz Brown, who caused them various problems and got entangled in the problems of another troubled child, Wayne Hayes. They refused to let his volatile and domestically abusive stepfather, Alex Swinton, take him home. Alex was happy to let Wayne stay with the Croppers until they stopped paying him so Alex reported them to the police for abducting Wayne. They were caught and arrested but Wayne's mother, Sheila Hayes, cleared their names when she finally reported Alex to the police. Sheila and Wayne spent that Christmas with the Croppers. However, this left a black mark on the Croppers' record with Social Services and they were barred from fostering again.
In 2003, Tracy Barlow made a 1p bet with Bev Unwin that she could bed Roy, when Bev pointed him out as the one person she knew least likely to cheat on his wife. Tracy spent the next few weeks trying to charm Roy, but was put out to find that Bev was right. Irked at the idea there was a man she couldn't seduce, Tracy decided to play dirty and at Peter Barlow and Shelley Unwin's wedding reception (where Hayley wasn't present as she was caring for her sick Aunty Monica) spiked his drink and took him back to the Barlows' house where she undressed and pretended to sleep with him The next morning, Roy woke up and was horrified to think that he had sex with Tracy (which she confirmed to him), and felt even worse when Ken saw him leaving the house and then learnt that Tracy "slept" with him for a bet. The news soon spread but the residents sided with Roy as it was clear that Tracy had taken advantage of him. Tracy's parents threw her out as a result and when Hayley came home, Roy admitted his 'betrayal' but Hayley didn't believe he would do it especially as he didn't remember a thing. Roy, however, was certain and Tracy went to London, leaving Hayley with no choice but to believe that the two had sex. Despite this, Hayley pledged to stand by Roy but their marriage was clearly strained.
Soon after Tracy returned with the news that she was pregnant and intended to have an abortion. Roy begged her not to, but she refused. Hayley became angrier with Roy when he refused to move on from the assault and left him, intending to return to Amsterdam. Driven to despair, Roy decided to commit suicide however when Hayley only spoke to him to leave forwarding details but sensed something was wrong and came home to find that Roy had taken an overdose. After saving his life by forcing him to vomit up the pills, she told him that she had decided not to leave and would help him stop Tracy having an abortion but made no secret of the fact that she was still angry with him and their marriage was in jeopardy, although it did recover.
Roy and Hayley convinced Tracy to have the baby by offering her £20,000 in return for full custody after the birth. The agreement was soon in place, but Roy and Hayley felt the arrangement was unstable as there was nothing to stop Tracy disappearing with the cash and the baby. Feeling they had to get rights to the baby by any means necessary, they forced Tracy to marry Roy. The two forced themselves through the ceremony (as Roy and Hayley were not officially married), only for Roy to learn afterwards he would have been granted paternal rights anyway.
What Tracy hadn't told them was that Steve McDonald was the baby's actual father, having slept with him soon before the reception only for him to reject her when she told him the truth about the baby. Tracy gave birth to a little girl and gave her to the Croppers, who named her "Patience". However, Tracy began to regret the deal and wanted the baby back. On Steve and Karen McDonald's wedding day, she revealed everything to the congregation. Roy and Hayley took the baby home but were soon followed by Tracy and her family, who demanded the little girl back. Roy and Hayley hated the idea of giving Patience to Tracy but knew they'd have no chance if it went to court as Roy was not Patience's biological father. So, reluctantly Roy returned her to Tracy who renamed her, Amy Barlow. Roy and Tracy's marriage was subsequently annulled and Tracy, in an attempt to build bridges at Ken's suggestion, made Roy and Hayley godparents to Amy.
In 2005, Roy was bullied by builder Vince. Vince's arrival brought up many unpleasant memories for Roy, as he recounted to Hayley the physical and psychological torture he suffered. When he was in the cafe by himself, Vince came in and demanded a free meal. When Roy refused, Vince plunged Roy's face into the scalding hot fry-up and beat him with a spatula, and was only stopped by Charlie Stubbs, who warned Vince not to return to the Street.
In 2007, Hayley opted to keep from Roy the discovery that she had an adult son (born before she came out as transgender), and he was incensed when he eventually discovered the truth. Their marriage nearly ended because of his very high regard for absolute truth. However, with support from his employee Becky Granger (whose life was turned around by the Croppers' support), Roy realised the error of his ways, and made peace and went on a holiday with Hayley before she departed to do charity work in Africa. He had considered going too, but decided against it.
In 2008, Roy entered into a row with some violent men in the cafe, and after the police wrongly investigated Roy on his attempting to return a lost phone that one of the men had left in the cafe, the police got the idea that Roy and Ken were dealing drugs to the men, resulting in the arrest of him and Ken. But after the police experienced a confrontation from Becky, they were set free.
