David Valla On Bill Warren

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Everyone knows a Bill Warren.  Jokey, always optimistic, always getting himself into fantastic scrapes out of which he only just manages to scramble ... quite the lad, but always coming a cropper when he can't quite put his, or more often someone else's money where his mouth is.  Barman at the Motel, Bill Warren is all of this and more.  A cheeky scapegrace who's always out there in his own personal wonderland, and always forgets that his fantasies can cause a lot of problems for other people's real lives.

David Valla plays Bill Warren and talking to him behind the scenes, it's easy to forget that it isn't actually Bill himself sitting there.  Valla deinitely enjoys his role as the Walter Mitty type barman and his own sense of humour has obviously been put into action in front of the cameras as well as in his private life. 
 
"He's great to play.  He keeps getting himself into the most rediculous situations, which I find very nice.  For instance he's been working for a brewery in Scotland and pretending he's Meg's son and not only that but he puts on a Scottish accent too.  Then when he comes back to the Crossroads Motel he's always getting mixed up between his English and his Scottish accents and of course from an actor's point of view that's a most interesting part to play.  He thinks he's a wow with the girls when actually he's bloody useless, he can't cope at all.  He thinks he's funny, but people don't really laugh, except for Avis - and she's probably going to spend the rest of her life with him, poor thing!"
 
Bill Warren is hardly everyone's idea of the most trustworthy figure, as David Valla's found out when he meets Crossroads fans in public.  "He's really got this dicey image.  I mean you find if you ask anyone to lend you a pound they don't want to know.  If I was Ronnie (Allen) everyone would come up and ask very politely for an autograph, but with Bill Warren people just come up and laugh.  Of course that's not very good for me: you see I really want to play Hadleigh.  I want to be Gerald Harper.  I used to want to be Robert Mitchum!  Except that I thought I was Robert Mitchum until I saw myself on screen and I got a bit worried.  So I stopped wanting to be a serious actor and I turned to comedy.  There are plenty of terrific serious actors around and not so many good comedy ones.  I think it's best for the comedy now."  
 
David Valla's own acting career, straight or in comedy, began when he left Drama School in 1962 and moved into Rep.  "I messed about a lot and then I won this BBC contract, a student contract for six months with the BBC Drama Rep.  I was furious because I wanted to win the second prize which was 25!  So I did a great deal of Radio and up until about 1966 I was really bogged down there.  Then came my break: I did a film with Nichol Williamson, 'Inadmissible Evidence'.  It was brilliant, a great film, but nobody wanted to see it.  The problem was it got condemned as 'arty' and that was that."
 
After the 'big break' David Valla's career faltered.  His marriage collapsed in 1970,  "I went through this terrible transitional phase of being unmarried" but then came another 'break'.  Then I met this girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma in America while she was in England and that just totally changed my life.  We live in East Anglia, I've got three children, I do plenty of broadcasting and I couldn't be happier."
 
Acting, David explained, is only one part of his life.  Playing Bill Warren in Crossroads, 'Ben Woodhouse' in radio's Waggoners Walk (another show scripted by Crossroads writer Peter Ling) are parts he enjoys, but he is the first to point out that life holds more than simply acting.  "My wife and I bought a delicatessan, but we just couldn't devote enough time to it, so we gave that up.  Then we went to the States and when we were there I was actually offered a radio station!  It was fantastic, but it was right in the middle of Arkansas.  And I thought, Oh God, can I do it?  But in the end I couldn't face it.  It would have been enormous security but I didn't take it."  

David Valla On Bill Warren ... continued