In this production by the Royal Shakespeare Company, I played Silvius, the young shepherd in (unrequited) love with Phoebe.
The production opened at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in the autumn of 1989, then toured to Newcastle before playing the London season at the Barbican in 1990.
All I will say about this production is that I hated my costume! When the story got to the forest of Arden, everyone suddenly wore underclothes. All the other boys who were the Duke's followers got to wear cut-off longjohns and singlets, but I had to wear white Y-fronts and have flowers in my hair. It was mortifying. The best thing about working at the RSC was making some great friends that I've kept in touch with ever since.
Sophie Thompson, who played Rosalind worked with Alan again in the films Emma and Nicholas Nickleby and as Juliet to his Romeo at the RNT studio.
Stephen Unwin, who had directed me in The Conquest of the South Pole, asked me to be in another weird German play called Knickers by Carl Sternheim, at the Bristol Old Vic theatre
The play is about a woman whose knickers fall down when she is watching a procession go by one day. This causes two men to become infatuated with her and move into the apartment she shares with her husband! My character was obsessed with Nietzsche.The other character who was in love was played by an actor who actually left the production after the first preview, so we were flung into turmoil (which was of course rather exciting).
This was the first play I had done in a rep in England, and I remember feeling like a proper actor going on the bus every day from my digs to the theatre.
In Heavenly I played an angel who came down to earth each week and looked at everyday things from his point of view. The six parts of this series were originally included as segments in the Channel 4 show Club X, but were later broadcast on their own.
Heavenly was written and directed by my friend Mark Cousins who later went on to run the Edinburgh Film Festival as well as presnet many TV shows and write many books on cinema, as well as be a lovely person.
My brother Tom apeared in this series! This is him in the picture with me standing in the puddle.
At the end of 1988, Forbes Masson and I flew to Sydney, Australia to start rehearsals and in early January 1989 we opened at the Playhouse of the Sydney Opera House in See Victor and Barry and Faint, a version of the show we had performed the previous year at the Edinburgh Festival, on tour in Scotland and at the Donmar Warehouse in London as part fo the Perrier Pick of the Fringe season.
After a month in Sydney we toured to Adelaide, Alice Springs, Cairns and Rockhampton.
I remember that the hole in the ozone layer had recently been discovered above Australia and there was a huge PR campaign going on to encourage people to protect themselves from the sun. We were both incredibly pale and people would literally scream 'skin cancer' at us in the street, and ask us what factor we were using.
Here we are in a short clip from a hilarious TV show in Adelaide called A Touch of Elegance and from the Rockhampton local news show.
Automatic Transmission was a pilot for Night Network on ITV in the UK, which I shot with Forbes Masson and Ross King late in 1988.
The premise was that Ross drove a huge old NYC taxi and the guests sat with him in the front, and Forbes and I, in our guises as Victor and Barry, were the car wash men who hopped into the back of the taxi and bitched about the guests in the front. Luckily we shot our bits on a different day from the guests! The pilot had The Boys, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Pia Zadora as guests, but strangely it was never made into a series!!
At the 1988 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Victor and Barry's sell-out show Victor and Barry Say Goodbye was chosen to be part of the Perrier Pick of the Fringe Season at the Donmar Warehouse in London's Covent Garden.
This was Victor and Barry's first sojourn south of the border (though they would be soon appearing south of the equator when they toured Australia) and it caused quite a storm amongst the Scottish media. It's hard to describe now, but in the eighties it was still a big deal to 'make it' in London if you lived in Scotland. And as Victor and Barry had become really succesful in a relatively short time there was much anticipation about their London debut and how they would be received (indeed even if the would be understood.)
So when Scottish TV asked to film us and our preparations for the Donmar debut we decided it would be fun to make it a sort of mockumentary in Victor and Barry's rather surreal style. Our friend Hazel Eadie, who had been in our panto the previous year at the Tron Theatre, made an appearance as a mysterious beauty, and our au pair was played by the actual room-mate we inherited when we rented a half-renovated flat in Stoke Newington from a set designer I had been working with. It is a bizarre little show culminating in some footage from the actual first perfomance. Look out for actor Richard Griffiths who was in the audience for some reason!
I got the call to return to Glendarroch and do another stint on Take The High Road, but this time...yikes...I was to be killed off. It was actually a very great honour as I was the first character ever to be murdered in Take The High Road.
I was burned alive in Mr Blair's peat shed. Natch. They didn't even get me to play my own charred body. They used some old prop from an episode of Taggart. Seriously.
This is Teri Lally who played Carol. She thought she was pregnant so I chopped a tree down on top of her and then tried to strangle her. Duh.
Victor and Barry took their new show Victor and Barry Say Goodbye to the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh for the festival, and later in the year to the Donmar Warehouse in London where we were invited to take part in the Perrier Pick of the Fringe season. The shows at the Donmar were my West End debut.
We'd previously opened Glasgow's Mayfest with a huge sell-out show at the Theatre Royal. Here we are premiering our anthem for Vic and Baz's hometown, Glasgow, on the STV Mayfest TV show.
Conquest of the South Pole is by German writer Manfred Karge. I played Slupianek, an unemployed youth who went on an imaginary journey with his friends to the South Pole, emulating the real-life journey of Ronald Amundsen.
The play premiered as part of the Traverse Theatre's season in 1988, returning for the Edinburgh Festival and then transferring to the Royal Court Theatre in London for a limited season at the end of the year. It was directed by Stephen Unwin, who would later direct me in Knickers and Hamlet. Tilda Swinton was assistant director.
The rest of the cast was Paul Higgins, Alasdair Galbraith, Simon Donald, Hilary Maclean, Ewan Bremner, Carol Ann Crawford and Sam Graham
In a way this play changed my life because when it transferred to London I was nominated Most Promising Newcomer in the 1988/89 Laurence Olivier Award (losing to Richard Jones who later would direct me in La Bete.) That was a big deal and I started to be offered work in London, and shortly after moved there.
When I finished the run at the royal Court I went to Australia to do the Victor and Barry tour and met a young actor who was playing Slupianek in the Sydney production at the Belvoir St Theatre. His name? Baz Lurhman!!
Victor and Barry were co-hosts of the Scottish part of the ITV Telethon in 1988. We had to stay up all night and constantly greet members of the public who got progressively more drunk and carried larger and larger checks. It was very surreal, especially the Vitcotr and Barry Search for a Star parts, where people did things like singing with their heads inside a washing machine!
It was great fun, and actually my first time ever doing live television with people talking to me in my ear whilst trying to be witty and effervescent. No mean feat. I also remember that when day broke we had a couple of drinks and some prawn cocktail and then went on live TV again, a bit pished.