Will Mellor: 'If I can use my platform for good, then I will'

The actor speaks to Yahoo UK about his new docu-series Cops Gone Bad and helping make a real difference

Watch Will Mellor share his Origin Story:

Will Mellor is always ready to fight the good fight, with the actor telling Yahoo UK that he feels duty-bound to use his platform for good and "help hopefully right some wrongs".

The actor has already done so with his work in ITV drama Mr Bates Vs the Post Office, which has helped see the real-life victims of the Post Office scandal start to get justice, and now he is ready to do so again with Cops Gone Bad. The Crime+Investigation series, which is a follow up to Cops Who Kill, examines cases of corrupt police officers each week, with Mellor meeting with former cops, criminal psychologists and more to understand how and why these incidents happened.

Having worked in the industry for several decades, Mellor feels confident now in being himself and sharing his opinions in order to inform the public of miscarriages of justice in shows like Cops Gone Bad. By speaking out he hopes to "be a small piece of this puzzle in righting some wrongs".

Reflecting on how he's trying to achieve this, his early career, and his new project, Mellor sits down with Yahoo UK to share his Origin Story.

Will Mellor's acting start

Will Mellor poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' in London, Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Will Mellor said acting felt like a natural career path for him because he was always trying to entertain people when he was growing up. (AP)

What first drew you to acting?

It was just who I was, the only way I can explain it as a kid I grew up on an estate, a council estate, with four older sisters, there was six years between me and the youngest sister to me. So coming out as the only boy and being the youngest I got a lot of attention, and whether I enjoyed the attention, I don't know whether it was that, but I was just always on. I always wanted to entertain, I always wanted to make people laugh. I was always dancing, doing impressions, impersonations every time we went to Butlins or the caravan site. If there was a talent show, I'd go on it.

I just wanted to entertain people so I didn't know that was acting, per se, but I just wanted to entertain, that's all I can tell you. I had this dream that I was gonna be on TV from a very, very young age and then that was that. It wasn't until I was 11, 12, it was the first time there was a casting [call] for a new agency in Manchester called Lane Management and they were looking for raw talent, and they said 'if you want to bring your kids down we'll see if they've got something'. And they took me down, my parents, and the agent thought I had something and they took me on, and said 'we think we could do something with him' and the rest is history as they say.

You made your mark in soaps but have since gone on to appear in acclaimed dramas and docu-series like Cops Gone Bad, how would you describe the way you have grown as an actor?


STRICT EMBARGO - No Use Before Tuesday 12th October 2021

Coronation Street - Ep 10458

Monday 18th October 2021 - 1st Ep

Harvey Gaskell [WILL MELLOR] deliberately injures himself in prison and demands to go to hospital.

Picture contact David.crook@itv.com 

This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on  www.itv.com/presscentre/itvpictures/terms
Will Mellor has had many great roles onscreen including Harvey Gaskell in Coronation Street. (ITV)

I've always been of the opinion that I never want to be put into a box and saying well, 'this is what I do' because there's more to me than just being an actor. I sing, I taught myself to play the piano at a young age and I used to sit and play the piano and sing all the time, and any kind of entertainment is sort of where I want to be. I enjoy the factual side of entertainment because I get to be myself, whereas when I'm acting I have to be somebody else.

I'm quite comfortable in my own skin and being myself and talking, I love meeting people and doing factual [shows] helps me to meet different people, find myself in different scenarios and surroundings and I enjoy that. I think I just don't ever want to be one thing and I like to do different things, I like to challenge myself. I like to put myself in situations and learn, I'm always learning, I'm always on the move, I never sit still.

Cops Gone Bad

Cops Gone Bad (Crime+Investigation)
In his new series Cops Gone Bad, Will Mellor meets with several experts in the field including former Detective Chief Inspector Howard Groves, pictured. (Crime+Investigation)

The police are under a lot more scrutiny now than ever before, why do you feel it’s important to have shows like this now?

I enjoy factual drama, factual series... and I watch lots of programmes like 24 hours in Police custody. I enjoy watching them just see how the police work, to see how they do their job... there's ways of doing this and I think when they first asked me to do Cops Who Kill, they said we want someone to represent the public and be a real person, ask real questions and have real emotions when you see what's gone on here, and I said, 'that's me'.

I'm happy being myself, and I'd rather people get to see me and hear what I have to say genuinely because I believe there's an honesty and a truth that comes from that, and I wanted to make sure I ask the questions that people are shouting at the TV. I've found myself watching programmes going 'but why don't you ask them that? Why don't you say this? I wish they had said this.' So I just wanted to represent the public in this and [they can] come on the journey with me while I find out what these police officers did, how they did it, why they did it, and how can we prevent this happening again in the future?

Cops Gone Bad (Crime+Investigation)
Will Mellor took an interest in appearing in the show because he wanted to 'ask the questions that people are shouting at the TV'. (Crime+Investigation)

Also I think the police should be interested in finding a way of being able to trust within their units to point out a bad egg if they see one, because I think there's a lot of times where people have protected their own. It's giving the police, the great police that are out there, the confidence to be able to stand up and lift their head above the parapet and say 'no, there's a bad egg here and we need to have a look at them'.

