Village life is right up Ian's street

Former Coronation Street star Ian Mercer is making a new name for himself - as a willing supporter of grassroots events in the rural North-East community where he lives.

Former Coronation Street star Ian Mercer is making a new name for himself - as a willing supporter of grassroots events in the rural North-East community where he lives.

He recently appeared on cinema screens alongside superstar Russell Crowe in the Oscar-winning seafaring epic Master and Commander, but is also happy to lend a hand to more modest projects closer to home.

Five months ago Ian - who played Gary Mallett for five years - delighted locals by appearing in the panto in Pegswood, near Morpeth in Northum-berland when the show found itself short of cast members.

He volunteered to play landlord Toby Jugg and took to the boards in front of an audience of 200 in Sleeping Beauty staged in the village's Ex-Servicemen's Club.

Yesterday Ian, 42, was back in Pegswood, this time to judge an annual photographic competition run by Castle Morpeth Borough Council at community computer centres.

Ian, who lives with his wife Susan and their two children in the Morpeth area and who got married in Bothal Church, near Pegswood, agreed to help out after the council's online facilitator Paul Harrison asked him.

Yesterday Ian, whose TV credits also include Cracker and Common as Muck, said: "One of the really useful things about being a bit of a celebrity is being able to support local good causes like this and help give them a higher profile or a bit more publicity.

"I will be opening a summer fair at a school nursery in Morpeth next month and attending the Northumberland Miners' Picnic in July because I do believe in getting involved in local community events."

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