Neville Buswell

Neville Buswell

Neville Buswell. Obituary in “The Guardian” in 2019.

The actor Neville Buswell, who has died aged 76, became a household name for his 10-year run in Coronation Street as Ray Langton, a former borstal boy who learned to stay on the right side of the law and chased a string of women. Ray married Deirdre Hunt (played by Anne Kirkbride) and they had a daughter, Tracy, but he later walked out on his family for a new life in the Netherlands.

Buswell first trod the famous TV cobbles during a short run in 1966, when Ray tried to rape Lucille Hewitt, and stole money from the Barlow family and a bottle of whisky from the Rovers Return pub. “At Rada, I tended to play all the good boys,” the actor said, “but the script called for this character who was almost unbelievably unpleasant. He seemed to be downright evil.”

Ray softened when Buswell returned in 1968. He became an apprentice in Len Fairclough’s building firm and later his business partner. However, women were Ray’s weakness. He had an affair with the married Audrey Fleming that ended when he was temporarily paralysed following a coach crash. Then, Sandra Butler called off her engagement to Ray on learning he was still seeing Audrey. In 1975, after a string of relationships, he married Deirdre, who was the builder’s yard secretary.

When Buswell told the soap’s producer, Bill Podmore, three years later that he wanted to leave the show imminently, Ray was launched into an affair with Janice Stubbs, a waiter at Dawson’s cafe. The relationship ended after Deirdre found out and, in an attempt to save their marriage, Ray begged her to leave the street with him to start afresh in Amsterdam. At the last minute, Deirdre decided against it and Ray left alone.

Buswell’s sudden announcement threw the production team into disarray. Plans to write out Kirkbride as well were ditched when Buswell pleaded for her to be kept on and they saw the potential storylines for a single mother.

The actor also baffled the press and public with his decision to leave stardom behind and move to the US. He had married Suzanne Huckle in 1969 and they decided to follow her brother David, who had started a new life in Nevada.Advertisement

Although Buswell said he struggled to cope with the pressures of being a celebrity, he initially had ideas of getting acting work in Los Angeles. Podmore gave him VHS tapes to help him secure auditions – but they were not compatible with American video recorders.

Instead, Buswell settled in Las Vegas and became a poker dealer at the Barbary Coast casino, rising to become a department manager. In 1991, he switched to working as a mortgage lender for the Primerit bank, then at the Silver State Schools credit union, where he stayed until his retirement in 2008.

There were two brief returns to Coronation Street. First, he had a cameo role as Ray, working as a hotel waiter, when the 1997 spin-off video Coronation Street: Viva Las Vegas!, in which Vera and Jack Duckworth renewed their wedding vows in the US, was filmed in his adopted city. Then, in 2005, he returned to Britain for a six-week run as Ray telling his wife and daughter that he had terminal stomach cancer, before dying during the reception for Deirdre’s remarriage to Ken Barlow.

Neville was born in Prestbury, Cheshire, to Angela (nee Morris) and Jack Buswell, whose success in running Peak District pubs in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Whitehough and Sparrowpit enabled them to educate their son privately. At Belmont Abbey school, outside Hereford, Neville excelled at drama and sports. He performed in plays and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and was house captain, captain of boats and captain of rugby.

On leaving Rada in 1964, Buswell joined the Bristol Old Vic as an assistant stage manager and actor, then toured in the satirical revue Beyond the Fringe (1964-66). After his first Coronation Street run, he appeared on TV in the 1967 episodes of the sitcom Turn Out the Lights, Emergency Ward 10 and Love Story.

Suzanne survives him.

• Neville Alfred Morris Buswell, actor, born 20 January 1943; died 25 December 2019

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