How star actor sneaked Sheffield Wednesday into TV shows
Actor Thomas Craig might be working in Canada these days '“ but he's still managed to get his beloved Sheffield Wednesday on the TV show Murdoch Mysteries.
The former Coronation Street star plays Chief Inspector Brackenreid in the Alibi TV drama, which follows Toronto Victorian police detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), who pioneers modern sleuthing techniques.
Brackenreid is his gruff Yorkshire-born boss, who prefers a little old-fashioned policing, using his fists on suspects, at times.
Thomas has been working on the ninth series of the show and managed to persuade the producers to include a storyline about his beloved Owls.
It even features the famous Owls fans’ bounce celebration, even though clearly that wasn’t something they would have done in Victorian times.
Thomas said: “We’re doing an episode about Wednesday winning the league in 1903. I didn’t realise when we started the show and it was 1895 that each one was based on one year.
“I said, ‘Can we get a mention that Wednesday were league champions in England?’ In the end the whole episode was about winning the league.
“Then I said, ‘Can we do the bounce?’ so we had all these extras dodgily bouncing in the back of the scene.”
The show has Brackenreid returning to Owlerton, which was then outside Sheffield, to adopt a baby who has become orphaned.
Owls fans will be able to see the episode later in the series, which has just started on Alibi.
He also managed to sneak Sheffield Wednesday onto Corrie, by wearing Owls shirts in the show, despite a strict ban on all the Manchester-born actors wearing their team shirts.
Thomas said he keeps up with the Owls while on set through the BBC as he spends a lot of the year in Toronto, getting back to his family in London for a few weeks at a time.
“I have six weeks when I don’t see my family,£ he said.
“It’s difficult but it’s doable. My kids are 13 and 12 now and they were only five and four when I started.
“I thought I was at Coronation Street for a long time but it was only two and a half years.”
He has spent so much time in Canada that the government last year granted him landed citizen status, meaning he can live and work there indefinitely.
Thomas said that the show is very successful in Canada and the US and has featured a whole string of big star guests.
He has been asked on to big chat shows in Canada but his stardom doesn’t travel.
“I come back to London and nobody knows me!”
He gets back to see the Owls play and visit family in Sheffield whenever he can.
Thomas is originally from Upperthorpe and went to Upperthorpe and Tapton schools, then Shirecliffe College.
He was aged 19 or 20 and working as a plumber for a firm in Broomhill after leaving school in 1988 when he decided to become an actor.
“I met a girl in a pub who said she did acting. I realised it was good fun and I seemed alright at it. I’m still doing it 27 years later.”
Thomas said he had a great time on Coronation Street but has no regrets about leaving the show.
“I take my hat off to people who are in Coronation Street for years and years,” he said.
“I didn’t mind being told I was being killed off, although I had just bought a house in Manchester!
“I got killed off after meeting one new producer and they get rid of you. I had great storylines but at the end of the day you move on.”
Tom got his big break in the 2001 film The Navigator, directed by Ken Loach, which follows a group of five Sheffield rail workers and their reaction to the privatisation of the railway maintenance organisation for which they all work.
The script was written by a Sheffielder, the late Rob Dawber.
His many television credits include episodes of the comedy series Common As Muck; children’s series The Wild Life and Woof!; and dramatic series Blue Murder, Holby City, Doctors; Dangerfield, Soldier Soldier VII, Out Of The Blue II, Madson, Cadfael, Peak Practice, Casualty, Boon, A Time To Dance , El C.I.D, The Chief II and the award-winning crime drama series Inspector Morse.
Craig also appeared in the television movies Forgiven; Prime Suspect 4: Inner Circles, starring Helen Mirren; Seconds Out; Born Kicking; Smack And Thistle; and Mr. Wroe’s Virgins, a mini-series featuring Jonathan Pryce and Minnie Driver.
Craig has also performed extensively on the British stage in productions including Rita, Sue and Bob Too and Wild Oats at the West Yorkshire Playhouse; Biloxi Blues at the Library Theatre in Manchester; West Side Story with the Lost Theatre Co., Macbeth at the Swindon Theatre; and the UK Productions of Babes In The Woods and Jack And The Beanstalk.
Most recently, Craig received glowing reviews for his performance in London’s Derby Theatres production of Broken Hearted, where he was reunited with his fellow Corrie alumn Katherine Hunt.