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Well-loved English actor, Neil Morrissey (b. 1962), was in a children’s home and foster care as a child.  

Neil Anthony Morrissey was born in Stafford, England. His Irish parents, May and Larry, were psychiatric nurses. They both worked long shifts, and so the children were often left to fend for themselves.  

When Morrissey was ten and his next older brother, Stephen, was twelve, the pair were caught stealing sweets and stationery from a local shop. As a result, they were taken into care under a court order. 

I’m the third of four boys and we were slightly feral, left to our own devices, getting into loads of trouble, burgling and vandalising stuff in Stafford (Power). 

While in care, Morrissey was separated from his brother when they were placed in separate children’s homes. The pair had previously been very close. 

He was led out of one door and I was taken through another and that was it — I didn’t see him for ten years… For us, that day in court marked the end of family life. I remember Mum crying. I looked round and Dad was hugging her and I think there was a tear in his eye, too (Knight). 

Morrissey spent the next seven years in the Penkhull Children’s Home in Stoke-on-Trent, a series of cottage homes each presided over by a ‘house parent’. He only occasionally saw his parents, which had a lasting effect on him. 

I learned quickly to ignore any difficult feelings and just get on with it, which is what I’ve done since in the rest of my life (Hardie).

Morrissey eventually lost touch with his family. His brother, Stephen, was found dead of unknown causes in 1997. The pair had only seen each other a few times in adulthood, and had had no contact for a decade. 

Morrissey struggled with behaviour problems in school until he became involved in drama at age eleven. His drama teacher, Sheila Steele, approached him in the hallway and insisted he join the school play at Thistley Hough High School.  

It fulfilled what I was looking for emotionally. The glitz, the lights. You get praise, you get love and attention. I hadn’t had that before (Knight). 

Morrissey had found his passion, and acted in every school play afterwards. 

I loved it and I was in every school play from then on. I learned a lot of lessons about discipline and hard work. I’m a total grafter. When I’m on a job I’m 100% committed to it (Power). 

Between the ages of seventeen and eighteen, Morrissey lived with a foster family who were family friends. With their support, Morrissey finished his A-levels and was accepted into the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, “the launchpad for his acting career”. 

Morrissey is best known for his role as Tony in Men Behaving Badly (1992-1998). Since then he has performed in many roles for film and television including as Nigel Morton in Line of Duty (2012-2014) and Greg McConnell in The Good Karma Hospital (2017-2019).  He has also provided the voices for several cartoon characters on the popular children’s show, Bob the Builder 

In 2011, Morrissey was invited to make a BBC documentary about the UK care system based on his lived experience, Neil Morrissey Care Home Kid. The experience helped him come to terms with his past. Upon meeting the social worker who approved his care order, he learned that the authorities made their decision based on the understanding that the boys were not safe at home.  

I went there with my guns loaded. I wanted retribution for this idea that I was put into care for what seemed to be a very petty series of crimes… I realised that actually these people were there in a helpful capacity to try to get us through a difficult situation. 

I don’t blame my mum and dad for what happened — they weren’t bad people, they just weren’t very good parents… I don’t hold a grudge, but being separated in those early years clearly had an impact. Our relationship didn’t develop as it ought to (Knight). 

Morrissey’s son Sam was born in 1989. He and his ex-wife, actress Amanda Noar, divorced in 1991. Morrissey went on to have many unstable relationships and affairs. He now has a long-term partner, Emma Killick. The couple live together in London, where Emma works as a lawyer.  

Morrissey’s latest passion is brewing beer.  After losing his life savings in his first attempt as a businessman, Morrissey decided to try again. He is now owner of a popular chain of pubs in Staffordshire, including the Plume of Feathers at Barlaston. 

My first pub business went bust… I had about five years of austerity while I paid back hundreds of thousands to creditors, but I managed to keep my beer company alive and now I have two pubs and a fantastic business partner. Even when the first business failed, I wasn’t that downhearted. I thought, get back on the horse. Anyone can be positive about things. I’m a glass-half-full person (Powers). 


Hardie, Beth. “Who is Neil Morrissey? Why he was separated from his parents and family aged 10 and all about his affair with Amanda Holden.” The Daily Mirror, 23 March 2018. 

Knight, Kathryn. “Neil Morrissey confronts his troubled past as he reveals all about being split from his brother and put into care…for stealing sweets.” Mail Online, 19 February 2011.–stealing-sweets.html 

O’Connell, Sarah. “Neil Morrisssey Interview – Men Behaving Badly, Boon, Bob The Builder.” Youtube, posted by Sarah O’Connell Show, 4 May 2019. 

Power, Vicki. “Neil Morrissey: ‘I hated the press making me out to be a love rat.” The Guardian, 2 May 2020. 

Windle, Lauren and Kavanagh, Joanne. “Who is Neil Morrissey? Unforgotten star and Men Behaving Badly actor who appeared in Pilgrimage: The Road to Santiago.” The Scottish Sun, 12 August 2018. 

Image available here.