We're not cop bashing here because we know 99% of police are great police, what we're doing here is saying if you do see it, say it before something bad happens, like Wayne Couzens with Sarah Everard, and David Carrick [who] got away with [sexually assaulting women] for far too long. Thank God they got him in the end, it comes down to the great police work that they did catch him and now he's in prison for the rest of his life.

You’ve seen first hand how shows like Mr Bates Vs the Post Office can result in real change, do you hope Cops Gone Bad can do the same?

Cops Gone Bad (Crime+Investigation)
Cops Gone Bad examines different cases of police corruption because 'it's only right for the public to know' but Will Mellor insists it's not 'cop bashing'. (Crime+Investigation)

All I ever want when I do these kind of things is to find an improvement, like let's learn from our mistakes because it's impossible to know in your workplace that everybody is there doing a fantastic job. We're all human beings and everyone's shaped differently, mentally, physically. But it's how you negotiate that in the workplace, and the problem you've got with police is there's so much power that comes with that and it's how they can tighten that net to stop them slipping through.

Whether they have to make changes in the recruitment, I don't know, all I know is we put it out there and we asked the question and I think it's only right for the public to know. But I have to reiterate again we are not cop bashing, we know you can't tide everyone with the same brush.

I hate it when people say 'oh don't like them because they come from that country, or I don't like them because they do that job', it's like, no, judge people as an individual. These are individuals who did horrendous things and they got punished for it, all we're trying to say is 'how do we prevent this from happening again?'


Pictured: WILL MELLOR as Lee and AMY NUTTALL as Lisa

This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk.  This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itv.com/presscentre/itvpictures/terms

For further information please contact:
Will Mellor said that doing shows like Cops Gone Bad and Mr Bates Vs the Post Office (pictured) 'gives [him] a chance to help hopefully right some wrongs.' (ITV)

I feel a proper responsibility, and that's what I did with the Post Office [scandal] — even though I was an actor in a drama, afterwards when people like yourself, journalists or on the news, if you ask me I do have an opinion and I feel it's my duty to give my opinion because I have a profile and a platform, and if I can use it for good then I will.

Doing Cops Gone Bad, Cops Who Kill, the post office scandal, all that sort of stuff, it just gives me a chance to help hopefully right some wrongs. And if I can be a small piece of this puzzle in righting some wrongs then great, I've done something good, and that's all I ever want.

Sometimes I go away and I play a character and it stays there but with the Post Office it was more than that because I was playing a real person and it's an ongoing thing that's happening now. It happened, but it still continued to happen. There's still more I can do, so if I can help in any way I'll try and do my best.

Final Thoughts with Will Mellor

Will Mellor poses for photographers upon arrival for the premiere of the film 'Black Adam' on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in London. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Will Mellor also shared the story of how at school his teachers 'gave up' on him, except for the head teacher, who always made him feel seen. (AP)

Were there any mentors in your life or career you would say had a defining influence on you and who set you on your career path?

I'll tell you what, this is a strange one, but my school gave up on me. When I was at school, they didn't understand me and I told them I wanted to be an actor and performer, and apparently I wasn't ever gonna do that.

Even my drama teacher said 'you're a failure, you're never gonna be anything' and that drove me on to be honest, it could have crushed me but it didn't. They actually threw me out of all the classes apart from maths, English and science, and told me I had to sit at the back of the class with headphones on so I didn't disrupt the class because I had all this energy, which is so bad.

But the head teacher, Mr Nolan I'll never forget him, sat me down and he just said 'listen, I don't wanna pull you up the school. I understand what you're trying to do here, I'm gonna support you, but I have to support the teachers at the same time', and it just made me think somebody gets me — nobody got me. And then he came to see me, I was doing a musical in Manchester called Oh What A Night where I met my wife, I was about 21-22 years old, and I got a letter and it was in my dressing room. It was from Mr Nolan, and he said 'I knew it was right to stick by you, keep going, kid'.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 07: (L-R) Jayden Will Mellor, Michelle Mcsween, Will Mellor and Renee Mellor attend the UK special screening of
Will Mellor said when doing a play with his future wife, Michelle McSween (centre, with their two children), he received a note from his old head teacher saying 'I knew it was right to stick by you.' (Getty Images)

Do you know what it made me feel somebody understood me, not a lot of people did get me when I was younger. They just thought I was trouble and they didn't try to work with me. They just thought you don't wanna do academic, you're not an academic so we'll just not bother with you.

And I'm an advocate now, I'm speaking out to people and teachers to say, 'hey, we're not all academics, but it doesn't mean we're failing, because we're not'.

If you could go back in time and give young Will any advice to change his origin story - what would it be and why?

I'd just try asking him to calm down and take time out every now and then, I don't know whether it's possible because that's part of my drive but my head doesn't stop, you know what I mean. I'd say, 'don't worry so much' because I worry about a lot of things and stress about a lot of things.

I'd just try and say sometimes sit back and have a look at the world around you, because if you keep going at this pace you'll just miss it all. And you don't have to be the most entertaining person in the room right now, because whenever I walked into a room I felt I had to entertain everybody and I didn't, but I felt like it was my responsibility to do so. Whether that's a nervous energy, whether it's part of ADHD, whether it's a part of just me being me, I'd just say 'calm down a bit, lad, you'll be alright'.

Cops Gone Bad premieres on Crime+Investigation at 9pm on Monday 26 February and will be available to stream on Crime+Investigation Play.

Read more:

Watch the trailer for Cops Gone Bad: