Accent on Wigan for Salford comedy

Philip McGinley as Willie in Hobson's Choice  at the Crucible' Photo by Robert Day
Philip McGinley as Willie in Hobson's Choice at the Crucible' Photo by Robert Day

TO his surprise, Philip McGinley finds he hails from the perfect place to be performing in Hobson’s Choice at the Crucible.

You might expect that to be Salford, the setting of Harold Brighouse’s classic comedy, but the man playing Will Mossop grew up in Golborne, near Wigan. And it is that part of Lancashire that voice experts have decided has the accent today closest to what people in Salford sounded like in Victorian times.

A piece of cake for McGinley, then? “It’s actually been tricky because you think you don’t need any dialect coaching but I couldn’t just turn up and do a Wigan accent from today,” he says. “But it’s been a real joy to look at my accent and investigate my roots.”

Will Mossop is the callow bootmaker claimed by Hobson’s daughter who sets up a rival business in defiance of her domineering father, marrying him into the bargain.

“Will’s a man who wants a simple life,” observes the actor.

“He’s got his job working in a shoe shop and gone straight down the cellar because he’s never been taught anything different.

“Then Maggie gives him the opportunity to be something else. The comedy comes from him being very obedient but when he get the chance to express himself he excels at it. The audience see him as their guy and want the underdog to succeed.”

It’s not the first time McGinley has had a stab at the part. “As a teenager in a drama festival in Wigan I did a scene from Hobson’s Choice with two girls,” he reveals. “I was a 13-year-old Will. Sadly we didn’t win.”

It didn’t stop the teenager pursuing a career in the business.

““I wanted to do theatre when I started out and ended up doing loads of TV parts and a very different type of acting,” says McGinley.

He’s been in both The Bill and Casualty twice, other long-running series like Heartbeat and Dalziel and Pascoe, one-off dramas such as Falling and Battlefield Britain but his most lasting impression on TV has been his year’s stint on Britain’s favourite soap which has left him with the epithet “Coronation Street actor”.

He played Tom Kerrigan, cousin of Liam Connor, and was originally down to appear in three episodes at the “loveable rogue’s” stag do but ended up staying in it for a year. Unlike Liam who was killed off, Tom’s departure was open-ended. “I hung around a bit after Liam’s death and was last seen going up a ginnel with another member of the family,” he laughs.

For the last two years he has done mostly theatre. “When I left Corrie I told my agent it might be a while for TV people to see me as another character,” he explains.

He has had a run in a play by Coronation Street writer Jonathan Harvey, Canary, playing a gay policeman and Herding Cats – an anti-Christmas show about urban flatmates– which he performed last year in Bath.

Now the London-based actor is working in Sheffield for the first time and has taken to the city and its environs, buying a mountain bike to get out and about.

Hobson’s Choice continues at the Crucible until June 25.