Wigan borough actor and writer Dave Dutton has packed a lot into his eventful life: a working class background, a career as a reporter for local newspapers, radio presenting, theatre, comedy writing and 11 different roles in Coronation Street.
His latest book, The Thirty Bob Kid, is a touching memoir, an inspirational story which shows that everything is possible if you put your mind to it.
The idea for it came to Dave one evening he was talking to his friends about his time as a local news reporter.
The 72-year-old says: “We were just having a chat about those times and I realised how funny those stories were, so the idea for the book started to build up.
“The book opens looking back at my childhood in the 1950s and the strange moment when my mum and my dad met during the war.
“I talk about my family, my school days and, when I was nine, the shock of finding out I was illegitimate - I had no idea.”
The book is a kaleidoscope of colours and happy memories, a lot of it heavily influenced by Dave’s amazing ‘Mam’, but he doesn’t pretend their life was an easy journey: his mother’s unfulfilled love affair with his father is heartbreakingly sad as is her decline into dementia.
Dave says: “The Thirty Bob Kid covers everything: my eccentric mum, my grandad who fought in WWI and whom I always considered a hero, my career as an actor - an adventure I couldn’t have foreseen when I was just a kid.”
After an early career start in local journalism, Dave was seeking a career change.
He adds: “I wanted to write features but there were no job vacancies where I worked.
“I started reading a lot of books at my local library, especially plays and comedy.
“I think I always had acting in the back of my mind.
“I’ve always been inclined to do something like that, I started acting when I was really young, in school plays.
“Then, when I was on a radio programme on Radio Manchester, a woman that was on the panel gave me the number of her agent, she had just been on Coronation Street.
"She said ‘You should really do some comedy’.
“And my whole career as an actor built up from there, from small parts and TV commercials to Emmerdale and Coronation Street.”
Dave’s most prolific work has been with Coronation Street, where since 1991 he has had 11 different roles, working with Bill Tarmey in one of his first parts.
He has also worked with Martin Shaw and Niamh Cusack in Always and Everyone, with Robson Green in Reckless, and in Emmerdale, where he had four different roles.
Throughout his successful acting career, Dave never stopped writing and published 15 books.
Lanky Spoken Here, a comical tongue-in-cheek guide to the Lancashire dialect, is the book he holds closer to his heart, together with his memoir.
The book aims to be a fun guide to the dialect for people born outside the Red Rose county, as well as a way of preserving the dialect for the next generations of Lancastrians.
“I’ve written a lot of poetry in dialect,” explains Dave, “so I decided to write a comic guide to the Lancashire dialect and people really loved it, they still buy it now, after so many years since its publication.”
To young people wishing to follow the difficult path to become actors, Dave says: “Just give it a go.
“You can really become an actor at any age, whether you are eight or 80.
“I started in my early 30s and I am so glad I did it.
“Do some training, there are so many local drama studios around, learn from the experts.
“If you like writing for theatre, join amateur drama clubs or fringe companies, get some experience.
“I would say just give it a go.”
When Dave talks about his life, it feels as if everything has naturally fallen into the right place.
He says: “I wanted my memoir to hold a motivational message: I did something I never thought I could do, nothing is impossible if you try hard enough.”
The Thirty Bob Kid is available on Amazon (£8.99).