Hayley returned from Africa in November of that year, however she now felt unfulfilled by her life in Weatherfield and told Roy that she wanted to return as soon as possible. What Roy didn't know was that Hayley had developed feelings for a man called Olaf who was their project leader. However Hayley soon learned that Olaf, rather than being the perfect man of morals and values like she thought, was actually a womaniser. Becky also gave Hayley a telling-off over how badly she was treating Roy and as a result she chose to stay with her husband, much to his relief.
In 2009, Roy came across Underworld owner Tony Gordon as he was having a heart attack and managed to get him to Weatherfield General in time to save his life. As he kept vigil by his bedside, Roy was shocked when Tony (who believed he was going to die) confessed to being responsible for the murder of Liam Connor. Against all odds, Tony survived and attempted to initially buy Roy's silence and then tried to shrug off his confession as nothing more than ramblings. However this convinced Roy that Tony did murder Liam, although he had no evidence to take to the police and Hayley (who didn't believe Roy) told him to let the matter drop, but he couldn't. Roy's behaviour soon got to Tony and, losing his cool, he threatened to kill Roy too. This caused Hayley to believe Roy and the two went to the police. Although Tony was arrested, it was only for threatening Roy as there was no way to prove he had anything to do with Liam's death. Wanting revenge, Tony confronted Roy by the canal while he was watching for bats and pushed him into the water, as Roy couldn't swim. However Tony's conscience got the better of him and he helped Roy out of the water then turned himself into the police for Liam's murder.
In May 2010, Roy discussed the option of himself and Hayley having a legal marriage due to a change in the law to help their pension benefits (since their current "marriage" had no legal standing). Hayley suggested they had a full wedding, however Roy refused as he had trouble publicly declaring his feelings and didn't want to be lumbered with the expense. This upset Hayley, as she had wanted a big wedding with all the frills, and she began to tire of Roy's dithering and unromantic nature to the point where she decided that the pair needed to take a break and she left to temporarily live with Anna Windass until she could figure out where their relationship stood.
As Roy tried to busy himself, he seemingly made a new friend in Robbie Sloane who apparently shared Roy's love of trains. However what Roy didn't know was that Robbie was Tony Gordon's recently-released cellmate and had been sent to set things up for Tony's escape and return. Robbie told Roy of a railway gala in York to try and get him out of the way and then manoeuvred Hayley into Tony's hands. As he kept her prisoner, Roy heard what was happening and returned. Although Tony planned to kill Hayley as his revenge against Roy, former wife Carla Connor persuaded him to let her go. After Hayley was released and Tony was killed, Roy realised how close he came to losing the woman he loved and a few days later proposed to her properly, which she didn't hesitate in accepting.
Roy and Hayley officially married in August, but the ceremony was almost thwarted by a jealous Mary Taylor who sabotaged the train that Hayley was riding in. The carriage she was in came off the back of the train. Hayley, Fiz and Becky ended up finding a pump wagon and rode on it to the venue. An anxious Roy waited worrying, but Hayley did arrive and the pair were finally married.
In 2011, Roy's mum Sylvia Goodwin turned up demanding to know why he hadn't turned up for his stepfather's funeral. Sylvia later ended up moving in with Roy and Hayley, although she found it hard to swallow that Hayley was a transgender.
Roy and Hayley noticed that things were being mysteriously moved around the cafe in June 2013. Roy thought that there was a prankster coming in at night and became obsessed with catching them. Roy suspected that it was Beth Tinker's son, Craig, and put up security cameras to find out who it was. One night while out walking Eccles on the Red Rec, Deirdre Barlow was shocked to see Roy sleepwalking. After she woke him up he denied the possibility that he was responsible until he watched the CCTV camera footage which showed him moving the objects around. Roy and Hayley both went to have a health check.
Although Roy was given the all-clear, it was Hayley who did have something wrong with her. Dr. Akhtar told her that she had unusual liver functions and went for a ultrasound scan, which showed a blockage in her bile duct. Hayley had several more scans and ended up being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and was given a few months to live. Hayley only told her closest friends about her diagnosis although eventually everyone on the street found out. In October, Roy surprised Hayley by booking a trip to Blackpool, which they enjoyed immensely and shared a dance in the Tower Ballroom as Roy had learned how to ballroom dance especially for the occasion with the help of Norris Cole.
After their trip Hayley told Roy that she planned to kill herself if the cancer became too unbearable for her. Roy wouldn't accept her plan and the pair had a row which resulted in Hayley staying with Fiz and Tyrone Dobbs for a while. They soon reunited and Roy allowed Hayley to go through with her plan when the time came. By the start of 2014, Hayley had lost her appetite but did like to eat strawberries, with only a certain type pleasing the dying lady. Roy went to the Delicatessen to get some more for Hayley but was told by the Store Manager that they had ran out, but Roy found some. He was told that they were passed their sell-by-date, meaning they could not be sold, but Roy didn't care and ran away with the strawberries, however he clumsily fell over and lost his strawberries much to Hayley's disappointment. Unable to cope with the pain any more Hayley decided to take her life on 20th January - by drinking a lethal cocktail. That night Hayley emotionally died in Roy's arms. Her funeral took place eleven days later, but Roy struggled to cope throughout the following months.
