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Seventies’ hunk Essex explores Traveller roots 11.02.14

SEVENTIES' heart-throb David Essex has revealed how he tapped into his Irish Traveller heritage for his latest acting role.
Essex (66) stars in the independent feature film 'Traveller' which explores the conflict between the Gypsy world and the world of settled people in Britain.
He plays Gypsy horse dealer Blackberry who gives refuge to Owen McBride, a troubled young man of mixed Traveller heritage who is on the run from gangsters and struggling with his identity.
It is not a huge leap for the 'Hold Me Close' singer who was born David Cook in the East End of London to Olive (nee Kemp) an Irish Traveller and dock worker father Albert. The performer's grandfather, Thomas Kemp, was a tinker from Cork who was better known as Philly Mór.
Though he never met Philly Mór, Essex has previously attributed his trademark curls, steely blue eyes and restless nature to his Celtic roots.
"There is definitely Gypsy in my soul. I've always toured either with stage shows or rock concerts. I've always been slightly restless. I could easily see myself being a Traveller. I'd fit in perfectly," he said.
Chart-topper Essex was in 1999 named patron of the Gypsy Council which aims to improve conditions for Gypsies and Travellers in Britain.
He also wrote the 'Traveller' soundtrack and was delighted to work alongside acting newcomer and real-life son Billy Cook (25) who plays Owen in the film.
"The location was an actual Traveller site, with real-life Travellers as extras. (Billy) insisted on living in a freezing cold caravan with no electricity. I was so proud of him. I stayed in a hotel!" Essex told 'Woman's Weekly'. ‘Traveller’ is out on DVD and video on demand now.
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