The colorful life of Neil Morrissey, from children’s home to children’s TV favorite

He’s back on our screens tonight in the new series of The Good Karma Hotel, but Neil Morrissey has been a familiar face on TV for over 30 years.

From his breakthrough role in Men Behaving Badly to entertaining millions of children with his vocal talents as Bob The Builder, he’s been a popular star since his on-screen debut in Boon.

An avid Staffordshire champion, Neil has also branched out into running pubs in his home county in recent years.

Here we take a look at some of Stafford-born Neil’s biggest roles and other projects.


Actor Neil Morrissey, pictured here with The Sentinel’s Richard Bramwell, visited The Sentinel offices to film a BBC documentary.

Neil Anthony Morrissey was born July 4, 1962 in Stafford and was one of four brothers. His parents were both psychiatric nurses who worked long hours and the boys tended to fend for themselves.

After an incident where Neil and his older brother Stephen, who died of a drug overdose in 1997, stole candy and stationery from a store, they found themselves in court, aged 10 and 12 only. A magistrate issued a care order and the couple were sent to separated children’s homes – Neil spending six years at Penkhull Children’s Home from 1974.

In 2011, he spoke about his experiences for a two-part BBC documentary, Neil Morrissey: Care Home Kid, which saw him calling into The Sentinel offices and rummaging through the archives, as he tried to figure out why he had been separated from his family.

He attended Thistley Hough High School – now Thistley Hough Academy – in Penkhull, where he discovered his love of acting through a teacher who spotted his natural abilities, then became a member of Stoke Schools Theatre, Stoke Repertory Theater and from the Stoke Original Theatre. .

At 17 he was taken in by his friend’s parents for two years, and after his A-levels at Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College he landed a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with an offer unconditional.

Early acting career

He left Guildhall School at the start of his third year and soon began landing roles in film, theater and television productions.

Early roles included a role on The Bounty, which also starred Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins and Laurence Olivier, and an appearance on crime show Juliet Bravo.

His first real taste of fame came when he joined the cast of the ITV series Boon – which revolved around the life of a former firefighter called Ken Boon, played by Michael Elphick – in its second series, playing the biker stupid Rocky.

men behave badly

Martin Clunes Neil Morrissey Leslie Ash and Caroline Quentin seated on a sofa in a publicity photo for the TV show Men Behaving Badly
Martin Clunes, Neil Morrissey, Leslie Ash and Caroline Quentin seated on a sofa in a publicity photo for the television program Men Behaving Badly.

Neil has appeared on a host of well-known television programs over the years including Waterloo Road, The Syndicate, Skins, Death in Paradise, Grantchester and Midsomer Murders. And he even featured in an episode of the much-loved Australian soap opera Neighbors in 2007 as a vicar.

But he really made a name for himself as Tony in the classic 1990s comedy Men Behaving Badly, which he joined in its second series after the departure of Harry Enfield.

Viewers were hooked when record stand owner Tony moved in with Gary, played by Martin Clunes, and developed a huge crush on Leslie Ash’s Deborah, who lived in the upstairs apartment.

The first two series aired on ITV before the show moved to BBC1 for four more series.

It’s become something of a cult favorite and all five series starring Neil are currently available on Netflix.

bob the builder

Neil Morrissey and Bob the Builder pose for photos during the UK Premiere of Bob The Builder - Built To Be Wild at Odeon West End in Leicester Square on June 2, 2006 in London, England
Neil Morrissey and Bob the Builder pose for pictures at the UK premiere of Bob The Builder – Built To Be Wild at the Odeon West End, Leicester Square on June 2, 2006 in London.

For people of a certain age, Neil will always be the voice of Bob The Builder.

The always effective Bob – with his ‘Can we fix it? Yes we can!’ catchphrase – entertained children and parents from 1999 to 2011 with Neil on board, before being revived in 2014 with a new cast.

He also brought Neil two gold number one singles with Can We Fix It in 2000 and a cover of Lou Bega’s Mambo Number 5 in 2001.

There are nine series currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer if you want to catch up with Bob, Wendy, Lofty, Roley and the gang.

Bob isn’t the only stop-motion Neil has been involved in – he also narrated 13 episodes of The Morph Files in 1996.

Course of action

Neil played dodgy detective Nigel Morton in the first three series of the wildly popular Line of Duty, written by Jed Mercurio, who grew up in Staffordshire.

Close friend of DCI Anthony Gates, played by Lennie James, Morton was reportedly handicapped by a leg injury prior to the events of the first series.

The corrupt cop was last seen in retirement, gardening at home, although Neil joked that he wanted the show to treat his character with appropriate “closure”.

Speaking on This Morning, he said: “I keep telling Jed Mercurio I’m alive and well. I’m just saying, ‘Just take me back and shoot me in the face.’ does all the stars, doesn’t it?

“Erase me! So it’s closing time, isn’t it?

Good Karma Hospital

His current role is in The Good Karma Hotel, which returns for season four tonight (Sunday January 23) on ITV.

Set in southern India, the show revolves around an underfunded and overworked field hospital run by an eccentric English expat, Dr Lydia Fonseca, played by Amanda Redman, whose partner Greg McConnell is played by Neil Morrissey.

The fourth season is set to open with a highly contagious and deadly virus spreading through a rural village near the hospital.

The life of publican and beer lover

Neil Morrissey, Plume of Feathers licensee, pictured in 2017

Alongside his acting work, Neil is also a true beer expert, with his own beer business and a popular pub named after him.

He launched The Plume of Feathers, in Barlaston, with business partner Richard Slingsby in 2015, having set up the Neil Morrissey Real Ale Company the year before.

They opened their second business, the Old Bramshall Inn, in Uttoxeter, in 2018, but it closed in March 2020 and has since changed hands and reopened under new management.

Private life

The 2016 Sentinel Our Heroes Awards, featuring (left to right) Jack Butland, Joe Clarke, Wendy Turner, Gordon Banks and Neil Morrissey.
The 2016 Sentinel Our Heroes Awards, featuring (left to right) Jack Butland, Joe Clarke, Wendy Turner, Gordon Banks and Neil Morrissey.

Neil has long been a champion in his home county and he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Staffordshire in 2006 to accompany his MBE.

He recorded a video last year for Enjoy Staffordshire’s Love Letters to Staffordshire campaign, where he mentions Spitfire inventor Reginald Mitchell, singer Robbie Williams, Trentham Gardens, Cannock Chase and many other things he can be proud.

He married actress Amanda Noar in 1987 after meeting her when she appeared on an episode of Boon. Their son was born in 1989, before divorcing in 1991.

He had a high-profile affair with Amanda Holden in 2000 while she was married to TV presenter and comedian Les Dennis, and also had a relationship with Rachel Weisz, who is now married to James Bond actor Daniel Craig. , after their appearance together in My Summer. With Des in 1998.

He is now in a long-term relationship with lawyer Emma Killick, and they live together in London.

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