In 2015, Roy shared an allotment with friend Sharif Nazir. Having thrown an unwanted plant on a nearby, overgrown allotment, the allotment's owner, Cathy Matthews yelled at the two men. Roy decided that he and Sharif would clean it up as an apology. Over the following weeks the pair struck up a friendship. After knowing each other for a while, Roy found out that Cathy was a hoarder. He told the embarrassed widow that he would help her clean her house up. At first it was impossible to get rid of a single newspaper without Cathy asking him to stop but after a while they managed to make some progress. Roy decided to take Cathy out for the day and asked Fiz, Tyrone and Chesney Brown to clean up part of the house. When Cathy returned home she was horrified to see the result and she broke down. Roy asked Cathy to come and stay with him for a while until she felt ready to return home.
Their relationship flourished over the following months and finally in September, they shared a kiss. In January 2016, Roy helped Cathy get rid of the remaining clutter in her house but while cleaning out her late husband, Alan's desk he was shocked to find love letters from Nessa Warner, Cathy's sister. Although Roy confronted Nessa about the letters, she begged Roy not to tell Cathy and asked for his help to dispose of them. As they walked into Cathy's living room, they saw a tearful Cathy at Alan's desk holding the letters. Cathy decided to call time on her relationship with Roy due to the fact that he knew about the affair but didn't tell her. Cathy later disposed of the letters by setting them on fire in a bin but she briefly left the room and by the time she returned, the flames had gone out of control. Roy and Nessa called round at the house to apologise, and as they spotted the blaze, Roy went inside to rescue a trapped Cathy as Nessa telephoned for the emergency services.
Later that month, Roy's Aunt Jean left a message with Cathy, asking Roy to get in touch with her regarding Sylvia. After a few days of putting this off, Roy eventually phoned Jean and learned that his mother had broken both wrists while line dancing. Although Roy's relationship with Sylvia had been strained ever since she took off after Hayley's diagnosis, he decided to do the right thing and booked an impromptu trip to Hastings.
In May 2016 Roy returned to Weatherfield. Roy was warmly welcomed back by Cathy and Anna but while speaking to Cathy he got upset by all the noise Cathy's nephew Alex Warner was making with his mates. Roy stormed up to the flat and was outraged to see spilled drink and pizza all over the carpet. Roy then forced them all out. At the end of the day Cathy and Alex packed up their belongings but just before they left, Roy returned say that he was sorry for his outburst and that they could stay in his flat.
Later that month, Roy and Cathy attended the wedding of Nick Tilsley and Carla Connor. Although the ceremony did take place, even after the revelation from Tracy Barlow that Carla had slept with her boyfriend Robert Preston and subsequently financially helped Robert buy Nick's Bistro, Nick had a change of heart at the reception and announced he would annul their marriage. A distressed Carla asked Roy to fetch his car. In the street, Cathy stopped him in his tracks and got down on one knee and asked him to marry her. Roy, who was worried about Carla simply replied "no" and ran off the fetch his vehicle. A shell-shocked Cathy told Alex about what happened, who suggested that they bought chocolates at the Corner Shop.
Just as they left the shop tragedy occurred when Carla accidentally ran Cathy over. She was flung into the air and sent flying into the wall of the Corner Shop. Cathy was rushed to Weatherfield General and admitted for observation and treatment, with Roy by her side. She was discharged from hospital a few days later, although somewhat on edge thinking Roy was going to break up with her as he hadn't spoken about what had occurred moments before the accident. As the couple went for a walk on the Red Rec, he accepted her proposal of marriage.
- In Episode 3889 (31st July 1995) Roy told Deirdre Rachid that his sister often leaves her children in his care. However, it was later established that Roy was an only child and he only discovered that he had a half-sister (and two half-brothers) in May 2013.
Creation and casting
The character Royston Cropper, played by David Neilson, was introduced in July 1995 as "a rather odd and scary loner" living in a block of flats near the long-running character Deirdre Rachid (Anne Kirkbride) . Actor David Neilson got the part on the recommendation of Coronation Street writer Stephen Mallatratt, a close friend of Neilson's who helped to "mould the character". According to Neilson, the character was initially only brought in for six episodes, but the role was extended and Roy was made into a regular character .
