Taggart, was my first big TV role. I played Jamie, a boy who works in a chemist's shop who is wrongfully suspected of murder. Taggart was the name of the Glasgow detective played by Mark McManus, and the show is still running in the UK.
I was so excited when I got this part. It was the first time I had done any real acting on TV, and it was the beginning of quite a run of shows I did for Scottish television. I remember finding it really hard to play a young Scottish boy because I'd just come out of drama school and had never played any character in my own voice.
The thing about being the chief suspect in a Taggart in those days was that everyone knew you couldn't really be the murderer because you were being focussed on too much and given too much screen time. Eventually in the last part of the third episode the chief suspect would be exonerated and there would be a mad dash to catch the real killer, who of course had been featured in the previous episodes but you were lead to believe he (or she in my case) was a red herring.
Taggart saw my first TV nude scene. I remember being in the studios at Cowcaddens in Glasgow (which were being razed to the ground in front of my very eyes when I stayed in an apartment building opposite them when we performed The Bacchae there in 2007) and when the time came for me to disrobe, the producer, Robert Love, made an announcement from the galley saying that as I was about to show my pudendum there would be a closed set. I didn't even know I had a pudendum. (Robert is a very natty man, and we once joked that he and Victor and Barry had a time-share cravatte scheme!
When I was in my final year of drama school at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, I was asked along with my class-mates Forbes Masson (who I was already in cahoots with doing Victor and Barry) and David Lee Michael to take part in a short film as part of a training course for directors at BBC Scotland. The director was Justin C Adams and here is his piece, which was all about the first world war. I perform Anthem For Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen.
My professional debut as an actor was an episode of the Granada TV series, Travelling Man, that I filmed in the summer holiday between my second and third years at drama school, and which was boradacst on 12th December 1984. The series starred Leigh Lawson, and I played a boy called Jamie who knew Leigh's missing son.
I had never been on a film set before, I was completely green and utterly in awe of the whole thing. And I was so utterly excited to be doing an episode of a TV show whilst still a student, and trying desperately to act cool. I thought that you had to act really small because it was television and so as a consequence I hardly moved. If it wasn't that I spoke you'd think I was a photo! I met Leigh Lawson again years later because I got to know his wife, Twiggy.
The episode was directed by Sebastian Graham-Jones and shot near Manchester. Here's the letter I got telling me about my schedule!