South Riding star Shaun warned to watch his ‘thees’ and ‘thas’

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EEH bah gum... South Riding TV star Shaun Dooley had to mind his language filming the new Yorkshire-based TV drama - because bosses feared he wouldn’t be understood, writes digital editor Graham Walker.

The South Yorkshire-born actor found himself going back to his roots for his part in the new BBC1 three-part series.

Married, Single, Other: Shaun Dooley with co-star Lucy Davis.

Married, Single, Other: Shaun Dooley with co-star Lucy Davis.

But he was ordered not to slip into Barnsley dialect.

“My accent has softened, to be honest. But the Barnsley accent is so strong you want to start bringing out more thees and thas!” said Shaun, who was last seen in Married, Single, Other, after roles in Coronation Street and EastEnders.

“I got pulled back a little bit. They were saying, ‘Whoa... we don’t know what you’re saying. Watch ‘ya sen’. We don’t know what ‘ya sen’ means’.”

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch out full video chat with Shaun Dooley,

Barnsley boy: Shaun Dooley

Barnsley boy: Shaun Dooley

South Riding, a three-part adaptation of Winifred Holtby’s 20th century classic, is a rich portrait of Yorkshire life in the 1930s with co-stars Anna Maxwell Martin and David Morrissey, on BBC1, Sundays, from February 20, 2011, at 9pm.

It features the story of Lydia Holly - Charlie Clark - a 14-year-old girl with a difficult home life whose education is in jeopardy when her mother dies and she slips through society’s safety net.

Shaun is Lydia’s feckless father, Mr Holly.

“She is desperate to change her ways and go on to university. In some ways I guess it’s similar to what I did, going against tradition,” he said.

South Riding: Shaun Dooley's co-stars.

South Riding: Shaun Dooley's co-stars.

“I’m from mining stock. When I told my dad I wanted to be an actor I remember his very supportive words. He said the pits were shutting and I was going to be unemployed anyway - so I might as well be unemployed and chasing a dream.

“He had been more worried thinking I was going to tell him I was a Sheffield Wednesday fan. No chance!” laughed the Tykes fanatic, who regularly still makes the trip to Oakwell from his London home, where he moved 11 years ago.

The dream paid off for the boy from Cudworth - the former pit village which also gave the world chat-show king Michael Parkinson, Owls legend David Hirst, and Olympic star Dorothy Hyman.

The former Willowgarth High School pupil, who trained as an actor at Barnsley’s Electric Theatre and then at the Arden School of Theatre in Manchester, has also notched up appearances in Holby City, Silent Witness, Midsomer Murders, The Street and The Bill.

Shaun, aged 36, married with three kids, will be seen in forthcoming horror movies The Woman in Black with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, and The Awakening, with Sheffield’s Dominic West, from The Wire. But he’s currently in Scarborough filming Sugartown, with The Royle Family’s Sue Johnston. It’s a new comedy series about a seaside rock factory.

But it’s not all fun.

He fled Pakistan with a loaded pistol after terrorists shot four crew members while filming Kandahar Break with pal Dean Andrews.

And while filming Shackleton, with Kenneth Branagh, about the 1914 South Pole trek, their camp broke off into a floating ice pack.

He’s a method actor and admits to taking his characters home, which isn’t always a pleasant experience considering his bad boy roles, such as a cold-hearted cop in Red Riding and a brutal squaddie in The Mark Of Cain.

But he made up for all that with Eddie, the family man who won the hearts of millions of women nationwide in Married, Single, Other. He says ITV have no plans for a follow-up series, despite its popularity.

Shaun spoke to fans about his career at Barnsley’s Lamproom Theatre after agreeing to give his fee to the locally-based Pippa Jones Little Treasure Trust, in memory of a three-year-old brain tumour victim to give financial help to families of sick children. Donate at www.pippajones.org

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