Press Centre

Piers Morgan's Life Stories

  • Episode: 

    3 of 7

  • Title: 

    Neil Morrissey
  • Transmission (TX): 

    Fri 17 Jan 2014
  • TX Confirmed: 

    No
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 03 2014 : Sat 11 Jan - Fri 17 Jan
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Amended: 

    Thu 16 Jan 2014
- Being a Man Behaving Badly both on and off screen
- His affair with Amanda Holden and shaking Les Dennis by the hand since
- Being taken into care at the age of ten
- Partying with Mel Gibson and pretending to be his brother to pull women
- His relationship with Rachel Weisz before she became Mrs James Bond
- Being the voice of Bob the Builder – but Neil says he’s being replaced in future
- Losing over £4 million pounds after his business went bust
 
Neil Morrissey shot to fame when he played Tony in the sitcom Men Behaving Badly.
 
During the recording of Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, Piers couldn’t resist asking Neil, “Still behaving badly?”
 
“No, I don’t think so,” said Neil. “It was a great title, wasn’t it? And everyone’s used it since.”
 
Piers asked: “Do you mind that despite an amazing 30 year career, most people, I guess would still personify you with that show and that amazing hit that you had?”
 
Neil said: “I think it’s very flattering actually, that it should stay in the public’s consciousness for so long.  It must have had such a massive impact, so it’s flattering in many ways.”
 
The success of Men Behaving Badly rocketed Neil into a different level of stardom.  Piers asked, “Be honest, was it very intoxicating, did you love it?”
 
“Yeah, how can you not?  It was fantastic,” admitted Neil.  “The four of us would go to a restaurant together and watching the Maitre’D have apoplexy as we arrived through the front door.  That feeling of power, because we were still quite young people and it was great.”
 
Life wasn’t always as fun for Neil, his path to success hasn’t been an easy one.  In May 1973 when Neil was just ten years old, he and his older brother Stephen were caught burgling and put into care.  Neil never lived with his family properly ever again.  After spells with different carers Neil settled in a home of eight children.
 
Neil told Piers about the day he went into care:  “It wasn’t the first time we’d been to court.  We were so young because you couldn’t even start going to court in those days until you were nine years old.  We thought it was just going to be another reprimand.  I had no idea what the day held in front of me and wasn’t briefed, and why would they, that the chances were we might not be going home that night.  So it was a bit strange, the whole day.”
 
“The words Care Order, I seem to remember.  Maybe I’ve made that up because I know what that means now.  I heard sighs and then turned around to see my mum and dad both crying behind me and then I was asked to follow this lady.  Then we were taken to the social services offices, and then they took Steve off.  Then I was placed into a place called Rotherwood, which was an assessment centre in Stafford.  I think it was policy, which I’ve since learnt, that they purposely didn’t allow my parents to see me for about three weeks so I’d settle in.”
 
“I’ve since discovered the Social Services were worried about our on going situation.  I remember one of the guys coming round and saying, ‘You should have seen the state of your house when you were ten.’ Well because we were noisy kids the neighbours had complained about us and they moved us to this god awful place, where I remember waking up in the mornings, because I was wetting the bed at the time as well, so I had a wet bed and quite a bit of the plaster would have fallen down on the bed, so you had to shake off the plaster before you even got out of the bed.  There was no loo inside, so no wonder I was wetting the bed, there was a bucket on the landing.  I was a ten-year-old, we’re talking about 1972 here.”
 
Piers said: “Both your parents were nurses, that’s the twist that I found so extraordinary in this.”
 
“I think there were flawed.  They weren’t great parents but they were nice people. If you were to talk to their friends, they’re life and soul of the party, great fun people and did care but they had their little issues.  They would go out to the pub or social club and leave us indoors.  I remember being very young and waking up to find there were no parents in the house, so it didn’t take long before we started to figure out which window led to a drainpipe, what time they were coming back, so we could go out and commit all kinds of crimes, like knocking on people’s doors and running away, whilst they were at the pub, and still be in bed by the time they got back.”
 
Neil didn’t see his brother Stephen for nearly a decade and whilst in care he was given tattoos by the older boys.
 
