Royston Cropper, or Roy, is a character from the long-running UK television soap Coronation Street played by David Neilson.
He was first introduced to the soap as a minor, incidental character who was intended to be a psychotic villain.
If you know who Roy Cropper is, you’ll be laughing at the thought of this, and, indeed, wondering why the hell I’m talking about Roy Cropper.
All will become clear.
If you don’t know him, let me tell you he wears a beige anorak, carries a shopping bag with his keys taped to it and is a big fan of buses and trains.
He is, as another character, Mike Baldwin, summed up “a bit of a nutter, but harmless enough.”
When he stands up to defend his wife against the said Mike Baldwin, who makes insinuating remarks about her gender (she’s transgender in the programme), despite his shy, fumbling demeanor, Roy rightly chucks his pint (non-alcoholic, of course) across Baldwin’s smarmy face.
You cheer his bravery, chanting at the television screen:
Go. On. Roy. Go. On. Roy.
You realise you quite like Roy.
Indeed, the Norman Bates-inspired version didn’t last long before he was quickly turned into a socially awkward, but ultimately kind person.
He is a strange man, but a strange man you can relate to.
In one episode, a few regulars in the Rovers Return (the pub in the show) try to rally him into getting drunk for his stag but he doesn’t fancy it.
No one likes being made to look daft on a stag or hen do. The thought of being so drunk you end up chained to a lamppost or spewing into the toilet is never a good one.
Yeah, you think. I know that feeling, Roy. I wouldn’t fancy it either, mate.
And suddenly you’re thinking, hold on, Roy Cropper is actually a bit like me.
You’re now relating to a character intentionally invented to seem weird, with a beige anorak and an unusual awareness of the Weatherfield bus timetable.
It comes as a shock, but it’s there as clear as day: you recognise yourself in Roy.
Of course, this feeling you recognise an action, a thought, or a feeling in someone else isn’t exclusive to characters on Coronation Street.
I chose Roy Cropper to highlight the similarities we might feel with someone we believe so different from ourselves.
Yet it reminds us there is always someone out there who we are able to connect with, even in the most unlikely of places.
As a writer, a copywriter, or a creative thinker of any kind, you’ll no doubt spend a lot of time worrying about whether people are out there who will care about and connect with your ideas.
But you can find consolation in the fact no matter how weird or wonderful your idea might be, there is always someone out there who will empathise with you.
In a world where you are Roy Cropper and you spend most of your time receiving strange looks from the Mike Baldwins of this world, take comfort in the fact there will still be people who know just where you’re coming from.
If there’s one thing we can rely on in our delightfully diverse but ultimately troubling world, it’s that there are at least people (quite possibly a great many of them) who will read your work and think: yeah, they’re just like me, I can relate to this.
It’s with this sense of confidence our message will not necessarily fall on deaf ears – or no ears at all as we often worry – that we can steel ourselves to progress, to think and, to write with absolute creative freedom.