RICHARD Moore's life nearly turned out very differently.

His first career was as a press photographer in Burnley and he didn’t follow his first love of acting until he was well into his twenties.

But now as Richard celebrates 50 years in entertainment, it seems hard to believe there was ever a time when he might have missed his calling in the world of showbiz.

“I still take a lot of photographs today, I really enjoy it,” said Richard, who is best known to TV fans as Emmerdale’s Jarvis Skelton.

“I’d have stuck at that if I hadn’t managed to make a career from acting.

“I have quite young children and thankfully Emmerdale paid for my son to go to university.” he laughed.

The 67-year-old’s career began with a run of more than 10 years with The Royal Shakespeare Company after training at Bristol Old Vic drama school.

His career has alternated between stage to screen. Major theatre credits includeleading roles in King Lear and Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead.

And as well spending five years in oe of TV’s most popular soaps, Richard has had parts on Band Of Gold, The Bill, Gold Plated, Born and Bred and Where the Heart Is.

“Fifty years,” said Richard, almost in disbelief, “It doesn’t feel like five minutes.

"It is an awfully long time I suppose but it doesn’t feel that way.

"Suddenly I find myself asking where has the time gone?

“But considering that I’ve done just about everything there is to be done in the profession I wouldn’t have any complaints if I were to stop today,” said the diehard Clarets fan who now lives in Cornwall.

From a young age Richard, who grew up in the Lane Head area of Burnley, was obsessed with amateur dramatics.

With his old friend Malcolm Hebden, better known as Coronation Street’s Norris Cole, he performed in six plays a year with The Highcliffe Players.

Richard said: “The group are no more sadly. They were formed in the 1940s by a mill owner for the workers and went on to play a significant role in local theatre in Burnley.

"We performed at a converted chapel in Queensgate, near the old bus depot.

“It was unusual in that every set they built had to have two alcoves, because part of the set had to be built around the organ.”

Next week Richard heads back to his roots as he takes on his latest role as Eddie Walters in Comedians at Bolton Octagon.

Set in Manchester in the mid-1970s, the play is considered by many to have signalled a revolution in stand-up.

It asks the question: is comedy just about the laughs? and follows a group of ordinary men on a night course in stand-up comedy run by hard-hitting comedian Eddie Waters.

“The Octagon is a relatively intimate theatre, you can give a level of performance which is slightly different to Manchester Opera House, and I like it that way,” said Richard who travels to Turf Moor every other week when Burnley are playing at home.

“And this play hits all the buttons. It’s as relevant now as it was in 1975.

"It hasn’t dated one iota. I’m hoping my friends will come over from Burnley to watch it.

"I’ll be putting on my northern accent,” he smiled. (Richard has lost his Lancashire over the years.) Although Richard hasn’t been on Emmerdale since 2005, he still gets recognised in the street as Jarvis the bin man.

And Richard has fond memories of his time on the other side of the Pennines.

You may have spotted the Clarets paraphernalia he sneaked into shots during his three years in the series including a claret and blue bobble hat and a scarf in his shed.

“The funny thing is people think if you’re not on the telly you’re not working.

"But I’m normally doing theatre work or just living — I do quite a lot of that,” he said.

Had Richard stuck with press photography, the chances are he’d be retired by now.

But the veteran actor has no plans to bow out of entertainment any time soon.

“I'm not retiring until I can’t remember my lines and start bumping into things, and then there’s always radio!

"I think it's one profession where you’re never really past it. Every script needs an old man.”

• COMEDIANS is at the Bolton Octagon from Thursday, April 15 to Saturday, May 8. Box office 01204 520661.