Described primarily as an "incidental character", Roy was not given any significant storylines until 1997. Behind the scenes, the soap was going through a period of change. A new producer, Brian Park, had been brought in to revitalise the show and attract younger viewers. Aside from multiple axings and introducing various dramatic storylines, Parks also decided to give some of the less prominent existing characters a much higher profile. Among them, Roy Cropper, who was brought to the forefront of the soap throughout 1997 and 1998, taking over a share in Gail Platt's cafe (changing its name to Roy's Rolls). This gave the character more screen time and, gradually, he was incorporated into the lives of other characters.
Becoming more prominent
Roy was initially perceived as a very different character than he went on to become. Neilson has commented that initially, Roy was "a bit like Norman Bates in the horror film Psycho". Misunderstood, he was almost evicted from his flats for pestering his neighbour Deirdre Rachid, though he was actually only showing concern for her welfare. He was summed up by the character Mike Baldwin as “a bit of a nutter, but harmless enough”. .
It has been suggested that Roy has Asperger's syndrome, due to his obsessive compulsive tendencies and because of his literal interpretations and miscomprehension of nuances and subtleties, though this has never been officially confirmed on-screen .
Described as "remarkably intelligent, but socially naïve", the character is a stereotypical portrayal of an "anorak"; A fan of buses and trains, dressed like a geek, in a beige anorak, scarf, woollen gloves and clutching a nylon shopping bag with a set of keys taped to the handle . Actor David Neilson has since revealed that his character's "infamous old shopping bag", complete with attached keys, were props that he introduced. The bag and keys belonged to Neilson's mother, who died shortly before he took on the role in 1995. He has commented, "My mum sadly passed away just before I started on the show and I wanted to carry something of hers. I also wanted to add my own props and develop the character. The bag carries nothing more than my script."
Despite Roy's initial "creepy" persona, viewers were eventually shown a different side to the character. He was converted from a creep to an eccentric;  A quiet and shy intellectual man, with few social skills and a penchant for trivial information, but underneath it all, a man with "a heart of gold". He's been described as compassionate, moral, sensitive and full of integrity; taking in waifs and strays and helping his neighbours whenever possible . Commenting on his character, Neilson has said, "Roy is absolutely his own person and hugely honourable. Some people think he's simple. He's not. He's a very complex man with hidden depths. And there's lots more to explore...There's something tragic about Roy. I think there is a big black cloud that follows him around and one day it is going to really dump on him."
Romance with Hayley
As the character became more prominent, producers decided to introduce a romantic interest for Roy. Hayley Patterson (Julie Hesmondhalgh) was introduced in 1998, and her relationship with Roy turned out to be one of the more controversial storylines in Coronation Street's history, as it was later revealed that Hayley was a pre-op transsexual, born a man but assuming the identity of a woman . In an article published by "Press for Change" (a political lobbying and educational organisation, which campaigns to achieve equal civil rights and liberties for all trans people in the UK), an advisor who helped studio writers at Granada Television with this storyline has given an account on its conceptualisation: "It was decided that Roy needed a girlfriend, but what kind of woman would go for Roy, or vice-versa? Ideally, she would have to be a female mirror image of himself. So the character started development and Hayley Patterson...was created. But then someone suggested something; what if she had a dark secret? What if she was transsexual!? Hayley being Harry, in her past life. After some argument and hard thinking, the idea stuck. It was a very controversial move for the long-running show... 'Corrie' had never gone this far."
Hayley's principle purpose was to boost ratings and to act as a "foil" for Roy, "to bring him out of himself a bit and show another side to the man". There were initial criticisms about the storyline and the character of Hayley from the transgender community in the UK, mainly because the actress who played Hayley was not a real trans person. However, as the storyline progressed, viewers and critics warmed to Roy and Hayley's romance. Hayley was finally shown to relay her secret to Roy during a candlelit meal in his cafe. Horrified, Roy rejected her, but after a period of reflection he eventually came around, resolving to remain friends with Hayley until she left the serial for Amsterdam to undergo a sex change . Although the character of Hayley was only meant to be short-term, she and her relationship with Roy were so well received by viewers, that the producers of Coronation Street decided to reintroduce her. On-screen, Roy traced Hayley and they reunited in a special set of episodes, shot on-location in The Netherlands; Hayley was persuaded to return to Weatherfield with Roy and rebuild their relationship.
Actor David Neilson has complimented the storyline, describing the writing as "absolutely beautiful", and Roy and Hayley are now considered to be one of Coronation Street's "classic" couples.
First and last lines
"Morning!" (First line, to Deirdre Rachid)
(To be completed)
List of addresses
|5 Crimea Street||19th July 1995 to February 1997|
|12a Rosamund Street||February 1997 to 21st February 1999|
|16a Victoria Street||21st February 1999 to present|
|Catering assistant||A four-star hotel||Unknown|
|Owner/co-owner||Roy's Rolls||5th February 1997 to present|
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