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Ian cashes in on fame and fortune; Former Casualty actor Ian Kelsey has never looked back since chucking in life as a joiner, says PAUL ENGLISH.

Byline: PAUL ENGLISH

DOWN TO EARTH, BBC1, Sunday, 8.00pm

SUPPOSEDLY if you can afford something, there's no pleasure in buying it - and Ian Kelsey knows that only too well.

The joiner-turned-actor spent his labouring days longing for the time he could do more than merely make ends meet.

But when his fortunes changed and he started to make serious money, he realised the cash he had craved had lost its value.

Rather than helping him stabilise his life, he says it made him mad.

The sturdy actor, who rose to fame playing the ultimately heroic Dave Glover in Emmerdale, had gone from earning a labourer's wages to having more money than he knew what to do with.

"You go silly with it at first," he admits. "It took a lot of getting used to, and I know I've been silly.

"I think you go a bit mad when you get all that money. You've got so much and so little time to spend it because you're working every hour. I suppose it's an extreme form of retail therapy."

Fair enough. We're all prone to splashing out on a new shirt or an impulse- buy CD from time to time. It helps take the sting out of life when you're feeling that wee bit hacked off for no reason.

It's an acceptable form of alternative therapy. So long as we're not self- medicating every week, it's harmless.

More often than not, the more you have the more you spend. And so it was for Mr Kelsey, as the cash piled in.

"I think you go mad when you get that kind of money," he recalls. "After being skint for years you just go a bit daft. It's the only way to really relieve your stress.

"With me it was cars. I had so many of them - six at one point, if I remember correctly.

"I started off with a Ford Anglia, then I had three top-of-the-range BMWs, a Range Rover and a classic heritage shell MG roadster. And cars just lose money as soon as you buy them."

It took a shopping trip back home in Yorkshire with an old pal from his pre- acting days to drive the message home.

"I was out clothes-shopping with my mate, and we decided to go away for the weekend instead of going home. I didn't have any socks with me, so I had to buy some - and they cost me pounds 15.

"That's just nuts. I mean, folk would pay 25 grand for a BMW, but pounds 15 for a pair of socks? It's ridiculous.

"My mate asked me: `When did you stop looking at the price on these things?'

"When someone says something like that, it brings you down to earth."

For all his wealth, Ian is a remarkably ordinary bloke. With his Yorkshire drawl and matter- of-fact delivery you can still picture him on the building site, or fitting trains in York.

Fame doesn't seem to have gone to his head, despite often being spotted out on the town with mates Mark Lamarr and Michael Grecco.

That down-to-earth approach is largely down to the fact he has kept up with his old mates too.

"I can't really compare the kind of moans I have with those of my mate, who's a brickie's labourer.

"If I was to come off the set and go on and on about being pissed off to the likes of him, then I'd be due a slap in the face really."

But Ian didn't fall into acting - far from it. A combination of boredom and wood allergies led him into the noble profession, in which the most challenging thing he has to build these days is his profile.

"I got so bored doing the work at the railways, me and my mate started going to an amateur theatre group in York.

We replied to an ad asking for men to join in the cast of Half A Sixpence. So we went down, got in and got parts."

A change of direction took Ian into joinery, where he spent time building conservatories.

An allergy to cedar wood meant he'd have to wear a mask if he wanted to continue in the trade.

Ian explains: "I decided to audition for Guildford School of Acting. It was just an idea - but it happened."

Not half. After Emmerdale, he went on to play Dr Patrick Spiller in Casualty, before being killed off. Rather than build immediately on his profile, Ian surprised critics by taking a year out.

"Stuff came in after Casualty I'd never been offered before, but I turned it down because I felt it wasn't right. Then Down to Earth came in and I realised I had made the right decision."

This week viewers will see him as Matt Brewer, cousin of Brian Addis (Warren Clarke) in BBC1's escape- to-the-countryside drama Down To Earth, with Pauline Quirke.

Ian stars alongside Angela Griffin, who plays his wife, Frankie. Despite rumours, he insists there never has been anything between the two.

"Angela's a laugh and everyone asks if something has been going on. I have no idea where that came from.

"This is my first sniff at proper drama and it's great. When I was driving down to film in Devon in the mornings in the pitch black, the sun would be just coming up over the countryside when I got there.

"It made me realise just how lucky I was to be working on a gig like this."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 1, 2003
Words:919
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