Globe columnist Peter Grant meets former Brookside and Emmerdale star John McArdle ahead of his visit to Chester Storyhouse.

John McArdle relishes his latest ‘challenge’ playing a dedicated family man.

"I am a dad, so I know a bit about kids growing up and turning into adults,’’ says the Liverpool-born star in his familiar accent.

John, who played Billy Corkhill in Brookside and most recently Rob Hale in Emmerdale, has been an actor for 37 years.

He has made a name for himself on television in a wide variety of roles including top dramas Prime Suspect, Merseybeat, Waterloo Road and The Bill.

The 68-year-old actor started his career at the Manchester Contact Theatre and moved on to a place close to his heart - the Everyman where he appeared in the world premiere of the musical Lennon.

"I played Bob Wooler, Allan Williams and the Maharishi. In fact more than 20 characters but none of the Beatles.

John, who as the subject of This is Your Life in 2003, also appeared at Chester’s Gateway Theatre where he played a crane driver in Alan Bleasdale’s Down the Dock Road.

"I was never seen. I was high up on stage and you could hear me but not see me.

"I used to bring a book with me. I’d be well home while everyone else in the cast was taking the curtain-call.’’

Now he’s returning to Chester and will definitely stay for the encores when he appears in the play Things I Know To be True by Andrew Bovell.

It was the power and uniqueness of the work that drew him to join the Frantic Assembly’s UK tour.

"I was thinking of taking some time off after Emmerdale which I left in August, but this came along and I wanted to do it because it is a wonderful piece of beautiful, touching writing and physical theatre.

"I felt it was challenging. And I love a challenge.

"I play Bob who runs the family and it’s how he deals with the revelations that emerge from four siblings struggling to define themselves beyond their parents’ expectations.

"He is central to keeping the family together with his wide Fran. There are some lovely funny moments in there and some real home-truths.

"I hope I do it justice.’’ John says the door is open to return to Emmerdale.

"That was a happy time.

"I have been lucky to have been involved with some great people and places in my career.’’

He says he loves TV and theatre in equal measure. about 50-50.

"You get plusses from both – television has its rewards and I still enjoy the buzz from a live audience.’’

John says he would love to work back in his native city he was last year in the Royal Court with ex Corrie star Pauline Fleming who is now in Calla the Musical.

He says he drives back to see his Huyton-based mum when he can.

"I live in Clitheroe so it’s always good for me to be working closer to home and I am looking forward to making my debut at the new Storyhouse.’’

Away from stage and screen, John is a member of Bafta and he attends a lot of screenings.

He is also, like good pal and ex Brookside co- star Sue Johnston, a passionate LFC fan.

John is hoping to do an ‘Evening With’ event in Wirral to talk about is biography 'You Never Said Goodbye'.

A deeply personal book he describes as a ‘love letter’ to his dad who left home when John was just 15.

Following his tour John will be filming in Spain for a movie called Missing Hyde to be released in 2018 John says he can’t ever see the day when he isn’t acting.

"It helps me think, it helps to get involved - I don’t play golf, so what else can I do?’’

'Things I know to Be True' from November 7 to November 11 at The Storyhouse Chester 0124 4409 113 or visit