I refused Corrie out of loyalty to Dublin
FAIR CITY star Jim Bartley has revealed that he could have swapped Carrigstown for Coronation Street had he not been so attached to Ireland.
The 65-year-old TV veteran, famous for his role as Bela Doyle in Fair City, admitted that he could have become a regular hit on the Manchester soap had he taken up producers on their offer.
In an interview with the RTE Guide, Jim explained that he turned down the role of rag-and-bone merchant Mike in 1973 because he didn't want to leave Dublin.
"I'm very much a homebird, I love this country and I love Dublin," Jim said. "I was by myself over there in Manchester and it was a lonely time.
Jim also revealed that the RTE series helped him get back on his feet following the death of his son Emmet.
Emmet was almost nine when he died from an asthma attack in 1987 and Jim's grief saw him turn to alcohol.
"I remember waking up at home, alone and I'd roar in despair," Jim said.
"I'd roar because of the emptiness. I'd roar because the energy that was Emmet was gone forever.
"I'd just let out this cry of despair which I believe was good for me because if you hold it in God knows how you'll end up.
"I hit the bottle -- it wasn't so bad that I needed to be put into the Rutland Centre, but I was drinking too much.
"Then in 1989, Fair City came along and in 1990 Niall Matthews, the producer, asked whether I'd like play this character called Bela.
"As soon as I heard what he was like -- a rogue who likes a bit of skirt -- I said I'd do it. "
And it's not surprising that he has no intention of retiring, seeing as he found solace in performing.
"Actors never retire, they just fade away or die," Jim said.
Emmet's mum, Barbara Brennan, was also no stranger to the spotlight -- Jim met her on RTE soap Tolka Row.
Although the couple divorced in 1984, the loss of their son made them vow to raise their daughter Eva as best they could. Eva recently appeared in the Abbey Theatre and teaches drama.
"Emmet's passing made us look at life again and agree that there could be no bitterness, no bickering because we lost a precious life in our lives," Jim said.
"So all the arguments were not on the agenda after that.
"We wanted to make sure that Eva grew up strong and happy which we she did, thank God."
While Jim never remarried, he has lived with partner Helen Cahill for over 20 years.