“I didn’t know what the hell was happening,” explained Neil.  “The big boys used to grab you and take you when you were in the rec room and you couldn’t refuse, you were just tattooed -‘Give me your arm’.
 
Neil showed Piers the tattoos that are still on his body and will always be a reminder of that time.  The tattoos include a saint on his arm, dots on his knuckles and his own name on his other arm.
 
Neil positively told Piers: “My memories of that period aren’t all bad at all.  I eventually got into the home with Auntie Margaret.”
 
Neil was loved and cared for by Auntie Margaret (his ‘house mother’ at the children’s home) and later also by foster mother, Wendy, who took him in whilst he studied for his A' Levels.  Neil became emotional when he talked to Piers of his gratitude towards them.
 
“I don’t think you can ever fully repay what’s been given to you.  I could have been a big Hollywood star and I could buy them all big houses but you can’t give back that kind of care.  That’s not going to happen.  I can be grateful for it, that’s all I can do,” he said.  “You can’t financially give it.  All I can do is give them a big hug.”
 
Neil always enjoyed drama and he won a place at the prestigious Guildhall College of Music and Drama. 
 
Piers asked: “How did you feel about that?”
 
“One of the best days of my life.  The nearest thing I’ve had to that kind of enjoyment since is probably watching my child being born, it’s that big a thing in my life.  I can’t explain the euphoria,” he explained. 
 
Neil credits his background for landing him the place. “I think it flipped. They were thinking, ‘He’s an interesting guy because he’s been brought up in children’s homes.”
 
At the age of 20 Neil won a role in the movie The Bounty starring Mel Gibson, Lawrence Olivier and Anthony Hopkins.  Neil admits that he used to go on the pull with Mel Gibson and pretend to be his brother.
 
“When you’re out with Mel Gibson, all the women just sit around him.  I’d say, ‘I’m sick to death of it Gibson,’ and he’d say, ‘It’s alright mate, just tell them you’re my brother,’ so I said, ‘I’m Neil Gibson,’ and it worked.”
 
Neil certainly hasn’t done badly with women.  Neil met his first wife, Amanda Noar, when they were starring in Boon, and they had a son, Sam.  The marriage didn’t last and he met his next long-term love Liz Carling, also on Boon.  Neil’s next girlfriend was Rachel Weisz who he met whilst working on My Summer with Des. 
 
After splitting with Rachel, Neil began a relationship with Amanda Holden.  The problem was that at the time Amanda was married to Les Dennis.  Neil was branded a ‘Love Rat’.
 
Piers asked: “You’ve never really spoken about the relationship with Amanda, why is that?”
 
Neil said: “I think enough was said about it.  This was a very short fling.”
 
“I didn’t have representation at the time, in terms of PR and this was the first time I’d really come under the cosh.  Well you know, you were sending around my house.”
 
Piers said: “It’s true, I mean for the papers this was gold dust.  This was Men Behaving Badly star, behaving very badly.”
 
Neil said: “Yeah, it couldn’t have been better copy could it, for most people? To think that I’m getting the blame.  There were some hateful things that were said in the papers but you know it turns out it should be tomorrow’s fish and chip paper, but people are still going on about it now.”
 
Piers asked how it felt to be known as a ‘Love Rat’.
 
Neil said: “That was the newspaper headlines, but I promise you, when I was walking past a building site, all the blokes would turn around and go, ‘Go on Neil, go on son’.  So yes, there’s the other end of the scale too.  I don’t know what everyone truly thought of me.”
 
Piers said: “Amanda has just written her autobiography and she wrote about it in some detail but I have to say, she wrote about you in a pretty affectionate way.  Is that how you feel, looking back on it?”
 
Neil said: “Yeah.  We had a lovely time when we had that brief fling. I’ve since ran into Les a few times and shook his hand.  He lives near us in North London.”
 
Piers asked if it was awkward.
 
Neil said:  “Slightly, I’d say, but both of us are grown ups, everyone’s got on with their lives.  Amanda’s had various things to deal with in her career and her life, Les has got on with it as well – he’s remarried, he’s got babies.  It’s all worked out great.”
 
Piers said:  “I’m told you have a great bit of advice for all actors.”
 
