Aged 18-19, Ray studied acting at the Corona School. He had a checkered career there, before being cast by director Alan Clarke as 'Carlin' in the BBC Play production of Scum, which was shot in March/April 1977.In Ray's own words:
"By the time Scum came up I'd made up my mind not to be an actor, I was leaving drama school. I'd lasted twelve months, no remission. They tried to get me out a couple of times and they were probably right, to be perfectly honest; I was a bit of a toe-rag. I was told I was a bit of a danger to the other kids 'cos of my accent. So I sabotaged the headmistress's car - I got a lolly stick and put all these tacks through it, put it under her front tyre and when she drove off, bang. But some straight kid turned grass - he lollied me up, as they say - and I was asked to leave the premises. And it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. They were having a casting and I was only supposed to be there saying goodbye to my mates. I got talking to the receptionist and she said, 'You wanna go in and meet the director?' I said, 'Nah, not really, I'm off for a drink with the boys,' I was flirting with her really, showing off, but I went in and met Clarkey [director of 'Scum' Alan Clarke]. And I got the job! I didn't have a clue what it was, hadn't seen the script, and I didn't really care. I thought, 'Yeah I'll do it, bit of a laugh'. It was written for a Scotsman originally, he was a Glaswegian in the script, Carlin. But apparently Al gave me the part because he like the way I walked down a corridor." ["Alan Clarke" edited by Richard Kelly, Faber & Faber 1998, p95]Despite telling Alan Clarke that "I retired from boxing to become an actor so I didn't get hit" ["Alan Clarke" edited by Richard Kelly, Faber & Faber 1998, p101], Ray was involved in some very gruelling and violent scenes in this harrowing story of Borstal. Due to the uncompromising nature of the subject matter, Scum was shelved by the BBC. Disillusioned by this shelving, Ray left acting completely for a couple of years and worked at anything he could find from running fruit stalls to being a sales rep.
A phone call from producer Davina Belling (Kendal Films) about the making of a commercial film version of Scum became the long awaited breakthrough, and lead to a long career of major parts both in film and television [see Film, TV and Theatre Credits for full listings].
Ray is 5'10" with brown/fair hair and brown eyes. He has been married to Manchester-born Elaine for over 20 years, whom he met on the production of That Summer in 1979. They have three daughters, Lois and Jaime, born in 1982 and 1985 and a third daughter, Ellie Rae, born on 21 May 2001. He loves football team West Ham United and lives in Roydon in Essex. He also frequently plays charity football and golf and apparently is a good footballer. He is a member of the club Soho House and his favourite pub is The Crusader in the High St, Roydon.
Ray has recently started a production company, Size Nine, with producer Joshua St Johnston and Michael Wiggs, Ray's long-time friend and agent. Size Nine produced a drama written by Simon Tyrrell entitled She's Gone for ITV1 (2003). Ray and Michael also co-own Flicks Productions.
In August 2007, an unauthorised biography of Ray by Nigel Goodall was published. You can buy it from Amazon.co.uk.
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