Ex-Emmerdale’s Bill Ward becomes supermarket delivery driver after acting work dried up

Former Emmerdale star Bill Ward got stuck into a new job as a Tesco delivery driver after acting jobs dried up during the pandemic.

The actor – who played James Barton in Emmerdale and builder Charlie Stubbs in Coronation Street – lives in Bristol with his partner and their two children.

Since the coronavirus outbreak dealt a hammer blow to the entertainment industry, Bill has been working as a part-time delivery driver for Tesco since May.

He’s also been teaching drama, doing voiceover work and helping to raise money for theatre venues under threat.

Bill – who was touring in a production of The Glee Club when the pandemic hit – told Bristol Live : “Towards the end of May it started to become clear that the pandemic wasn’t going away, and if anything it was going to get worse.

“That’s when you look at the rest of the year ahead and think, ‘Okay, I need to make a living this year; how are we going to do that as a family?’

“My partner and I started doing things we wouldn’t normally be able to do as much of, and for me one of those things has been giving photography talks to camera clubs over Zoom.

“I’ve also taught in drama schools and film schools, written for photography magazines and done a few bits of voiceover work for Channel 5.

“But on top of that you need some kind of regular income, so I’ve been a delivery driver for Tesco since the end of May, doing around 30 hours a week.”

Bill is an accomplished photographer and has been helping raise money for theatres under threat by putting together a picture book full of haunting snaps of empty venues.

The pictures were taken by Bill over years while he was touring on stage and he’s put them together into a book called Theatres In Danger.

It’s being sold to raise money for the Theatres Trust, which supports under-threat venues.

Bill said he has “thoroughly enjoyed the year” despite the challenges it has presented and “counts himself lucky” he’s been able to rely solely on his acting work for the past 18 years up until 2020.

He’s currently in the middle of filming a new series for Channel 4 and also won a major photography award – the Judge’s Choice for South West England in the 2020 Historic England Lockdown Collection.

He said his experience is by no means uncommon, with many of his peers turning to similar kinds of work.

“With theatres shut for such a long time it affects the whole ecology of our work,” he added. “It’s been very difficult to make a living from acting this year.

“Most actors and others behind the scenes have been as equally impacted this year, and as we’re all freelancers it means we can’t be furloughed or receive self-employment income support scheme.

“It’s a case of doing whatever you can to earn a living, and it’s part of the reason I wanted to do something to support the theatre industry.”

He added of the book: “Over the past 10 years I’ve taken a photo of every theatre I’ve visited with work.

“I just love theatres as spaces; there’s an incredible energy in them which is quite unique…

“I started going through the back catalogue of all the pictures I’d taken over the years and realised I had an awful lot which I’d never shown before.

“That spurred me on start posting pictures them on my photography Instagram page and a friend of mine who’s a photojournalist got in touch to say there was a book idea in it

“At first I thought it was a ridiculous suggestion, but after giving it some thought I got more on board with the idea.

“It was instantly obvious we should make the book a charity project so that the theatres themselves benefited from the sales.”

Alongside the book, Bill is also selling limited edition prints of more than 50 additional theatre photographs, making just under 100 photographs in the project in total.