Seventies’ hunk Essex explores
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
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,"
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
"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.