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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Emily Retter

Robson Green finally kicked booze habit after seeing 'certain look on his mother's face'

It was a certain look on his mother’s face which ultimately made ­ Robson Green yank himself from the grip of drink and drugs.

Fame hit the actor with a jolt some 30 years ago, after he and fellow star Jerome Flynn sang Unchained Melody in the hit ITV drama Soldier Soldier, only for Simon Cowell to make pop stars of them and catapult them to the top of the charts.

A spiral into addiction grew as work took over and he lost his sense of self, along with his connection with home and his mining family in the North East.

Speaking more candidly than ever about that time, Robson recalls he was “haemorrhaging inside”, despite all his success, adding: “When you smell of drink and you look like a drunk it’s not nice, and there was just a certain look on my mother’s face that made me actually change.”

He recovered and has continued to enjoy a more balanced success.

But today he movingly reveals how he must now be the rock for his dear mum Anne, who has Alzheimer’s, describing how he takes her out into the Northumbrian countryside she adores most weekends, and has even helped her find a new home overlooking the stunning landscape.

“Mum’s so frail she can’t walk, so we sit in the car watching the world go by,” he said. “She loves it because that’s where she took us with Dad.

“She’ll say, ‘I remember walking here. Remember that time we found a seal?’ Long-term memory is so strong with Alzheimer’s.

“Getting her out looking at flowers, greenery and wildlife is really important. It gives her a good feeling. What’s interesting of late is she’ll say, ‘Are you taking me home now? I don’t want to go. Can we stay longer?’ She’s clearly processing something that’s making her very happy.”

Just as the great outdoors soothes his mum, it has proved key therapy for Robson, 58, too, who lives overlooking the Tyne with a view of Hadrian’s Wall from his window. As she now finds her old self there, he found himself, too.

It was walking, fishing, swimming, on the advice of a therapist, which helped him overcome his struggles.

And the actor shows off the beauty of his native Northumberland in his new BBC Two series Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes.

He shows off his native Northumberland in his new BBC Two series (BBC/Zoila Brozas)

The 15 weekday episodes are “breaths of fresh air”, he says, in which he is joined by guests includ­­ing ex-Newcastle footballer Les Ferd­­in­­and and TV host Steph McGovern.

“The North East is huge. It starts at the North York Moors and travels to the borders, the coastline goes for miles,” he raves. “I had a happy ­childhood. Maybe I’m trying to reclaim it with this series.”

He explains for his dad too, nature was a tonic, although the former miner never discussed his mental health.

The family were from a close-knit community in Dudley, Tyne and Wear. Robson grew up seeing five pit heads from his home, believing that he would become a miner, too.

Ultimately, he ended up working in the shipyards. If it hadn’t been for amateur dramatics, he might have stayed there.

“Dad worked through the night, because you got more money,” he explains. He walked in 3ft of space 600ft under the earth, for 42 years. I saw the physical damage that job did.”

For all the pressures they brought, Robson retains a fondness for those Robson and Jerome days – their next chart topper, I Believe, kept Wonderwall by Oasis off top spot.

“Do you know what the NME called us? The anti-Christ of popular music! It was hilarious,” he says. He found their appearance on Top Of The Pops, when they beat Oasis, a giggle.

He now lives with his partner Zoila Short (Getty Images)
Robson Green and Jerome Flynn (Daily Mirror)

“Oasis hated us because Wonderwall was never number one! And we’re on the stage and I got the microphone and said ‘We’re not nicking your fans, Liam, get over it’.”

The actor, who has now starred in the popular 1950s detective drama Grantchester for nearly 10 years, relishes his sedate life.

Following two failed marriages – he had his son with his second wife – he lives with partner, Zoila Short.

And the couple have found peace despite the furore their getting together caused in 2016 when she left her vicar husband for him.

Zoila worked on the new series, behind and in front of the cameras.

“I come off the river and it’s dark and Zoila is still casting for fish, she loves it,” he says.

Robson still loves acting, he wouldn’t even say no to reuniting with Jerome, 59. There’s actually been discussion of a project, if their schedules can sync – strictly acting only.

But it is in the North East he has found his grounding. In the river, the coast and the historic monument winding outside his home – his very own Wonderwall.

  • Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes at 6.30pm on Monday on BBC Two.

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