After decades of repression, fear and excuses Lawrence White (John Bowe) in Emmerdale finally finds the courage to declare his love for old pal Ronnie...
After decades of repression, fear and excuses Lawrence White finally finds the courage to declare his love for old pal Ronnie Hale this week.
John, 66, has been heavily involved in the campaign to have all the men like Lawrence, who were convicted under long abolished sexual offence laws, pardoned.
What impact has Lawrence’s storyline had?
“It’s been a bit of a blessing that Lawrence’s story coincided with a spotlight on the dreadful law pre 1967. I set up a petition and many others did too. I have friends who have personal experience of this and I got to hear about some of the traumas they went through in prison. I was really pleased when they gave Lawrence scenes where he graphically described what happened to him back in the ’60s when he was given aversion therapy to ‘cure’ him of being gay. Many younger people contacted me to say they had no idea that those sorts of things happened in the ’60s.”
Lawrence feels forced to confess his love for Ronnie when the builder declares that he is leaving the village – is it a relief for him?
“Telling Ronnie he loves him is a huge release. It is a final admission that he has feelings for this other man, but I don’t know where he goes from here. I am not sure that he is capable of having a physical relationship with any other human being.”
Does this mean John won’t be called upon to kiss co-star John McArdle who plays Ronnie?
“We’ll both have to talk to our wives first! Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley seem to have got over that, so I am sure we could too. There would definitely be no tongues. Listen, you’d be amazed at some of the things I’ve had to do during my career.”
Your career spans more than 50 years, including in 1996 playing the lead role in Poldark the TV movie!
“Yes I was Poldark, in a one-off made by HTV. It was a pilot for a new series based on the later books where Ross is a politician. Mel Martin played Demelza, Ioan Gruffudd played my son and Kelly Reilly was my daughter. In fact, it wasn’t too shabby. Winston Graham was on set all the time and we got almost 10 million viewers. But alas it wasn’t made into a full series… An actor’s life!”
John joined Emmerdale in 2014 and has no plans to leave just yet…
“I have been so lucky. I joined two years ago and now all this wonderful stuff is happening. We seem to be winning everything. I cannot wax lyrical enough about how much I enjoy it here. I will be happy to stay if they let me.”
Is there anything that helps you unwind?
“Golf is great for learning lines. I watch a lot of it. News and sport is my thing. I watch very little drama on TV. I’m a boring bloke, really.”