Neil said: “Yeah, don’t f*** a game show host’s wife.  Oh dear, God forgive me for that!”
 
Piers said: “Did you ever apologise to Les, actually say, ‘I’m sorry’?”
 
Neil said: “No, I didn’t.  I’m not positive of what there is to apologise for.  I don’t know what the whole situation was, to be perfectly fair to everybody.  I feel sorry for how the situation was dealt with and I feel sorry for how emotional Les seemed to get then after that.  It was very difficult for him and for that I’m very sorry.”
 
Piers said: “Amanda did say you were a very good kisser.  Something you pride yourself on?”
 
Neil cheekily responded: “You want to have a go?”
 
Piers asked: “Was the relationship with Rachel Weisz a factor in you splitting up with Liz (Carling)?”
 
Neil said: “I was engaged to Liz and then I met Rachel.  Yes, I guess in a sense yes, but honestly, it’s…in a sense, yes.”
 
Piers said: “What sense?”
 
Neil explained: “In a sense that I felt the course of Liz and I had run it’s course and I suddenly met someone I was extremely fascinated with and started a relationship.”
 
Piers said: “Rachel’s now married to James Bond.  That’s got to hurt, hasn’t it?”
 
Neil said: “I know, little Dan.  He’s worked out a bit though, hasn’t he?  International star extraordinaire.  No fantastic, I couldn’t be more happy and everyone’s got what they want out of life since that.  It was a long time ago.”
 
Piers asked: “Have you stayed in touch with the ladies?”
 
Neil said: “I don’t see Rachel.  She’s far too busy abroad.”
 
In early 2000 Neil put money into a business – a hotel and restaurant chain, but he went bust.
 
Neil said: “I personally lost close to four million plus, which was everything I’d got.  Everything from those early Boon years, Waterloo Road, Men Behaving Badly, commercials, you name it, everything - gone.  An absolute kick up the cojones.”
 
Rather than being declared bankrupt, Neil chose to work hard to pay back each and every one of his creditors.  Piers asked why he didn’t take the easy option?
 
Neil said: “I felt terrible for these people who had invested on my name, when I was at meetings with them saying, ‘Give me your money and I’ll turn it into a lot of money. They did and then the rug was pulled very firmly from under our feet.  So I decided, and it was a hard meeting, to go and sit in front of the creditors, who were going to lose money, and say to them, ‘Look, I know I can work, I know I can get out there and I can earn’.  How terrible would that have been if I’d just walked away and gone off and lived my normal life?  I would have felt awful.  So, I got on the work trail and did everything I possibly could to earn as much as I could to pay everybody back.”
 
Piers said: “How successful have you been in paying the debt?”
 
“All done.  Paid it all off.  Finished in August and believe me it was bloody hard,” said Neil.  “Every asset you have has to go.  You have to sell everything.  Everything from my child’s pension had to go, to clearing out every bank account, everything.”  He continued: “Course at the end of it, you’re left with zero,” said Neil.  “I’ve borrowed the suit,” continued Neil, lifting his jacket.
 
Neil was famously the voice of the children’s character Bob the Builder. 
 
“It was the most fun that three people can have around a microphone,” said Neil.
 
“It was good while it lasted and I believe there is going to be more and I’m not going to be Bob anymore.  They are replacing me.”
 
“Piers said: “No!  This is disgusting!”
 
Neil responded: “I think there should be a public outcry too.”
 
Piers said: “Who are they getting?
 
Neil said: “I don’t know.  Some cheap person.”
 
Neil has found happiness in his personal life and is in a relationship with girlfriend of ten years, Emma Killick.  She’s a lawyer and stays out of the limelight.
 
Talking about Emma, Neil said: “She’s not showbizy at all, she didn’t want to be involved in this at all.  She probably won’t even watch it.  It really keeps me grounded. Everyone who knows actresses will know they’re a different breed.  This is much better for me, with Emma not being in the same game, as it were.”
 
Piers ended by asking:  “What would you say to the little boy of ten who was taken into care and probably thought the whole world was collapsing around him.  What would you say to him, knowing the way everything was going to work out?”
 
Neil said: “Don’t f*** a game show host’s wife.”