An actor appearing in an East London stage adaptation of benefits protest film I, Daniel Blake is cycling from London to Newcastle to raise money for foodbanks.

TV and West End actor David Nellist from Wallsend, Newcastle, has embarked on the gruelling 350-mile ride to ‘End the Cycle of Poverty’.

David is set to appear on stage at Theatre Royal in Stratford East this October for the stage adaption of the Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake, which focused on the struggles of a man negotiating the benefits system.

Newham Recorder: David Nellist outside Theatre Royal with bike in Stratford East

The play tells the story of Daniel, a widowed 59-year-old joiner who is denied benefits after being deemed fit to work despite his doctor saying he is too unwell, and his friendship with Katie Morgan, a single mother who moves to Newcastle from a homeless shelter in London.

Nellist is no stranger to the themes of the play. Prior to his work in the stage production, the actor volunteered at his local East London foodbank, and has since spent time with volunteers and regulars at Newcastle’s West End foodbank in between show rehearsals.

He said: “The struggles Daniel and Katie face in I, Daniel Blake could happen to anyone. […] This is more important than entertainment now and plays – occasionally you get to work on something really important. [...] It could be me, a friend of mine, or even my daughter in a few years’ time."

The play premiered at Northern Stage earlier this year, and each performance has been met with unprecedented support. Nellist described how surreal it was to see the audience responding to the storyline “with anger and being emotional, standing ovations every time”.

He described it as “an honour to tell these people’s stories", adding: "It’s on my conscience if someone were to fall through the cracks."

When asked how he thinks poverty can be tackled, Nellist said “Stand up and do your bit. If everyone did something little, just 1%, it would make a difference, no matter how small it seems it would be helping."

To donate to the fundraiser, please visit Fundraiser by Davey Nellist at

The actor has been posting updates on X, previously known as Twitter, with details of his progress at @nellidge. His cycle ride started on the Monday (September 4) and he has until Monday (September 11) to make it to the end.

David John, the actor who played Daniel Blake in the original 2016 BAFTA award winning film, added that it was “disheartening" to find not much had changed since the film's release.

He said: "The story is still as relevant as it was in 2016; even more so now with the cost-of-living crisis making it even harder for those who are already struggling."