BRADFORD-BORN actor David Roper has worked on stage, screen and radio for nearly 50 years.

He got his break in popular1970s sitcom The Cuckoo Waltz, starring opposite Diane Keen and Lewis Collins, and later went on to play Geoff Barnes in EastEnders.

He has appeared in television dramas such as Netflix global hit The Crown, Heartbeat, Emmerdale, The Royal, Taggart, New Tricks and Coronation Street.

He stars in an upcoming episode of BBC1 daytime medical drama Doctors due for broadcast this month. His film credits include The Damned United and his theatrical work includes Uk tours of the National Theatre’s An Inspector Calls directed by Stephen Daldry.

David attended Bradford Grammar School and initially worked for an accountancy firm in the city centre until he decided to switch professions and train as an actor.

In the 1960s he was in amateur productions at the Bradford Civic, and was often singled out for praise by T&A theatre critic the late Peter Holdsworth, who later took credit for “discovering” him. JB Priestley, founder of the Civic theatre, watched David in a 40th anniversary production of his play When We Are Married.

David’s book An Actor’s Life For Me (available on Kindle and from Amazon) looks back on his career, and the reality of life for a working actor.

Comprised of a collection of columns he wrote for the Brighton Argus, (he now lives on the Sussex coast), it’s a witty, engaging and occasionally poignant look at the ups, downs and daily life of a jobbing acto. He writes of the commute to London for auditions, heading out on on tour and staying in an array of digs, getting to know a new cast, saying goodbye to the cast who have become friends at the end of a long theatre run, inevitable spells of unemployment, lucrative voice-overs, panto, location filming, and the frustration of actors when they see someone else in a TV or film role that they auditioned for.

He also writes of the domestic life and offers quirky musings of an actor during the ‘between jobs’ periods - and he captures a lost age of television, describing in colourful detail his days of working on dramas such as Granada TV’s Crown Court when “cameras were the size of smart cars, gliding around the studio floor like Daleks.

“You would be confronted by four cameramen swinging their lumbering machines around, aiming and firing like rear gunners,” he recalls.

Here David gives us a personal insight into the impact of the coronavirus crisis on his profession and his own life as a working actor.

“A football match, a cricket match, even snooker at The Crucible in Sheffield could happily happen in isolation. Nobody else really needs to be there to watch.

Neither is a crowd necessary to witness a tennis match, a rugby match or even, God preserve us, a darts match.

By the way, it beats me why anybody could be bothered to turn up in the first place to watch a couple of overweight blokes, throwing bits of metal at a circular board that is several hundred yards away and is out of focus anyway, due to the amount of Foster’s they’ve drunk... Apologies to any darts fans out there.

But I digress. The point is that all those pursuits need nothing more than the participants themselves to fulfil their raison d’etre and obtain a result.

However, a theatrical performance not only craves an audience to witness it, but is actually incomplete without one.

You see, any audience is not simply a collection of people watching - a crowd of witnesses, if you like - but is actually an integral part of the whole experience that embraces actors and audience alike.

In a comedy play, for instance, the presence of an audience is needed to punctuate the performance with laughter (hopefully), while in a serious drama it is necessary in contributing to the underlying tension. Hence, it is crucial that any theatrical performance must have both actors and audience.

So, on top of the social distancing that forbids large gatherings and along with all the other associated restrictions, the reason why actors have been so affected by Covid-19 lies, therefore, in the very nature of theatrical performance itself.

Without an audience, any such performance is simply not able to exist, and neither are we actors able to do the job we love.

Having established that work has completely dried up, what effect has all that had on the acting profession as a whole? In other words, what do we actors do with ourselves under lockdown?

The optimistic answer is that we sit in front of the telly, watch repeats of our old programmes and coin in fees from our agents (less 12.5 per cent plus VAT in commission, of course, but what the hell, it’s something towards the groceries!).

The pessimistic answer is that we sit in front of the telly, watch repeats of everybody else’s old programmes and turn a fetching shade of envious green every time a character pops up for which we got turned down.

Talking of which, the TV and film industries have all packed in production, as you will know - witness the scaling down to two or three episodes a week of the various soaps in order to keep you interested for as long as possible, and the fact that Netflix is pushing more episodes of Peaky Blinders than you could shake a stick at.

What that means for us thespians worldwide is that we are more dependent on Universal Credit than Universal Studios. Gissa job!”