The Marvelous Neil Baldwin is Back to Make People Feel Better
Celebrities, politicians, and individuals who have done something particularly courageous or remarkable are the types of people who have their life stories transformed into films and plays. On the surface, Neil Baldwin appears to be an unusual subject.
He’s a former clown and Stoke City kit man who’s not well-known outside of his Staffordshire hometown and hasn’t been involved in any daring or exciting historical events.
However, those who saw the touching film Marvellous in 2014 realized he is exceptional and heroic in his own right.
They saw his extraordinary capacity to convey happiness and charm himself to everyone he encounters, from students to archbishops to football players.
They also witnessed how he always gets what he wants and perseveres in the face of hardship, despite his learning disabilities.
“I felt it was a good film when I saw it,” he says now. “The greatest movie ever created. And I still believe it.”
In 2015, Marvellous took home three Baftas, including best single drama, as well as awards from the Royal Television Society, Broadcasting Press Guild, and Monte Carlo Television Festival.
Baldwin has earned numerous awards since then, including the freedom of Stoke-on-Trent and the British Empire Medal for contributions to the community of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
When he visits Newcastle-under-New Lyme’s Vic theatre to discuss the stage adaptation, he now wears the medal everywhere and has it pinned to the front of his jacket.
He co-wrote the performance with Theresa Heskins, the venue’s artistic director, and it’s finally on stage after a pandemic-induced hiatus.
“Three times it was postponed due to the pandemic,” Heskins explains, sitting in the theatre’s lounge with Baldwin during a break from rehearsals.
Baldwin’s mother worked as a cleaner at Keele University, where the young Baldwin became a beloved presence and unofficial mascot. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams recently performed a special service in Baldwin’s honor to recognize his 62 years on campus.
He was given honorary life membership of the students’ union in 1968, and he was awarded an honorary degree in 2013.
In 1980, he joined the circus as Nello the clown because he enjoyed making people laugh. His second interest is Stoke City FC, and when he introduced himself to new manager Lou Macari in 1991, Macari saw Baldwin as a positive presence in the locker room.
Baldwin was designated as the kit guy, and he described him as “my best_ever singing”.
In his autobiography, Macari noted, “His actual worth was in helping the players relax before games.” “No chemist has ever created a medication that can reduce stress levels as effectively as Nello. This, I was persuaded, provided us an advantage in contests. Nello was the glue that held the gang together.”
Baldwin has even run his own football club at Keele University, entitled Neil Baldwin FC, since 1967, with the help of Kevin Keegan and Gary Lineker as presidents. Of course, they agreed.
Baldwin’s autobiography was published in 2015, and when they began work on the play, he and Heskins went over his entire story with a group of players. Baldwin’s trademark positivity was justified when it came to making Marvelous.
Baldwin was able to establish even more high-ranking friends as a result of the picture. He remembers one of his proudest days, a visit to Buckingham Palace, as a devout royalist.